Ten Characteristics of Great Leaders

While it’s commonly argued whether leaders are born or made, there’s little doubt that all great leaders share several characteristics. In fact, leadership is a skill that needs to be developed and nurtured much like any other skill.

Leadership skills are among the most important to develop, both in your personal life and professionally, particularly if you wish to advance your career or take your business to the next levels. Following are ten traits great leaders possess. The good news is that you already possess some of these qualities and can easily develop the others with application and effort.

Great leaders share these qualities:

  • Lead by example. Effective leaders know that they can get the best out of others by setting a good example; they walk the talk. If you want your followers to be committed, positive, passionate, and involved, it’s important that you personally demonstrate these characteristics each day.

Great leaders define the culture they want in their businesses and homes and live that culture as an example. If you similarly want to become great, then it will be imperative that you define the type of culture and leadership you want to be known for and then live it. What example are you currently displaying to others?

  • Take responsibility. Lousy leaders look to shift the blame when things start go wrong. A great leader, however, knows that setbacks occur. He also knows that if failure occurs, it was his poor planning, vision, effort, or leadership that resulted in the poor results.

A great leader accepts responsibility for the outcome, both positive and negative. In fact, great leaders live by the maxim, ‘the buck stops with me.’. They also assume complete responsibility for the overall results of their businesses, knowing full well that when an employee fails, he or she as the leader needs to step up and coach the employee to improve. Any leader that casts blame and fails to coach their employees to improve can never be called a leader.

Finally, all leaders assume personal responsibility for their loves, including their choices, decisions, actions, and habits. In this way they are able to change and improve themselves when things don’t work out because they can self-assess where they fell short.

  • Vision. To lead effectively, a leader must know where they’re headed. After all, you have to lead to a specific destination. All leaders have a vision for the future and what they want to accomplish and then communicate that vision to everyone.

As such, do you have a vision for the future, and can you communicate that vision to others? Is your vision clear and easy to understand? Is your vision focused? Do you know where you’re going?

  • A plan. You might know where you’re going, but do you know how to get there? Can you effectively share that plan with the members of your team? Is your plan believable and achievable? As a leader it is your responsibility to formulate the plan of action to achieve your goals and objectives and to then communicate that plan to everyone involved. In addition, a great leader will always seek input from those around him to help formulate the plan because they know that teamwork and collaboration increase the likelihood of success.

  • Great communication skills. The ability to share your vision and your plan are paramount to success. Effective leaders are excellent communicators and work to enhance their communication skills further. Communication skills are one of the most skills you will need to develop and harness. When you’re an effective communicator you keep everyone in the loop and help ensure the continual advancement of plans and objectives.

Further, by being an effective communicator you keep the lines of communication open around you which is vital, particularly when receiving feedback and data. The more open those lines of communication are the greater the more readily you can adapt and pivot when circumstances change, or opportunities present themselves.

  • Motivators. It’s been said that one skill needed by great leaders is the ability to inspire and motivate their teams, especially when things aren’t going well or change is required. Impressive future results often require sacrifice and discomfort in the short-term and an effective leader will be able to motivate others to look beyond the short term towards a compelling future.

  • Develop others. It’s important to develop others to become better leaders. A great leader takes the time to develop the skills of their followers. The more capable your followers, the more impressive the results you’ll ultimately attain. They know that the key to success and longevity is developing others so they can assume leadership roles.

This is even more important when it comes to developing leadership and character in children. One of the vital roles of a parent or caregiver is to teach children how to become leaders. As part of this they teach them that personal responsibility is the steppingstone to future leadership and success.

  • Inspire confidence in others. If people don’t believe you’ll be successful, you won’t receive their best efforts. All leaders develop their confidence and skills continually. They know that for them to inspire confidence in others, they need to have confidence in themselves. They are passionate about personal development and growth and are continually investing in themselves.

  • Integrity. Team members must believe and trust in their leader. Are you a person of integrity? Does your team believe what you say? Do your team members trust that you’re fully committed to the project and to them? Without integrity, no one will trust you enough to commit and engage with your plans.

  • Can deal with chaos. Chaos is inevitable in life, whether in business or in your personal life. Things often go wrong, plans will backfire, team members will have personal issues and unexpected situations will pop up which will throw a spanner in the works. There’s always something going haywire or someone who is disgruntled. A great leader knows how to calmly and purposefully deal with the unexpected and guide others through the resulting distractions. They remain calm and confident and don’t rant and rave because they know that this only creates uncertainty, fear and poor results in the long term.

How many of these ten characteristics do you possess? Are you willing to develop those qualities that you lack? Great leaders have several qualities in common that you can learn and apply to enhance your leadership skills. Review these qualities and look for ways to further develop your leadership abilities and skills. As you do your life, personally and professionally will change for the better.