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Can You Name the 9 Essential Qualities of a Leader?

There are many schools of thought about the role of a leader. What are the essential qualities of a leader? What are the must-haves?

Well, I have three distinct opinions.

What makes a great leader?

  1. A leader taps into their team’s talents to achieve results.
  2. A leader’s role is not to engage their team; it is to achieve their mission by motivating and inspiring their people.
  3. A leader does not run a country club; they lead people to achieve something bigger than they could ever achieve as individuals.

The essential qualities of a leader

We also know that each leader should have a mission. Often, there are overlapping qualities between leaders in any industry and for all kinds of teams. For example, their mission is to create a cohesive, effective team in almost every case. Their mission could be to inspire, motivate, and bring out the best in their team.

But one thing is for sure, regardless of the exact details of their mission, there are certain qualities a leader must have to achieve them.

Here are the nine qualities of a leader they must tap into if they want to lead effectively and in line with their goals.

Be Creative

Leaders must be creative and unafraid to take creative risks. Creativity allows competency to move to excellence. It is the spark that captures peoples’ attention and builds a cohesive whole.

Know the Structure

Leaders know and understand the structure of their organization. But they also know when to move beyond the boundaries of these structures. While we all work within parameters and limitations, a great leader knows how not to let structure slow the process. By knowing the structure, you can guide others to work within it effectively.

Use Your Intuition

Intuition is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. And emotional intelligence is one of the cornerstone qualities of a leader. Use your insight to sense what others are feeling and thinking so you can respond to them with understanding.

(We discuss more why emotional intelligence is key to becoming a better leader in this post.)

Be Committed

A leader is committed to success. One of the qualities of a leader who leads effectively is that they can articulate that vision to the team. Then, they are also able to move and inspire the team toward the goal.

Be Human

Employees value humble and selfless leaders who don’t hide behind authority. The best leaders are those who aren’t afraid to be themselves. They respect and connect with others and inspire loyalty.

Be Versatile

Flexibility is the ability to be not overly attached to how things are ‘supposed to be’ and allows you to respond to events that will inevitably come up.

Have Fun

A light touch and a laugh balance out the seriousness of the task at hand, the team’s resolve and contribute to results and retention. When it’s appropriate, levity can go a long way for energizing your team members and promoting a positive team environment.

Discipline

Discipline is the ability to choose what one pays attention to and consistently model leadership. It’s one of the qualities of a leader that by demonstrating, they can also inspire in their team.

Focus

Do not take your eye off your objectives … a leader achieves results!

(On the topic of results, take a look at this post next: The Last Thing You Need Is Another Leadership TED Talk: 3 Tactics That Leads To Action & Results)

Develop these qualities of a leader in yourself

When you read through this list, chances are you mentally checked off some of the items. Maybe discipline and focus are two of your strong suits as a leader. But chances are, there are also some qualities of a leader you would like to work on developing in yourself. In that case, we should talk. My one-on-one coaching is for new or uncertain leaders who need help finding their way forward. Read all about how it works here.

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This post was first published in 2017, but it was updated in 2021 just for you.

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