12 Qualities of Leaders You Need to Know to Be Great

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What’s Leadership?

Leadership is the act of leading a group of people or an organization to either sustain or improve. There are certain qualities of leaders that can make them better suited for the job when they have them.

The bad news is that if you are lacking many of these leadership qualities you may struggle to lead effectively. The good news is there are ways you can improve and build these leadership skills and traits.

You can build these leadership qualities and become an even better leader. It doesn’t matter if you are new to leadership or an experienced vet, there is always room for improvement.

Contrary to popular belief, not all great leaders are born with all of these leadership qualities. Many times they are learned through experience and training.

I hope to provide you with the knowledge and skills to improve as a leader by passing on some of the knowledge and experiences I’ve gained throughout the years.

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Important Qualities of Leaders – Leadership Skills List

1.     Problem Solving

Why this leadership skill is important.

When a problem occurs, team members are going to look to you as the leader for a solution. This does not mean you need to have the answer every time but you need to at least have a direction for the team. When a leader lacks problem-solving skills, the team can easily get stuck on every issue that arises.

How to enhance this leadership skill.

Take a step back and define your problem. This is a vital step that many people skip when a problem occurs. Once you clearly define your issue, you can begin brainstorming. Brainstorming is done best with multiple people. Typically this will lead to many solutions and allow you to choose the best.

Increasing your ability to think outside the box is another way to enhance this skill-set. Getting creative will increase this ability. Drawing, writing, and any other creative activity will make you better at thinking outside the box.

Logic puzzles and games are another great way to build your problem-solving skills. Games like chess, crossword puzzles, and sudoku are a great way to work out this area of your brain.

Click for more ways to improve your problem solving skills.

2.     Resilience

Why this leadership trait is important.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back when things don’t go the way you want or expect them to go. A leader needs to be strong even in the face of adversity. Your team is looking for your strength and guidance when dealing with adversity.

How to improve this leadership trait.

One way to improve the resilience leadership trait is preparation. Have a plan for when things don’t go the way you expected. You can’t plan for everything and need to still be adaptable but planning for as much as you can good and bad will put you in a position where damage is limited when things go wrong.

Another way to improve your resilience is to change the way you think about setbacks. When you think of a setback as the end of the world it will be hard to overcome. If you think of it as just a hurdle to overcome, it will be a lot easier to come out the other end better off than you were.

Remember that this is not the first tough situation you’ve faced, and it won’t be the last. You made it through all those and you can make it through this one.

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3.     Communication

Why this leadership skill is important.

Good communication skills are important for many reasons. As leaders, we need to be able to properly communicate with our subordinates, our supervisors, our peers, our customers, and many other people.

Communicating properly enables you to communicate your vision to your team. Great communication skills also allow you to build connections with those around you. This network can be very useful in your journey to becoming the best leader you can be.

How to develop this leadership skill.

Experts say 93 percent of communication is not what is said but how it’s said with tone and body language. Understanding body language and tone and relating it to your communication is a great way to improve this skill.

Learning how to build more rapport is another way to be a better communicator. Building rapport makes others feel more comfortable around you and builds relationships. When you have rapport, your words are normally understood and internalized more by the other person.

Another way to improve your communication is to always know your audience. You wouldn’t talk to your boss the same way you would with your subordinates or peers. At least you probably shouldn’t be talking to all these people the same way.

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4.     Accountability

Why this leadership trait is important.

Accountability means accepting the fault for your actions. As a leader, this is not limited to your actions, it also means being accountable for your team. It’s always better to admit when you mess up or make the wrong call. Everybody messes up, but what separates the good leaders from the pack is how they handle it.

How to improve this leadership trait.

Own your mistakes and learn from them. Instead of trying to make excuses or ignore your faults, recognize them. When your team succeeds or fails you must take accountability. A good leader takes more than their share of the blame in failures and setbacks and gives others credit during successes. When you do this, you build loyalty within your team and they will do everything they can to make you a success.

5.     Integrity

Why this leadership trait is important.

This is one of our core values in the Air Force and we define integrity as doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. A great leader must be trustworthy. Subordinates need to know that their leader is going to do everything in their power to do what they say.

How to develop this leadership trait.

You set the example for your employees to follow so integrity is a must. Always do your best to follow through with what you say you are going to do. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your subordinates to do like showing up late for work or leaving early without cause. Don’t take advantage of your position. To enhance your integrity, you have to have the mindset to maintain integrity in all you do.

6.     Vision

Why this leadership skill is important.

A solid vision not only guides you as a leader but also gives the team something to strive for. Having a vision provides a sense of purpose for the team and defines short and long-term goals. Your vision as a leader will inspire others to be better and work harder toward your common goals.

How to improve this leadership skill.

What are your goals for the future of your organization? Think about your short and long term goals. Visualize yourself in this future and think about what it will take to get there. Share your vision of the future with those around you and work on getting them to visualize this future as well.

A great way to get your message about your vision out is by creating a vision statement. Follow the link to create a vision statement to motivate and inspire your employees.

7.     Confidence

Why this leadership trait is important.

As a leader, you will sometimes have to take risks. It’s important to have confidence in yourself and your team when taking risks. You have to have the confidence to make decisions even if you don’t have all the information to make a guaranteed decision. Without confidence, you will second guess yourself at every turn. This can lead to a lot of wasted time and added stress. If you make the wrong call it’s not the end of the world. You need to focus on fixing the situation instead of dwelling on the error you made.

How to develop this leadership skill.

Having a good plan will help your confidence. When you have a path to proceed, even when things aren’t going your way, you will be more confident.

Another way to build confidence is to look in the mirror and tell yourself all the good things you have to offer the world. Confidence is built on the way we talk to ourselves. If you talk to yourself positively your confidence will soar. Neuro-linguistic programming is full of great techniques for improving the way your inner voice talks to you.

Always remember, there’s a reason why you are the leader. Others saw something in you or you wouldn’t have made it to the position you’re in.

8.     Sound Judgement

Why this leadership skill is important.

As leaders, we have to make decisions and we don’t always have all the information to make the guaranteed correct call. You may have to decide on which candidate to hire or which vendor to go through for materials, or you may have to decide when is the right time to cut your losses on a project. All these decisions have a correct answer but you typically won’t know until after the choice is made. This where sound judgment is vital for a leader.

How to improve this leadership skill.

Believe it or not, decision making and sound judgment is a skill that can be built or strengthened. The first thing you want to do is explore all options. You may even want to brainstorm to come up with new and better options. You can do this with a team to get even more ideas that you may not have thought of on your own.

Some decisions are very time-constrained but many times we rush into it. Take a moment to think about how urgent this decision is. If you have the time, take it to weigh your options and possible outcomes. Just be careful to not take too much time because indecisiveness can be an issue too.

Another great technique is to visualize yourself making each choice. You have to picture yourself and experience the outcome of the choice. This can open your eyes to outcomes of the choice that you may not have thought of yet.

9.     Humility

Why this leadership trait is important.

While confidence is important in a leader, overconfidence can be very detrimental to you as a leader. It’s important to have humility and be able to admit when you are wrong. Recognize that you have flaws and weaknesses. That’s okay because there is not a perfect person alive. Showing humility and being able to admit when you are wrong, shows everyone around you that you can be trusted. It also shows subordinates that it’s okay to have problems and they will be open with you when they arise instead of trying to cover them up.

How to develop this leadership trait.

You can develop this leadership trait by performing self-reflection. When things go wrong, don’t blame everyone else. Take a look inside and ask yourself what you could have done differently. As a leader, many of the team’s mistakes fall on your shoulders. When talking to your team about errors, admit that you are at least partially to blame. You don’t have to beat yourself up over the mistakes but use them to be better and stronger for the future.

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10.  Positivity

Why this leadership trait is important.

Have you ever noticed how things just seem to go your way when you have a good day? The opposite can be said for a bad day. When you have a positive mindset it’s much easier to make better decisions and not get stressed out. Your team will often take on the attitude you have and a positive one will allow everybody to perform better.

How to improve this leadership trait.

There are many things you can do to maintain a positive mood. Starting your day off right with enough sleep can help you stay in a better mood. Having good goals and with a good vision to guide you can keep focused and in a good mood. Staying physically and mentally fit will help you maintain a positive attitude.

11.  Empathy

Why this leadership skill is important.

Empathizing with your employees is important to truly get to know your employees, your bosses, and your customers. To be a great leader you need to be able to get into other people’s shoes. This will help you understand what your supervisors want from you. It will allow you to know what motivates your subordinates. Also, it will give you insight into what your customers want. Furthermore, this skill will help you build long-lasting relationships and bonds with those around you.

How to develop this leadership skill.

Empathy can be improved and increased by taking a walk in other people’s shoes. That means you get to know those around you. Spend time talking to them and finding out what makes them the individual they are. Always make an effort to take others’ feelings into account. Even when you have to have difficult conversations with employees, you can do it in a way that accounts for their feelings. One final tip is to always try to bring a few thoughtful conversations to each conversation.

12.  Motivation

Why this leadership trait is important.

The best leaders are motivated. Motivated to make a difference, motivated to give their all, and motivated to be the best leader they can be. The team will feed off your motivation, making them more focused and productive. When you are motivated to be great, your team will be motivated to get you there.

How to develop this leadership trait.

Developing this trait requires you to do a little soul searching. Why do you do what you’re doing? Who are you doing it for? Do you want to make a difference? Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself to find out what motivates you.

Setting strong goals and working toward those goals can help with motivation. Creating a strong vision statement for where you want the organization to be can also help be a motivator to both you and those around you. A vision board is another thing that can help keep you motivated.

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Final Thoughts on Qualities of Leaders

While it’s not necessary to be exceptional in all these areas to be a great leader, the more of these leadership qualities and traits you exhibit the better you will be. I hope this article made you take a look inside yourself and start thinking about which areas of leadership you excel in and which leadership areas you could use a little work.

If you think you are perfect and there is no room for improvement you need to read number 9 again. Every one of us has areas where we can improve. Neither I or you will never be perfect but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to get as close as we can. What leadership qualities do you think should be added to the list?

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