Leadership can be the driving force behind the success or failure of any organisation or business. Leaders are those who provide the direction of strategy, inspire the action of employees and guide team members towards common goals.
A strong leader is not one who just directs a team, company or business a certain way; an effective leader is one who promotes innovation, encourages collaboration, and ensures that resources are utilised efficiently. A strong leader brings people together, fostering a positive working environment, and ultimately gets the very best out of everyone.
This article will present some of the top qualities of a good leader. It will break them down into areas such as vision, communication, accountability, empathy and more, to give a comprehensive analysis of what makes a good leader in business.
Vision and Strategy
A key part of being a strong leader is having the right vision and strategic mindset for the company.
Clarity of Vision
A key component of a leader’s vision is the clarity of that vision. If a leader cannot communicate their vision effectively to the team, then it is impossible for the team to carry out the necessary actions to achieve that vision. The progress of a team within a business all ultimately comes back to the leader effectively and clearly communicating their vision and goals.
Effective leaders must possess the ability to think strategically, balancing both long-term and short-term goals. Leaders should have a long-term vision, which serves as an overall goal for the organisation to achieve. This strategic thinking may involve analysing market trends whilst predicting future challenges and opportunities. Simultaneously, leaders must also think about short-term strategy, ensuring immediate tasks are completed efficiently without losing sight of the broader strategy.
One key trait that leaders must have in strategic thinking is adaptability. Ultimately, problems and challenges are inevitable, so leaders must have the adaptability skills to recognise when the plan and strategy should be changed and adjusted, and ensure that those changes are made.
Active listening is a critical skill for leaders. It involves leaders fully focusing on their employees and putting themselves in their shoes to understand their emotions and perspectives. This builds trust and encourages open communication, which ultimately builds stronger teams and helps leaders make informed decisions.
Clear and Concise Communication
Clear and concise communication is essential in leadership. It ensures that a leader’s ideas, expectations, and goals are effectively conveyed to the team, which ultimately prevents misunderstandings, reduces confusion, and promotes an alignment of goals and actions.
Leaders who communicate clearly reduce the overall confusion of their vision, inspiring more of a sense of confidence and trust among their team members in the vision. Clarity in communication also lends itself more to a culture of accountability, as everyone understands their role and responsibilities laid out by the leader. Ultimately, clear and concise communication is the bridge that connects the leader’s vision with the team’s actions. It drives efficiency, cooperation, and overall success.
A leader who provides inspirational communication is also extremely important. If a leader can communicate goals and aspirations, but not do so in an inspiring and motivating way, then this can be detrimental to company culture and team output.
Leaders should clearly communicate company values alongside their goals, and do so in a way that employees believe that the leader also upholds these values. This fosters a better team environment, all in on the same mission together.
Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
Empathy and emotional intelligence both play a large role in leadership. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Having empathy as a leader ultimately lends itself to stronger working relationships and a culture of trust within the team. It enables leaders to connect with their team members, being able to both recognise and address their needs or concerns.
Leaders with high emotional intelligence are generally better at navigating challenging situations, inspiring positivity in times of difficulty, and handling conflicts between team members more effectively.
The result of having both empathy and emotional intelligence as a leader is the creation of a supportive work environment, where team members feel valued and understood. This leads to increased morale, better collaboration, and a more resilient team; all which comes from the emotional attitudes of the leader.
Decisiveness & Problem Solving
Making informed decisions
As a leader, making informed decisions is incredibly important, both from a results driven perspective and also a people perspective.
An informed decision involved gathering available information and intelligence, weighing the pros and cons of actions based on that information, and then making a decision based on those pros and cons. From a results driven perspective, making an informed decision over an uninformed one is clearly the better option; as it is a more calculated and positive outcome-likely decision.
From a people driven perspective, making an informed decision is very important for building trust within a team. If a leader is seen making uninformed decisions, it is likely to decrease the degree of trust their team has in them
Problem Solving Skills
A leader must have good problem-solving skills because they are the ones responsible for guiding the team through challenges and finding effective solutions. Problems and obstacles are inevitable in any business, and it is down to the leader’s problem solving abilities to quickly and effectively analyse the situation, identify the root cause, and come up with a solution before the issue escalates.
Leading by Example
Leading by example is an essential skill/action for any leader. Leaders must set high standards for themselves and for their team, and demonstrate that they themselves uphold those standards. By demonstrating such accountability for their actions, leaders will by consequence foster a culture of accountability and similarly high standards within the business, leading to more productive output from all of their team.
Leading by example also ties in with a leader taking responsibility for their actions and consequences of those actions. Taking responsibility is a crucial skill that leaders must have because it sets the tone for accountability and trust within the team. When a leader takes ownership of their actions, decisions, and outcomes, it demonstrates integrity and transparency. This, in turn, encourages team members to do the same, creating an overall culture of responsibility.
Additionally, taking responsibility allows leaders to show that they’re not above admitting mistakes and learning from them. This builds respect among team members, and creates a positive environment where team members feel safer in experimenting, asking questions, innovating and taking risks.
Delegation & Empowerment
Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses
Part of being a good leader is having the ability to delegate effectively. In order to do this, a leader must be able to recognise what their own strengths and weaknesses are and also where the strengths and weaknesses of the team lie. A good leader should be able to recognise that a member of their team is stronger than them at something, and trust that team member has the power to carry out a task, without micromanaging.
Equally, leaders should be able to recognise where the weaknesses in the team are, and carry out tasks themselves if necessary.
Empowering the Team
Leaders should empower their team through encouraging growth and providing autonomy. By showing their team members that they have trust in them and their work, they encourage their team to produce work to a high standard. In contrast, if leaders do not show trust and micromanage, this can be demotivating for the team and not encourage a high standard of work effort.
Adaptability and Resilience
Adaptability and resilience are equally important qualities for effective leadership. Leaders must be able to navigate through change and embrace new challenges and opportunities. An adaptable leader is flexible, quick to adjust strategies, and open to innovative solutions. This inspires an equal adaptability in the team, fostering an environment that thrives through challenges or times of change.
Resilience is equally vital; leaders often encounter setbacks, but it’s the leaders who have the ability to rebound and persevere that sets them apart. Resilient leaders maintain a positive attitude, inspiring their team even in challenging times. They learn from failures, continuously improving and guiding their team towards their shared goals.
Continuous Learning and Growth
A leader should show a commitment to learning and also encourage learning within the team. In every industry of business, the landscape is constantly changing, and so a leader that remains stuck in their ways is likely to fall behind. By fostering a learning culture within the business, leaders can ensure that they themselves, their team, and the business as a whole stay at the forefront of their industry.
Personal and Professional Growth
Leaders should always be setting goals for themselves and also be encouraging their team to set goals. Part of building a strong and productive team is to ensure that everyone within the team feels valued; giving team members an idea of where their personal and professional growth is leading within that business is extremely important to giving them a sense of purpose and pride in their work.
This article has presented some of the top qualities to look for in a leader. If you are a leader, and you’re looking to improve your leadership skills, then perhaps note down which parts of this list identify your strengths, and which parts identify your weaknesses or development gaps.
If you’re a business leader or executive, and you’re looking to improve the leadership qualities within your business, then you should take a look at our leadership coaching for managers & senior leadership. Through both individual and group coaching sessions, this service gives insights into the mindset of your leaders, identifying the drivers and barriers for change and development, which will take your business’s leaders through a powerful development process to develop team cohesion. If you’re looking to upskill your managers within your business to take a more coaching-led approach to their managerial practices, then be sure to have a look at our coaching training for managers.
Through discussing ownership and accountability collectively, leaders can expect a greater sense of team cohesion, the identification of team goals and objectives, as well as an understanding of how they can remove barriers to change and leverage drivers to create a clear development plan to achieve team objectives and drive overall better performance.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the key qualities of a good leader?
Clarity of vision, effective communication, empathy, decisiveness, problem-solving skills, accountability, delegation, adaptability, and continuous learning are all key qualities of a good leader.
How important is clear and concise communication for a leader?
Clear and concise communication is essential for a leader as it prevents misunderstandings, reduces confusion, promotes alignment of goals, and drives efficiency and overall success.
What is the role of empathy and emotional intelligence in leadership?
Empathy and emotional intelligence in leadership build trust, strong relationships, and a supportive work environment, leading to increased morale, better collaboration, and a resilient team.
Why is leading by example important for a leader?
Leading by example sets high standards, fosters a culture of accountability, and inspires team members to uphold those standards, creating a positive environment for experimentation, innovation, and risk-taking.
How does a good leader encourage continuous learning and growth?
A good leader fosters a learning culture within the team and encourages personal and professional growth, setting goals for themselves and team members, ensuring everyone feels valued and has a sense of purpose in their work.
About the Author
Jodi is the founder and driving force behind Engage. She is an occupational psychologist and executive coach with a PhD in Coaching Psychology, who for over 20 years has dedicated her career to helping people thrive and be the best version of themselves.
As a leading expert in coaching, she has worked globally with blue chip clients. She combines this wealth of experience and passion for human development with the scientific rigour of evidence-based research which underpins the Engage toolset.