25 Leadership Qualities That Define Great Leaders (2024)

The most effective leaders know what matters most to employees and put their people first. Theirleadership impacts organizational cultureand strongly influencesemployee engagement. And that’s important becausepoor leadershipis one of the most common reasonswhy employees leavetheir organizations.

When it comes to being a great people leader, there are many common characteristics. What are they, and how doleaders improve employee engagement?

Let’s explore the 15 signs of a great leader:

1. You are an advocate

Good leaders are people advocates. They excel at connecting people and understanding the needs and concerns of others. Because this builds people’s trust, it makes them fantastic supporters and people managers.

Good leaders also advocate for their vision. They thrive at communicating their ideas and inspiring others to work together in the same direction. Their strong negotiation skills and ability to build relationships help them to influence and motivate others.

2. You know your team

Great leaders invest time in getting to know their teams and showing genuine care for others. They ask about passions, interests, and values. This deeper understanding helps leaders delegate based on employee strengths and development goals, laying the groundwork for professional and personal growth.

3. You offer employee appreciation

The ability and willingness to show genuine employee appreciation is a leadership strength. Knowing how employees prefer to receive appreciation is a sign of a great leader. Whether the recognition is public, private, in-person, or written, successful leaders put a personal touch onemployee recognition.

4. You are accountable

Leaders are humans, and even the greatest make mistakes from time to time. Big or small, the most respected leaders hold themselves accountable for their errors. That means they take responsibility instead of blaming others. Not everyone has the courage, but not everyone is a humble leader.

5. You are positive and passionate

Effective leaders set a positive example for others. They are not afraid of challenges; they embrace them and encourage employees to do the same. Passion and positivity are two signs of a great leader. The energy is contagious and motivates others to work hard and give their best daily.

6. You are an active listener

Active listening is also one of the signs of a good leader. It means talking less and listening more. Active listeners observe verbal and nonverbal messages, seek advice, and others trust them. As managers one of the signs of a great leader is showing genuine concern for employees. And when employees believe a manager truly cares, it inspires greater employee engagement.

7. You encourage growth

When most people think about an ideal leader, they imagine someone who encouragestraining and development. Good leaders love coaching and watching employees find growth. Encouraging growth gives employees a sense of accomplishment. Truly great leaders understand the benefits of investing in their employees.

8. You have vision

Great leaders effectively set direction and inspire others to follow that course. One of the signs of a great leader is a commitment to a single vision. This drive breaks down silos and clarifies for others what they should prioritize and how they should achieve it.

9. You give and receive constructive feedback

Being effective at giving and receiving feedback is a sign of the remaining seven signs of a good leader. The most effective leaders make it a regular practice and encourage those around them to do the same. Offering constructive feedback is how leaders encourage growth in others. Similarly, leaders learn and develop by being open to and receiving constructive feedback.

10. You respect your team

Caring leaders know when to let their employees take a break. Respecting employees’ personal lives promotes employee well-being and minimizes employee burnout. And that’s especially important in today’s world.Top Workplaces research shows that more than one in three employees (38 percent) struggle with burnout.Great leaders ensure employees feel respected and empowered to step back, reset, and return to work with more productive energy.

11. Your team trusts you

It’s not surprising that trust is one of the signs of a good leader. Trust for and from leadership encourages a culture of education, guidance, and support. This process is necessary for personal and organizational development. Talking openly often helps leaders build trust with their employees and find ways to keep supporting them.

Micromanaging is a sign of low trust. If you find yourself nitpicking employees, you must evaluate your trust levels. Improving communication will help your team perform at a higher level and reduce daily stress.

12. You have emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is one of the signs of a great leader that sets them apart from others. It is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions — as well as the emotions of others. Emotionally intelligent leaders are self-aware, which enables them to be more responsive to the needs of others. This quality helps them to create a sense of employee well-being,trust, and loyalty among their teams. It also helps them to lead a more positive and productive workplace culture.

13. You know the difference between leading and managing

Understanding the differences between managing and leading is among the signs of great leaders. Managing refers to the “what” — the day-to-day responsibilities of overseeing the work of a team or organization. The qualities of a good managerinclude ensuring quality work gets done on time and within budget.

Leading is about the “why.” Great leaders inspire and guide others toward a shared vision or goal. They focus on creating a sense of organizational purpose and motivating others to work towards it. Leaders are also responsible for creating a healthy workplace culture and fostering a shared identity among team members.

14. Others follow your lead

People follow great leaders because they possess certain qualities that inspire trust and confidence. Acting with integrity, a sense of purpose, making difficult decisions, and expressing genuine concern for others are signs of a great leader that others want to follow.

15. You are humble

Being humble is a sign of heightened emotional intelligence. It’s also one of the signs of a great leader. They treat others as equals, recognize they don’t always have the answers and are open to learning from others.

Earn a Top Workplaces Award for Great Leadership

Great leaders are essential to organizational success and growth, as well as employeerecruitment and retention. Check out theTop Workplaces for Great Leadershipaward to see the nation’s best.

Read more:Companies with great leadership development

Does your company prioritize employee engagement and a people-driven culture? Get recognized for it!Nominate your organizationfor Top Workplaces, the employee survey and employer recognition program that offers awards in 60+ regional markets and national awards for culture and industry excellence.

25 Leadership Qualities That Define Great Leaders (2024)


What are the 14 qualities of great leaders? ›

14 Effective Leadership Skills
  • Great communication. Effective leadership begins with excellent communication skills. ...
  • Excellent organisation. ...
  • Efficient delegation. ...
  • Establishing trust. ...
  • Being knowledge-hungry. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Taking accountability. ...
  • Being generous.

What are the qualities of a good leader explain your answer? ›

A good leader should have integrity, self-awareness, courage, respect, compassion, and resilience. They should be learning agile and flex their influence while communicating the vision, showing gratitude, and collaborating effectively.

What are the 7 leadership qualities of great leaders? ›

Remember, great leaders are not born; they develop through a combination of self-awareness, collaboration, passion, open-mindedness, adaptability, empowerment, and innovation. So, take the initiative to cultivate these traits and inspire greatness in yourself and those around you.

What are the five 5 powerful leadership traits of a good leader? ›

5 Characteristics Every Good Leader Should Have
  • Decisiveness. The ability to make decisions, particularly when under pressure, is an important skill to master. ...
  • Trustworthiness. ...
  • Empowerment of others. ...
  • Clear communication. ...
  • Resilience.

What are the 21 characteristics of a leader? ›

These qualities are as follows: Character, Charisma, Commitment, Communication, Competence, Courage, Discernment, Focus, Generosity, Initiative, Listening, Passion, Positive Attitude, Problem Solving, Relationships, Responsibility, Security, Self-Discipline, Servanthood, Teachability, and Vision.

What are the 21 indispensable qualities of a leader explain? ›

In The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, Maxwell identifies these top traits as character, charisma, commitment, communication, competence, courage, discernment, focus, generosity, initiative, listening, passion, positive attitude, problem - solving, relationships, responsibility, security, self - discipline, ...

What are the qualities of a good leader in not more than 50 words? ›

No matter how tough the situation is, good leadership will always support their teammates and ensure their well-being. Good leaders will have a strong moral and ethical compass and possess desirable leadership qualities such as self-discipline, integrity, honesty, confidence, self-awareness, and courage, among others.

What are the 7 definitions of leadership? ›

An effective leader has the following characteristics: self-confidence, strong communication and management skills, creative and innovative thinking, perseverance, willingness to take risks, open to change, levelheaded and reactiveness in times of crisis.

What are the three most important qualities of a leader? ›

Top 3 Characteristics Employee Engagement participants believe the best leaders have: Integrity - Compassion - Determination.

What are the four 4 traits of successful leadership? ›

4 Traits of Great Leadership
  • 4 Essential Characteristics of a Purposeful Leader.
  • Trust. First and foremost, leaders need to be able to develop trust among their employees. ...
  • Compassion. The second characteristic of a purposeful leader is compassion. ...
  • Stability. Stability is the third characteristic of a purposeful leader. ...
  • Hope.
Mar 30, 2023

What are the 4 effective leaders? ›

Progress., nearly 300 C-level business leaders across the globe cite, 'leaders who lead by example,' 'clear purpose,' 'clear communication,' and 'trust' as key elements that influence highly effective workplace cultures. These four elements, when strengthened, build effective leadership skills.

What are the 5 most important principles of leadership? ›

The authors discovered that when leaders experience their personal best, they display five core practices: they Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. Jim and Barry called these behaviors The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®.

What does poor leadership look like? ›

Some common signs of bad leadership include passive aggressive communication, failure to own up to mistakes, not listening to concerns, or creating an intimidating work environment.

What makes a good team leader? ›

A good team leader possesses a combination of qualities, such as effective communication skills, strong ethics, empathy, technical expertise, and the ability to inspire employees. They create a positive work environment, maintain team morale, and establish healthy working relationships with their team members.

What does the Bible say about leadership qualities? ›

In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus tells His disciples that leaders should not exercise authority over people. Instead, whoever wants to become great must lower himself to be a servant. Leaders realize that serving others is the only way to lead with a pure heart, free of pride and arrogance.

What are 3 qualities that most successful leaders have? ›

Top 3 Characteristics Employee Engagement participants believe the best leaders have: Integrity - Compassion - Determination.

What are the 3 most important characteristics of a successful leader? ›

Leaders today need to be authentic, empathetic and adaptable to drive impact. What it means to be a great leader changes (and becomes more complex) as organizations and society evolve.


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