10 leadership qualities of good leaders

Leadership qualities are present across human activity and in a range of different contexts. Leaders can be found leading their team to victory on the sporting field, bringing all the parts together to create beautiful music, or motivating and coordinating a rescue effort after a natural disaster. Anywhere that humans come together for a directed activity and shared goal you will find leaders.

Leadership skills in the workplace are a distinct subset of these leadership qualities. People with good leadership qualities will usually still be required to develop and refine their skills to fit the requirements of an organisation. Leadership qualities and skills come together to create leaders who can strategise, motivate and inspire.

The good news for professionals and organisations is that qualities for leadership can be developed. Through targeted training and development aspiring leaders can make the transition to effective leadership roles, and those already leading teams and organisations can further develop their skills.

What are the qualities of good leadership and how can you develop them to become more effective in your current or future roles? What key leadership skills should organisations look to develop in their leadership team?

leadership qualities
What qualities must a leader have?

What does it take to be a perfect leader?

The first point to consider is the idea of a ‘perfect leader’. Perfection implies someone who never makes mistakes, underperforms or occasionally gets things wrong. Even the most accomplished professionals will sometimes fall short of their best for a variety of reasons.

A better question to ask might be “what does it take to be the best leader I can be?”. This suggests that rather than achieving perfection, leaders are continually improving, learning from mistakes and refining their skills to become better at what they do. It also doesn’t put a ceiling on development. You can continue to grow, learn and take on new challenges throughout your career. It’s a continual journey of learning and development.

Before you begin that journey you need to have an understanding of your current abilities and competencies and what areas of leadership you’d like to work on. There are a range of reliable, objective and benchmarked assessment tools available, that are also blind to issues such as gender, race and socioeconomic background.

These can give you a benchmark of your current abilities and help to inform your choices about future development.

What makes a leader successful?

Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all concept. There’s no checklist of leadership qualities and skills that every leader has to possess and that can be quickly learned. Instead, leadership is an ongoing learning process that’s informed by reflection, successes and setbacks. It requires a positive and open frame of mind, a willingness to learn and a desire to improve.

That said, it’s possible to identify a number of key qualities of good leadership across different fields:

Integral Leadership Qualities


Leaders who clearly demonstrate strong ethical values, transparency and honesty win the trust and respect of those around them. Acting with integrity helps to foster a positive work culture, setting a clear example for others to follow.

Effective Communication

One key skill that’s common to every kind of leadership is effective communication skills. Great leaders can convey their vision, motivate and provide feedback to their team. Crucially, successful leaders can also listen actively, building strong relationships with those around them. Effective communication makes it easier to set clear goals and avoid misunderstandings.


Great leaders are always able to adapt, adjust and change their plans. While they may have strong ideas and principles, they’re rarely so inflexible that they’re unwilling to change if necessary. Adaptable leaders can navigate uncertainty and make informed decisions while being open to new ideas. Effective leaders build long-term success by being willing to learn from mistakes.


It’s an often underrated quality, but great leaders understand people, how they work, what motivates them and how each member of their team is unique. They are empathetic listeners, able to foster a supportive and inclusive work environment where everyone can thrive. Empathy is also a vital quality when it comes to conflict resolution

While these four key leadership skills and qualities are integral, it’s important to remember that good leadership qualities are a complex interplay of ideas, effort and experience. Many things come together to create high-quality leadership in a range of settings.


qualities of leadership
Decision-making, empowerment, open communication and problem-solving are all qualities of good leadership in the workplace

What makes a great leader in the workplace?

Different organisations will require different skill sets from their leaders to achieve their goals. While good leaders can be developed who understand these requirements and work on what’s required, truly outstanding leaders are flexible enough to change and adapt. Even when they move to a different organization with a different leadership culture, they’re able to transfer their skills and experience and apply them in a new way.

Great leaders in the workplace possess a clear and inspiring vision, set achievable goals, and can convey this vision effectively to those around them. A key quality for a good workplace leader is the ability to empower through delegation, trusting people to use their autonomy responsibly. Their strong communication skills keep dialogue open and encourage a shared understanding among team members. A great leader in the workplace excels at problem-solving, tackling challenges with clarity, creativity and optimism. They encourage collaboration to find effective solutions.

Being able to adeptly navigate change, they’re able to adapt to evolving circumstances while maintaining team morale and focus. Great leaders are results-focused, but understand results in a holistic sense, understanding that long-term success is built on a range of goals and metrics. They set performance benchmarks, monitor progress and celebrate achievements. They foster an environment of continuous learning, innovation and growth.

Which are the most common leadership qualities?

Every leader is unique. While there are common examples of exemplary leadership skills and qualities that the best leaders exhibit, there can also be significant differences. That said, there are some common leadership qualities that effective leaders exhibit and which may be considered essential for the role.

Examples of the qualities of good leadership include:

Essential Leadership Qualities

Decision Making

The ability to make informed and timely decisions is essential for leaders. Often decisions are clear-cut and relatively simple to make. At other times they can be more challenging, with a range of potential options for a leader to choose from. Effective leaders consult, assess all of the available options and then make a decision. They may draw on their values and overall vision to inform their decisions, but they’ll also be willing to branch out and try new approaches.

Problem-Solving Skills

Great leaders can solve problems. They may do this alone, but more often they will work collaboratively with their team to find effective solutions to difficult problems. Their problem-solving skills are based on a strong analytical understanding of the issue allied to empathy and effective communication. A strong problem-solving ability allows leaders to navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and maintain progress amid uncertainties.


Great leaders grant team members authority, autonomy, and resources to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Effective leaders can delegate tasks aligned with skills, establish boundaries, and trust the judgement of the team. They foster a sense of responsibility and commitment, encouraging accountability and motivating skill development across the organisation. They create a dynamic and positive work culture where individuals are motivated, engaged, and able to contribute their best work.

Open Communication

Communication skills are essential for effective leaders. Not only do leaders need to be able to communicate they also need to foster an environment where the open exchange of ideas and opinions is encouraged and supported. Leaders who prioritise open communication actively listen to their team, valuing diverse viewpoints and encouraging dialogue. By fostering a culture where everyone's voice is heard, leaders can draw from a wellspring of collective wisdom and innovation, which can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving.

good leadership qualities
Accountability, Confidence, Motivation, Resilience and Vision are all Top Leadership Qualities

What are the 10 characteristics and qualities of a good leader?

 Every leader will have a unique blend of qualities, skills and characteristics that enable them to inspire, guide, and effectively manage their team.

Here are ten leadership attributes that can contribute to effective leadership:

 10 Essential Leadership Characteristics and Qualities


Good leaders need to have confidence in their own abilities. This should be grounded in their skill set and understanding of their own capabilities. It needs to be realistic and with solid foundations.


A good leader will be able to shape and communicate a clear and inspiring vision for the future. They provide a sense of direction and purpose, inspiring their teams with the vision of a better future that helps to drive their team towards shared goals.


Leadership will frequently involve setbacks. Resilient leaders are steady in the face of adversity, demonstrating their determination as well as adaptability. They have a positive attitude that encourages the team to persevere.

Motivational Skills

Motivating team members is a key leadership skill. Effective leaders inspire through their words and actions, recognising achievements and offering constructive feedback to boost morale and enhance performance.

Team Building

Effective leaders can build cohesive and diverse teams. They understand team dynamics, know how to strategically assign roles, and foster collaboration between different personalities. By building effective teams, great leaders can enhance productivity and create a positive work culture.

Respect for Diversity

Modern workplaces are diverse. By breaking down old barriers, leaders can foster creativity and respect, helping to drive better results. They create an environment where everyone’s contributions are recognised and appreciated.


Effective leaders are willing to be accountable for their decisions. They are open and honest when they get things wrong. They hold themselves and their team members accountable for their work, cultivating a culture of ownership and excellence.


A good leader encourages innovation by developing a culture where creativity is valued. They provide space for new ideas, support experimentation, and acknowledge the importance of continuous improvement.


Transparency is a priority for good leaders. They openly share information, both positive and challenging, with their team. This transparent communication helps to build trust, enabling members to feel informed and engaged.

Strategic Patience

Patience is an often underestimated leadership quality. Great leaders understand that progress takes time and that challenges may require persistence. Patient leaders provide support and guidance, allowing their team to learn and develop at their own pace while fostering a sense of understanding and support. They work patiently towards strategic goals.


Effective leadership assessment tools from Leadership Success


At Leadership Success, we have a suite of leadership assessment tools that you can use across leaders and individual contributors. They’re easy to deploy and produce results that are simple to action and implement.

By leveraging technology, our leadership assessments can be launched with short lead times and with results that are delivered immediately. Different result views are created for participants, their managers and HR to meet their different needs.

If you’d like to learn more about leadership assessment and the role it can play in helping to better understand your leadership needs, our experienced team is available to help.

Contact us to find out more about our library of assessments and our leadership development programmes.

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