20 Most Important Leadership Qualities That Great Leaders Have in Common

Exceptional leadership qualities are essential in inspiring teams and accomplishing amazing things. The list below are qualities that are common among successful managers, coaches, and CEOs.

What is Leadership?

According to Forbes, leadership is the use of someone's social influence so that he can enlist the help and support of others to accomplish a common task.

Field Marshall Montgomery, who is the first leader to conceptualize the idea of leadership as a distinct function (i.e. independent from command), defined leadership as 'the art of getting someone else to do something you want to be done because he wants to do it.'

Investopedia, on the other hand, claims that leadership is 'the act of using your influence in a group of individuals to bring to fruition a common goal.' This definition is worth paying closer attention to. Why? Because it explains leadership in terms that you can relate to your own life.

While Tony Robbins claimed that leadership 'is influence'. This leadership style specifies the fact that leadership isn't power.

All these definitions point out that leaders are ordinary humans like you and me. They need to influence others to have a common goal, just like how your life will be better off if you have strong leadership qualities in your garden shed organization.

A wealth of literature on leadership qualities exists by business experts, psychologists, military leaders, politicians, philosophers, and even religious leaders. These writings have defined what leadership is for thousands of years. They have identified that certain traits are essential for leadership. Just like every field, leadership has its vocabulary.

Some of the most commonly used words in business circles and academic institutions include leadership qualities, skills, and abilities. It is difficult to define what exactly they mean by this because there is no standard definition of leadership that everyone can agree upon.

This could be a result of the fact that leadership is extremely personal. It differs from one person to another and it might include different qualities at different times. Leadership traits and characteristics are as unique as the people who possess them. This contributes to a variety of perspectives on what exactly constitutes great leadership qualities.

Are Leadership Qualities Innate?

There is a lot of debate about whether leadership qualities are innate or not. In fact, according to Elizabeth B. Watson's article on leadership skills, leadership qualities can be learned and acquired through experience in the workplace, but they are not innate qualities that only certain people have within them while others do not.

To be a good leader, you have to nurture and hone your leadership qualities to develop skills that will enable you to motivate other people in pursuit of your organizational goals and objectives.

How do leadership qualities work?

A male with a question mark on top of his head questioning how leadership qualities work.

Leadership qualities are more closely associated with leadership skills. This is because leadership traits can be developed through training and determination. One of the things that make leaders great is their willingness to learn, no matter how old they are or what stage of life they are in.

Because of this, it's clear that greatness has nothing at all to do with age, experience, or seniority. That is why leadership skills cannot be grouped into specific traits or qualities because they change over time and are influenced by external factors such as personal experiences.

So, how do leadership qualities work? It's not that complicated. Leadership qualities can be developed by people who have the basic skills or talents needed to lead a group of individuals. In fact, according to Henry L. Tosi and Robert J. Thierauf, "leadership qualities are the abilities individuals possess to get things done through people."

In other words, great leadership is not about a person's behavior or personality; it's about their ability to provide inspiration and motivation by encouraging individuals in a group to achieve goals that could never be achieved on their own.

How to develop leadership qualities

It's important to learn how to lead well so you can make all the right choices on your path towards success in life. This is concurrent to what leadership guru John Maxwell said when he remarked that leadership can be learned in the same way you learn any other skill. He noted, "leadership is a choice and it's one that anyone can make."

Now, this isn't to say that learning how to lead is effortless – far from it. To become an effective leader, you must constantly work on developing and refining your leadership qualities. You can read books or you can talk to experienced people, through these, you can learn everything about leadership that will help you greatly in your quest to be a great leader. The trick is knowing what characteristics it takes to develop these leadership qualities in you and which ones are more important than the others.

20 Most Important Leadership Qualities That Great Leaders Have in Common

The following 20 leadership qualities are those that great leaders share in common with one another. The first thing you need to do is identify which traits apply to your style of leading others. As such, it is important to remember that no one leadership style is better than another. Whether you prefer to deal with people through inspiration, by setting examples, or by creating clear structures will vary from individual to individual.

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to what constitutes good leadership skills, and the list below is just that: a list of traits that great leaders have in common.

1. They are self-aware and prioritize personal development

Self-awareness is a personal journey that evolves. You need to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and passions to focus on the areas that can help you grow as both an individual and a leader.

Through self-awareness, you will be able to identify the areas where you need to improve and will realize what your strengths are. A strong sense of self-awareness can help a leader mature into an individual who takes responsibility for their actions.

In the pursuit of self-development, great leaders prioritize their time so that they have enough room for both work and leisure activities. They can also draw on past experiences to learn from mistakes and move on.

2. They focus on developing others

A female leader focusing on training her members as she shows through a computer screen.

Great leaders know that success is something that should be shared, not something they can achieve on their own. They know how to balance themselves and others.

This quality allows great leaders to work well with other people by cooperating with them to create a stronger team or organization. Good leaders don't play favorites, but instead, provide opportunities for everyone who wants to learn and grow.

Consequently, developing others enables them to maximize each person's potential and create a strong employee base that will help the company succeed. Leaders who are goal-oriented know how to harness the powers of everyone around them to reach a common goal. They plan goals for themselves and others, even if it means changing their own goals as needed.

3. They are ethical and civic-minded

Other common traits of great leaders are being ethical and civic-minded. This means they are honest, avoiding fraudulent or other illegal behaviors that could hurt their team or organization. "Good leaders make ethical choices for the benefit of others," says Doug Lennick on Forbes.com. They also have strong moral character, which most people consider essential in leadership quality.

Ethics and strong moral character are important in good leadership because they help a leader positively influence and motivate others. For example, if an organization's CEO has problems with conflict of interest or insider trading, the reputation of the organization is likely to suffer. If a senior executive seems to have questionable morals, it can negatively impact employees' willingness to work hard for that goal.

Civic-mindedness, on the other hand, means that a leader has a strong concern for the welfare of society. People who are civic-minded probably donate regularly to charities and do volunteer work. They don't just talk about being concerned with good citizenship, they demonstrate it through their actions.

Of course, civic-mindedness doesn't mean that an executive is necessarily trustworthy or honest. But in the case of integrity, civic-mindedness is closely related to honesty. If someone has strong moral beliefs and thinks they have a responsibility to society, then it would be hard for them to turn from these values when dealing with money matters.

4. They are Honest and have Integrity

Honesty and Integrity are the cornerstones of good business. When people feel they can trust you, it means you are more likely to gain their loyalty and respect. Moreover, people will feel comfortable working for an honest company, knowing that they won't have to be worrying about being ripped off.

Honesty and integrity as leadership qualities are critical to building strong work relationships- the leader has a responsibility to ensure that everyone works in an atmosphere where they feel comfortable and trusted because this trust is essential for getting the best out of your employees. These two traits are also vital for ensuring that your business is operated legally.

5. They are Committed and Passionate

A team being committed and working hard for their projects, as they work through problems on their laptops.

Being committed and passionate about their work and the company they are working for will go a long way towards building strong leadership qualities. If you want to stand out from your competitors, you need to be committed and passionate about what you do, so that people see these things in you as well. With that said, passion goes both ways. If your employees don't feel any passion for the business they are working for, it's going to be extremely hard for them to perform well.

Leaders that have a certain degree of leadership skills can define team goals and work with their team members to achieve these goals, which helps build bonds between employees. This in turn increases enthusiasm, commitment, trust, and motivation among all of these individuals, which makes them more willing to go the extra mile for their team.

6. They Delegate and Empower

Break your tasks into small chunks so that employees learn how to manage their time. You don't want them to wait until the last minute to do a project or work on something because it will most likely get done at a rushed pace and may not be as well-executed as you had hoped for.

Among many other things great leaders do is to always work hard to find the right plans that will enable them to delegate tasks. This approach allows leaders to check their weaknesses and strengths, manage different areas of the business effectively, and get a well-rounded view of what they do for their team.

And with delegation, comes empowerment as well as leadership skills. Empowerment is the capacity or ability given to someone to act independently and make decisions - realizing that with power comes responsibility.

Those who fail to understand this concept of empowerment are the same people who also cannot delegate tasks effectively, which is a sign of weakness for an effective leader, because they have become less than effective in their leadership skills.

7. They are Creative and Innovative

Being creative and innovative are the types of leadership skills that great leaders have in common. They not only recognize the importance of creativity but they know how to harness its power and make it work to their advantage.

A great leader knows that creating a positive image is an important strategy for success - this requires innovative ideas to achieve objectives or goals more effectively. What's more, Being creative is a leadership quality that's essential for success.

When a leader is not creative and innovative in his leadership skills, it becomes hard to discover new opportunities or ideas that will help your organization reach its full potential as an effective global business leader.

8. They have Vision and Purpose

A leader having a vision of achieving the top and becoming successful.

Having a vision and identifying your purpose are good leadership qualities that not only help guide your organization and team but also give you a better understanding of what is important to them. Vision and purpose are vital for any successful leader, as it defines your long-term goals. This allows you to see the big picture instead of being stressed about small details that can be handled by others in their own time.

Leaders who have a clear vision and purpose are much better equipped to deal with the challenges of leadership. You will need effective strategies and tactics that can help you achieve your goals, as well as having trustworthy relationships throughout your team. These qualities are what make a true leader great. Having vision also means being able to look at any situation from multiple perspectives. This allows leaders to be confident in their decision-making and to be flexible.

To lead, you need to know where you are going – both personally and in your profession. Having a strong set of goals will help you develop the leadership qualities that will make you successful. Having vision also means being able to look at any situation from multiple perspectives. This allows leaders to be confident in their decision-making and to be flexible.

9. They are focused and driven

To be able to be considered as someone who radiates quality leadership, being focused and driven are essential qualities. These personality traits will allow you to pay attention to the tasks at hand and will help with time management. Your commitment and dedication are essential for reaching your objectives on time.

And that's not all, being focused and driven also means being disciplined and having control over your emotions. You can't be expected to perform well under pressure if you are not able to concentrate on the tasks at hand without letting outside factors prevent you from achieving your goals.

You must be above all, a great motivator, a person who doesn't give up when faced with bad times and won't stop until the job is done. This means you'll have to display charisma, but also keep your feet on the ground so that people don't lose respect for you.

10. They Are Future-Oriented

Planning out your organization's future and studying the risk is one leadership quality that all great leaders have. They understand that things never turn out the way they want them to and so, they prepare for any eventuality. You should not be afraid of failure if your plan is strong and you've done everything humanly possible to prevent it from happening, even so, you should always expect the unexpected.

Being future-oriented, you should never be hasty when making decisions, as your focus is always on what will happen tomorrow. You should be able to see things from a long-term perspective and how your decisions today will affect others in the future. You should always think of the bigger picture, rather than just you or your immediate circle.

11. They have Positive Attitude

A male leader with a positive quality as he sings and plays the guitar to turn things around when things are bad.

Positivity is a leadership quality that is important to have. You must always be positive and there should never be a single instance when you are not in good spirits. That doesn't mean that negative things should not affect you, but it means that as soon as they do, you take the necessary action to turn everything around for the better.

You must always keep your chin up when you are around people and should never appear down in the dumps, even if some negative things have happened to you. Being positive in all the aspects of your life is a very strong leadership quality and it is important to do that; if not, then you will become a leader who people are wary of because they don't know what to expect from your negative mood swings.

12.  They Take Responsibility

All great leaders are committed to the betterment of their community, whether at a local level or beyond. "The best leaders develop vision and values that they live and then make sure the organization and all its followers do the same," says Dan Rockwell on Inc.com. Leaders should inspire their followers, rather than simply use fear and intimidation.

Leaders should be able to understand their followers' needs and concerns as well as those of the organization (or community) they serve. They should also pay attention to what is going on around them to gain a greater understanding of the issues and problems faced by their followers.

Furthermore, a responsible leader is honest and trustworthy; for instance, the leader does not take credit for the ideas of others or engage in self-deception. Leaders who maintain high ethical standards avoid engaging in conflicts of interest and never place their interests above those of the organization (or community).

13.  They share their vision

As a leader, sharing your vision is important because it keeps your followers focused and committed to a common goal. This requires communication on the part of the leader.

In short, great leaders can ensure that their vision is widely known among their followers (through personal connections, social media, etc.), even as they also keep themselves accountable for its fulfillment in practice.

Being able to share your vision is important because it keeps your followers focused and committed to a common goal. Take the time to ensure that it is widely known among your followers, through personal connections, social media, etc., even as you also keep yourself accountable for its fulfillment in practice.

Leaders who fail to share their vision are subjecting themselves (and others) to greater risk since it means that their followers are operating in the dark and making decisions with no specific goal in mind.

When there's a gap between what leaders envision (their vision) and how they expect others to handle implementation (how their followers do things), confusion ensues, which can lead down the wrong path and set steps in motion that go against the leader's vision and ultimate goals.

14.  They Lead by example

Leading by example is based on the principle that people tend to mimic what they see in others.

Leaders who expect their followers to behave as if they are contributing to a cause greater than themselves must first lead by example; they need to show how things should be done and the behaviors they expect from their followers.

Leaders who expect others to think strategically yet do not engage in strategic thinking are laying the foundation of failure. Leaders who use metrics without understanding their importance or knowing how to use them fail to provide direction that can keep a project, program, or business on course.

Consequently, leaders who employ power and fear to compel others to step up and accept responsibility for performing well will fail.

15.  They make hard decisions

A leader needs to makes hard choices as this picture shows a male having a hard time choosing which milk brand to choose.

Leading people is not easy. Quite the contrary, leading people requires courage. Leaders should make hard decisions that will require followers to step up and willingly accomplish goals that can only be accomplished by each performing far beyond his comfort zone.

Unfortunately, leadership is not for the faint of heart. Leaders who want to accomplish their goals must be willing to make hard decisions and take the heat from followers who will put up a mild protest when asked to do things that are outside their comfort zone. The benefits that result from making those decisions are greater than the minor discomfort that followers will experience as they adjust to new roles and responsibilities.

Decision-making and problem solving must not be done alone by leaders but with followers. To accomplish this goal, respect for followers is a must.

16.  They Demonstrate strong ethics and provides a sense of safety

Being able to foster a sense of belonging and connection with followers is important to get the most out of them. This happens when there is a clear line between what they want to achieve and what it will take for them to succeed.

Great leadership skills include having the ability to be vulnerable enough with followers so that trust can be developed beneficially. This means that to be a great leader, a sense of openness must exist between leaders and followers so that this trust can be fostered.

Great leadership skills also include the ability to create a sense of connection and belonging so that followers can work in their best interest and not just for the idea of being united as a whole.

17.  They Foster a sense of connection and belonging

Being able to foster a sense of belonging and connection with followers is important to get the most out of them. This happens when there is a clear line of sight between what they want to achieve and what it will take for them to succeed.

Great leadership skills include having the ability to be vulnerable enough with followers so that trust can be developed beneficially. This means that to be a great leader, a sense of openness must exist between leaders and followers so that this trust can be fostered.

You also need the ability to create a sense of connection and belonging so that followers can work in their best interest and not just for the idea of being united as a whole.

18.  They show openness to new ideas and fosters organizational learning

A leader doing design thinking with her members as she fosters new ideas and learning.

Being open to new ideas and fostering organizational learning is one of the most important characteristics that great leaders have in common. They are constantly looking for ways to make improvements on what is currently happening within their organization and they want to include others in this process so that more followers can understand where the organization is headed.

Great leaders know that if they can show followers what an organization stands for, then their followers will do their best to get behind and support the core values of the organization. They also want to make sure it is clear how each person fits into the bigger picture.  They don't just talk to people, but rather work with them to bring out the best in each of them.

19.  They set clear goals

Setting clear goals that are realistic, challenging, and attainable will be a strong foundation for any organization. If the leadership cannot set clear goals, it is highly unlikely that the followers will. Great leaders have to do more than just talking about their values; they have to live them every day for other people to understand what their company stands for and work toward the same goal.

Working towards the same goal is not the same as everyone knows their place. Great leaders have to know when it is time for others to challenge them and adjust the course, if necessary.

The key here though isn't that you set goals but how you set them. If they are too easy or too hard then people will either give up because they think things will be too tough or they will get bored because things are too easy. If goals are set correctly then everyone will be encouraged to reach for them and it will help to prove the leader's vision and, in turn, give others a chance to grow into their roles as leaders.

20.  They Communicate with the team

A leader communicating with the team with their laptops sitting on their lap while seating on a bean bag. Explaining the challenges and a way to solve.

Communicating with the team is another leadership quality that great leaders have in common. They will explain the struggles and challenges that they may be facing. This way, their team can help them out with solutions or encouragement.

Not everybody is receptive to an open line of communication but a good leader knows how to lead by example here and people will follow suit. Not only does this benefit them as a leader but it gives the team a chance to understand what is required from them. And that makes all of the difference.


In conclusion, leadership qualities are more than just about being in a leadership position. Anyone can take on the title of manager or boss and make decisions for others to follow, but it takes a strong leader to stand up when facing adversity.  A leader is always there when you need them, even if they may not always be there when you want them.

It is important to be a leader that not only knows what their team needs from them but also works hard to provide those requirements. Just showing up and giving orders isn't leadership – it's management.  A strong leader knows how to lead and that is generally done through communication. By listening and following, the team can grasp what it takes to succeed for the group as a whole.

These leadership qualities aren't just given to anyone. It takes time and practice for a leader to develop those strong skills. Great leadership is about learning to listen to your team members, knowing what they need for the successful completion of a task. It is not about "telling" people what needs doing and then moving on.

It is about developing relationships that work for the betterment of the team. A team has many functions and as a leader, it is up to you to show them how they can be successful in those areas. By doing so, your employees will have an understanding of their responsibility and what is expected from each member.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For more clarifications. below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) about leadership that you should know.

How do leadership qualities work?

Leadership works in such a way that a leader will inspire his followers, to work together to achieve a better objective. The purpose of this is to achieve a shared vision that all members can commit to as well as be committed towards your goals. Radiating strong leadership qualities will help you develop the trust that will be needed to have your employees follow you.

How to develop leadership qualities?

Developing strong leadership qualities can be done through training. The organization should allot time and resources to help the members develop strong leadership skills. Training the people into someone with strong leadership qualities will create a formidable team that can accomplish your goals.

Leadership also affects communication with others, in this case, training to develop strong leadership qualities is the key to better interactions and better relationships among the employees of an organization.

Why leadership qualities are important

Having strong leadership qualities is important because it's the quality of a leader that makes him different from the remaining members of an organization. And that is what makes him stand out among the rest and be recognized for his achievements. Leaders are creative enough to find ways to make things happen and solve problems confronting their groups, company, or organization. A strong leadership qualities person is like a moving force that pushes the group towards its goals and objectives.

Leadership qualities are skills that a person develops during his lifetime. It makes him become a strong leader who is admired by his followers and can easily influence their decisions in every way possible.

What leadership qualities are most important

The most important leadership qualities that you can have are as follows:

1. Integrity  - a person who has integrity is the type of person that you can believe in and rely on. He never deceives others with his words, he always means what he says and if he makes mistakes, he will take charge of them immediately. He also knows how to apologize to everyone in case they think that what he had done was wrong.

2. Being able to inspire and motivate people  - you need to know how to guide others and move them in a certain direction. This is one of the most important leadership qualities that every leader should have because, without it, they will lose their followers quickly and will not be able to achieve any goals.

3. Treating everyone equally - this is one leadership quality that makes a great leader because he never discriminates against people based on their age, gender, race, or religion. Every person has the same rights in his eyes and every voice deserves to be heard. He does not look down on anyone just because of their status or position in life and he does not discriminate against them.

4. Empowering people - as a great leader, he knows how to empower others so that everyone can do the work they were meant to do and still be able to accomplish all the goals of the organization or group. He gives trust in others because he believes that his employees have all that it takes to make the company grow.

5. Strong Communication Skills - every good leader must be able to converse with his people. He talks to them and listens. This allows him to understand his employees better and at the same time, he also understands the needs of his followers so that he can meet their expectations and achieve success together.

What are examples of leadership qualities

Some of the great leadership qualities are:

A. Visionary and high goal-setter

A good leader should have a clear goal for every employee of the organization including himself. He should be able to encourage his people so that they can reach their goals without any difficulty. If every employee in an organization is inspired by a higher vision, then it would not be difficult for them to work towards the common goal of the organization.

A good leader should be able to set a goal for his team and then, motivate each staff member of his team accordingly so that they can achieve their goals effectively and successfully with full dedication.

B. Great communicator

Communication is another important aspect of leadership qualities because, without communication in an organization, it would become very difficult for every individual of an organization to work together with full dedication towards the same direction. A good leader should be able to communicate his thoughts and ideas clearly with each member of his team so that they can get a clear idea about what their role is in the organization and how they have to achieve their goals effectively. Communicating effectively is one of the most important leadership qualities that great leaders have in common.

E. Servant leader

A good leadership style to have is being a servant leader, and he should be able to help his team solve their problems so that they can lead happier lives. A good leader is always the first person to jump into action whenever there is a need for anything in the organization. A leader should never be afraid of getting his hands dirty with work and he is always willing to do anything to achieve a goal because strong leadership qualities are one thing that all great leaders have in common.

what can build up leadership qualities?

If you want to be considered a leader, you should develop certain qualities that most great leaders possess. All the qualities must be inherent within you just like it is with great leaders. A good leader has strong leadership qualities and they are always willing to help people who need something from them either for their personal or professional life. They will do whatever possible to help their team grow. A strong leader is not just concerned about the personal growth of their team but also for the company's growth as a whole.

What’s the best leadership quality someone can have?

The best leadership qualities someone could have include:

1. Great people management skills.

They know how to manage their team and get the best out of them. Great leaders try to make the right decisions at any given time no matter what it takes.

2. Great communications skills.

People need to know where they stand and what is expected of them. Great leaders will do whatever they can to make sure their team knows the plan at any given time.

3. Keep things positive.

Great leaders know how to keep things positive even in difficult situations. They are not always negative when things are not going as planned but try to find ways to turn them around. Optimistic leaders will always have a great team to work with. They keep the atmosphere light when it is needed most. They know how to bring up everyone's spirits even though they might be down at the moment. Great leaders aren't afraid to show their emotions, good or bad.

What do you feel is the most important leadership quality?

The most important quality of a leader is his ability to listen. If a leader can listen then they can understand what their team wants which means that the team will be satisfied in the end. There are many leaders out there who do not listen and in the end, they lose respect from everyone on their team.

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