18 Good Leadership Qualities for Career Success

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Leadership is a practical skill that is used at all levels of a company. Managers, executives and contributors utilise efficient leadership to move projects, activities and other initiatives forward. Whether you're managing a team or leading a meeting, developing excellent leadership skills is a goal you can strive for at any level in your career. In this article, we discuss the various qualities that every leader should aspire to and examine ways to improve your leadership skills.

What are the qualities of good leadership?

While many qualities can contribute to good leadership, there are a few universal ones that can be useful when developing essential leadership skills. These characteristics, skills and traits can ultimately build the most effective leaders. An effective leader finds the balance between business foresight, character and performance. They have focus, vision, integrity, courage and humility. They can plan strategically and catalyse cooperation amongst their team members. Here are 18 qualities of an excellent leader that one should develop:

Communication

Communication skills are one of the most essential attributes of an effective leader. You have to communicate with a wide range of people across teams, roles, social identities and even with those outside your organisation. Using your words effectively can deliver better results.

You should also be consistent in setting up work expectations or providing constructive feedback. With excellent communication, your team members can have a better understanding of what they are working for.

Read more: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Integrity

Integrity is the foundation of good leadership and a core skill that every leader must possess. You must stand for your beliefs and inspire others with no compromises. Refrain from keeping false promises or taking shortcuts. You should always be ethical and morally grounded and choose your actions accordingly.

Honesty

Being honest and open makes work more enjoyable and efficient. Honesty is an important attribute every leader must possess to garner trust and respect from others. It's also the foundation of the relationships that you build, both with others on your team and with people outside the company.

Respect

Great leaders treat people with respect and gain respect in return. When you treat others with respect, it'll ease conflicts and tensions, build trust and improve effectiveness. A good leader understands the importance of appreciating and recognising employees. They are effective at developing mutual respect and understanding within the company.

Accountability

Being accountable is one of the most essential characteristics of a good leader. It means that you are answerable to the decisions and actions made by you and your team. An accountable leader establishes clear goals. They don't hesitate to ask for help when required and provide constructive feedback.

Courage

Rather than avoiding conflicts or problems, courage allows leaders to step up and move in the right direction. Leaders must have courage on various occasions, such as making an unpopular decision, flagging a concern for a senior manager or providing feedback.

Empathy

Empathy is a critical part of leadership effectiveness. Good leaders make an effort to understand their team members' hopes, problems and motivations so that they can build a personal connection with them. When leaders have an empathetic mindset, they can make better predictions, improve productivity and create better work strategies.

Innovation

An innovative leader is not only a creative genius with thought-provoking ideas but also gives others the freedom to explore and develop their ideas. They always listen to everyone actively and motivate others to think creatively and innovatively.

Patience

Mistakes, failures and miscommunications are inevitable in one's professional life. However, a good leader shows excellent patience and offers support through these challenging times.

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are crucial for effective leadership. For the proper functioning of an organisation, good leaders must have problem-solving and keen analytical skills to make better decisions.

Trust

Supportive leadership involves creating trust among the team members and encouraging communication to keep the team spirit high. When leaders trust in their team to complete the assigned tasks, it boosts morale and fosters mutual respect. With trust and integrity comes respect, which is integral to inspire action among your team members.

Self-discipline

Good leaders are disciplined and know how to manage their time effectively. When you practice self-discipline and lead by example, you inspire others to do the same. Self-discipline can help you achieve more and keep the work environment at ease.

Decision-making skills

Good leaders clearly understand that the impact of their decisions can make or break businesses. They evaluate given circumstances several times before arriving at a conclusion. Also, they don't believe in rumours and closely examine a problem or situation by themselves before making a decision.

Active listening

Active listening is an important characteristic of effective leadership. Good leaders listen to others with great attention and sincerity to fully understand their message and perspective. An active listener can resolve conflicts that arise from miscommunication. Acquiring this skill is not easy; it requires self-awareness and humility to respect others' thoughts.

Ability to delegate

The ability to delegate tasks and activities is a core responsibility of a leader, but it can be tricky at times. Delegation is important for maximising productivity and team performance. A good leader knows how to delegate task wisely and make the best out of them.

Focus and driven

A good leader is focused and can think rationally. Not only do they view a situation as a whole, but they can narrow down the cause and find the solution to the problem. An effective leader should also be self-driven to work harder and achieve better results for the organisation. They are the driving force in their team and encourage everyone to work together.

Confidence

A key leadership skill that you must develop is being confident in every situation. A good leader can display confidence even if they feel uncomfortable or fearful.

Inquisitive

Great leaders are always open to learning new things. They are curious and knowledgeable about several aspects. This helps them to develop unique and thought-provoking ideas and perceptions. Their inquisitive nature allows them to build a positive and rational attitude towards any problems.

Read more: Important Soft Skills Employers in Hong Kong Look For

How to improve your leadership skills

Developing soft skills can be slightly trickier than learning technical skills. Even though it takes practice and time, building these characteristics is important to become an outstanding leader. Here are some pointers for developing your leadership skills:

1. Identify your leadership style

A good leader can adapt their leadership style according to the situation and the people involved. But you may still want to identify the style that you naturally lean towards in order to be helpful in leading your team, meetings or projects.

2. Evaluate your areas of strength and improvement

Perform a self-evaluation to identify which skills and qualities you have already mastered and which you may need to work further. You can also ask for feedback from trusted mentors or colleagues to help you identify strengths and areas of improvement that you may have missed.

3. Set targets to gain skills

Setting personal goals to develop your leadership skills by practising the characteristics of excellent leaders can help you stay on track. Using SMART goals can help you develop your specific skills in a structured manner. SMART stands for:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Time-bound

Read more: How to Write SMART Goals For Your Career (With Examples)

4. Select a mentor

Find a person whom you consider to be an influential leader and whose leadership style you would like to imitate. It could be somebody from your childhood, such as a teacher or a coach. Ask them if they can mentor you or identify a new mentor in your area of interest. You can find mentors within your community through family and friends or even lookup alumni or experts on professional social networks.

5. Be patient

Being an influential leader can take several years. It's important to remain patient and allow yourself to make mistakes, learn from your mistakes and improve over time. Paying attention and improving your skills and qualities that make you an excellent leader can help you with your career advancement. No matter your career stage or industry, when you invest time to practise good leadership skills can definitely improve your career path.

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