10 Must-Have Leadership Skills, Characteristics and Qualities

Whenever I come across the term ‘leadership’, I remember a great thought of a renowned personality, John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States.

“If your actions inspire others to dream, learn, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”

There have been so many great leaders that have left long-lasting impressions on people. When you think of them, you literally can’t stop yourself from wondering:

What made them so special? Is there any secret to becoming a great leader? Or is it the case that these leaders are born exceptional, with leadership as a gift?

Well, the truth is, anyone can become a leader with the right inspiration, support, and values. Believe me when I say that many leaders started out as people just like you and me. They had to learn and develop leadership qualities.

Being a leader is not an overnight journey. Instead, it is a continuous learning process and gaining experiences that hone your leadership skills. There is a common misconception that leadership is the same as management. The truth is that management is an attribute of a great leader.

Whatever reason it may be – whether it is gaining a promotion or developing yourself to be potential of becoming a manager or team leader at your organization, you may desire to develop leadership skills.

Let us look at a few common traits that make you a great leader. So, let us get started!

What is Leadership?

It is an ability of an individual or a group to lead, influence, guide, and motivate other individuals, teams, or organizations to accomplish a specific goal. Simply put, it is the art of inspiring others through ideas.

According to John Maxwell,

‘Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.’

A great leader is capable of doing the following:

  • Creates a vision of the future.
  • Inspires and encourages people to engage in accomplishing the vision.
  • Regulates the process of achieving the vision.
  • Guides the team to be more effective at fulfilling the vision.

When it comes to a business or organization, anyone can be a leader, irrespective of position. Sometimes, a manager does not possess the essential qualities that make them a good leader.

For many people, leadership is ordering people around. But, it is all about serving as a source of inspiration and empowerment for others to achieve success and progress.

But, a great leader considers the greater picture rather than their interests.

10 Must-Have Leadership Skills, Characteristics and Qualities

Let us now explore a few must-have traits to become an effective leader.

1. Integrity

Brain Tracy, a self-development author, says that every executive agrees upon integrity as the first core value whenever he conducts a business meeting.

Integrity is a significant attribute of a great leader. When it comes to business, it is impossible to run without integrity. It is the foundation for the relationship between you and your employees and clients.

Good leaders stick to their ethics or moral principles, no matter how challenging the circumstances. This refrains them from taking a wrong decision, opting for a shortcut, or thinking about their gains.

2. Innovative

Many of you may take it the wrong way. You may think that being innovative and creating thought-provoking ideas is what a great leader does. Instead, a leader offers an opportunity for a team to be innovative and put forth their ideas.

A few people possess great ideas but lack confidence, hesitate to speak out, and fear taking action. In such cases, an innovative leader’s responsibility is to encourage people to put their ideas in front of everyone without hesitation.

Innovative leaders always have good listening abilities and motivate their teams or people to think out of the box.

3. Active Listening

When you listen actively to other team members, you get to know their perspectives and understand them closely. Also, people are more likely to open up their ideas when their leaders listen to them sincerely and attentively.

Active listening is one of the roots of becoming an effective leader. It shows your respect for an individual speaking and demonstrates that you value their ideas. This gives individuals encouragement and confidence.

Good leaders always acknowledge what others say and do not interrupt them. Active listening is quite a challenging skill to master; it needs self-awareness and compassion to respect others.

4. Visionary

A good leader must be visionary and far-sighted about the goals and objectives of an organization. They create a vision for an organization’s future and make everyone involved in the process of accomplishing it. In addition, a visionary leader dares to take risks and make unconventional decisions.

5. Excellent Communicator

Conveying your message as a leader to people plays a crucial role in leadership. This needs excellent communication skills.

An effective leader knows how to express thoughts and ideas with appropriate word choices that best fit the situation. Even in a critical situation, they must maintain their composure and use gentle language.

6. Self-Confidence

When you have self-confidence that you can make a change or difference, you become a great leader. This means you trust your competencies and have faith in yourself.

Rosalynn Carter once said, ‘You have to have confidence in your ability and be tough enough to follow through.’

Self-confidence is like having wings to fly high by accomplishing visions and taking risks without fear of failure.

In addition, leaders with self-confidence and strong determination can solve many organizational conflicts and issues. They entirely take charge of the issues and perform actions to solve them immediately.

7. Delegation

It plays a crucial role in boosting productivity and maximizing team performance. It is the process of assigning responsibilities or tasks to every team member. A good leader should be able to delegate effectively and wisely to make the most out of it.

Additionally, a leader knows the right time for the delegation, which keeps future inconveniences at bay. Delegation is not limited to assigning tasks to team members. It is also about understanding the skills and awareness of every team member to accomplish the given tasks.

8. Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

If you are uncertain and unclear, you cannot become a leader. The decision of a leader may make or break the business. As a result, leaders repeatedly evaluate a specific situation before leading any conclusion.

They think about the circumstance from all angles and perspectives and then make a clear and actionable decision. Before coming to any conclusion, they gather all evidence or the required information and do not believe any rumors.

Furthermore, problem-solving is yet another attribute an effective leader must possess. This, in turn, helps them in the decision-making process. Their problem-solving ability help them resolve any problem by identifying potential solutions.

9. Fair Attitude

Being biased toward a few employees does not make you a great leader. You can stand out from the crowd when you think and take action beyond this loop.

Great leaders know it is impossible to achieve anything with a biased and unfair attitude. However, the result is always uncertain, even if something works with a prejudiced and unjust attitude. As a result, they keep unfairness and biases out of their business and create a positive, healthy, and encouraging culture.

10. Self-Motivated and Self-Discipline

When you do anything significant, you get inspiration or motivation from someone. However, leaders motivate themselves and do something extraordinary to set an example for others to get inspired. Even if they encounter tricky and challenging circumstances, they sail their boat swiftly without being chaotic. So, self-motivation is one of the essential leadership qualities.

Being self-disciplined, a great leader develops discipline in others. Besides, they possess excellent time management skills. They encourage people to be disciplined and value time.

The more the employees are disciplined and concerned about time management, the more they can achieve and accomplish.


A good and effective leader always boosts and guides others to achieve their dreams or goals. To become one, you must possess the above leadership qualities and characteristics.

These traits are not innate in anyone. It is perseverance and faith that leads you to this path. Besides, leaders should always be mindful of their thoughts and constantly practice the above skills to grow.

If you have any enticing and informational views regarding this article, feel free to share them in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is leadership?

It is an individual’s ability or practical competence to boost, motivate, influence, and guide others to achieve their goals.

2. What are the leadership styles in business?

There are typically four leadership styles in business – Autocratic, Democratic, Laissez-faire, and Transformational.

3. What are the three pillars of leadership?

The three pillars of leadership are vision, people, and execution.

4. What are the 6 C’s of leadership?

The 6 C’s of leadership are Collaboration, Communication, Creative problem-solving, Commitment, Courage, and Cultural competence.

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