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Leadership Qualities

A good leadership qualities definition includes the ability to motivate and inspire, communicate effectively, be accountable, and make effective decisions. Leadership qualities can vary depending upon the circumstance. A good leader in a military situation may not have the same qualities as a good leader in a classroom or a business. Ultimately, a good leader is someone who can motivate, lead, and work effectively with their team to achieve success. Some people view good leaders as change agents and innovators, while others think of good leaders as people with leadership qualities like integrity, courage, and confidence that allow them to set a good example and motivate others to do work that needs to be done. We need good leaders more than ever. Gallup workplace surveys conducted over the past 20 years have found that 70% of workplace success rests on how team members view their team leaders or managers.

The Definition of a Good Leader

The definition of a good leader includes qualities that some leaders seem to possess from the start, and other qualities that are learned. Any effective leadership definition should also include characteristics like integrity, enthusiasm, courage, self-awareness, and confidence. Surveys of employee perceptions of their leaders rank a sense of humor highly. Along with respect for others and adaptability, a strong leadership definition should include good communications skills. Good leaders are as diverse as their team members, but they all share a belief that the job can get done and a desire to motivate people to strive for excellence. Because good leaders respect their team members as peers, they inspire teams to achieve and do better work. Many good leaders are also humble and find it easy and natural to share credit for a job well-done with their team.

A good leader is someone who can inspire, motivate, support, and lead their team to accomplish goals. They produce measurable results and are accountable for both success and failure. They are also able to learn from mistakes and develop wisdom through experience.

10 Characteristics of a Good Leader

Effective leaders are diverse, but they also have some characteristics in common. One characteristic all good leaders must have is integrity.

U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who led U.S. military forces to victory in World War II, said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

The 10 characteristics of good leaders include:

  • Integrity: Integrity leadership qualities include a strong sense of right and wrong and ethical behavior with others and when no one is watching.
  • Courage: The strength to act for the good of the team and goal even if it is unpopular or risky.
  • Confidence: A sense of belief that you are doing the right thing and that you and the team have the ability to succeed.
  • Commitment and Enthusiasm: A genuine belief in the work being performed and goal to be achieved.
  • Adaptability and flexibility: A willingness to learn from mistakes and change course when needed. Many of the strongest leaders find it easy to admit they were wrong and quickly change course when necessary.
  • Great communicators and great people skills: Great leaders aren’t just talkers or speech makers. They listen to their team members and know how to communicate shared goals and tasks. Did you know that 90% of communication is non-verbal, and only 10% is verbal? Great leaders know how to listen and observe to understand what their team members are thinking and feeling. They know when it’s appropriate to push their team a little harder, or when a break may be needed.
  • Respect for others: Good leaders inspire respect from their team, and they also give respect in return. They show appropriate respect for their circumstances as well — they don’t joke inappropriately or use disrespectful language.
  • Good sense of humor: Inappropriate joking lowers team morale, but appropriate, shared humor is an excellent leadership quality. Good leaders know when to laugh along with the team and easily laugh at their own mishaps.
  • Competence: Good leaders can do the job they are leading others to accomplish. One hallmark of a good leader is the ability to work alongside their team members.
  • Honesty: Good leaders are honest. It’s difficult to think of a successful leader who has not been honest. Remember, “famous” and good are not synonymous. Once viewed this way, the difference between a powerful and famous, but ultimately unsuccessful leader like Napoleon Bonaparte, and a good, successful leader like Nelson Mandela becomes clear.
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6 Characteristics of a Bad Leader

From good leaders who’ve led their teams or entire countries to success and prosperity to the dark side of leadership, people are often fascinated with bad leaders. It can help to study ineffective leadership qualities to learn from them and avoid these bad qualities in our own leadership.

Any bad leadership definition should include the opposite of good leadership qualities and behaviors. For example, although honesty and integrity are mandatory for good leadership, bad leaders are invariably dishonest and lack integrity. We can probably think of many adjectives to describe a bad leader.

The “average” bad leader shares some qualities we’ll all recognize. The 6 characteristics of a bad leader include:

  • Dishonesty: Bad leaders feel no need to tell the truth and often create false scenarios to cover up for problems or mistakes.
  • Lack of respect: Bad leaders feel little need to show respect for team members. They may even mock or denigrate others or show bias or prejudice in their interactions.
  • Poor or no sense of humor: Bad leaders may laugh at others’ misfortune, but they find it difficult or impossible to laugh at themselves or share genuine humor with team members.
  • Incompetence: Poor leaders often cannot accomplish the tasks that their team members perform. The lowest level of bad leader may even think they are “above” doing the work that their team members are performing.
  • Rigid and inflexible: Many bad leaders can’t admit they’ve made a mistake and find it difficult to alter plans once they’ve started a project. Rigidity may come from fear of change, or it can come from a person with a big ego who can’t admit they may have made an error. Either way, rigid and inflexible leaders usually don’t lead projects to success.
  • Fearful and/or timid: Courage and confidence are critical qualities for a good leader. In contrast, bad leaders often fear change and are reluctant to take risks even if a path forward is clear and change is needed.

Develop Leadership Skills with Leadership Training

Some leadership skills are inborn, like a good sense of humor, but the majority of leadership skills are developed through leadership training and learning. Our daily lives often don’t reinforce good communications skills, but practice and training can help you to strengthen your ability to listen and communicate clearly and effectively. Likewise, you can learn how to demonstrate respect for your team members. You can engage in leadership training to develop your ability to clearly set goals and proceed with courage and integrity. We may think of qualities like courage as being inborn, but society sometimes trains us to avoid risk when effective leadership may require risk-taking and innovation. You can build your own team-leading and team building skills through leadership training. As you grow in your leadership ability, so can your teams grow, learn, and achieve

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