Effective leadership can mean many things to different people. One good definition of an effective leader is “a person who does the following:
- Creates an inspiring vision of the future.
- Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
- Manages delivery of the vision.
- Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.”
If we look at it closely what strong and effective leadership looks like, we find that there are a few qualities of a great leader that tend to be true across the board. These are the traits that every good leader has, or should strive for.
The Top 10 Characteristics of a Great Leader
For all we know, the greatest quality any good and effective leader can have is vision or the ability to see the bigger picture of where the organization or team they are working within is headed, what it is capable of, and what it will take to get there.
As important as having a clear vision is the ability of an effective leader to convey that vision to others, and get them excited about it. It means maintaining a positive yet realistic presence within the organization and helping one’s team members stay motivated and engaged, and remember what it is that they are working for.
- Strategic & Critical Thinking
A good and effective leader is expected to be able to think critically about the organization or team they work within, and develop a clear understanding of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (and how they as an individual can work to support or overcome these).
- Interpersonal Communication
Good effective leaders must be able to interact with other people in a way that feels genuine. They must demonstrate empathy, engage in active listening, and build meaningful working relationships with those around them, whether they are a peer or a direct report.
- Authenticity & Self-Awareness
One of the key ways to become a great leader is to be self-aware enough to understand one’s strengths and their flaws, and to build an authentic leadership style that’s true to who they are and how they do their best work.
- Open-Mindedness & Creativity
Being a good leader means that one must be open to new ideas, possibilities, and perspectives, and understand that there’s no “right” way to do things. Effective leadership involves the knowledge that success comes along with a willingness to change how things are done and to usher in fresh views to inspire new ideas, in addition to trying to think outside the box as much as possible. So, good leaders must be able to listen, observe, and be willing to change course when necessary.
Effective leadership also means being adaptable and nimble when the situation calls for it because nothing ever goes according to plan – whether one faces minor roadblocks or large obstacles, they will need to be prepared to stop, reassess, and determine a new course of action.
- Responsibility & Dependability
One of the most important qualities an effective leader can have is a sense of responsibility and dependability. This means displaying those traits in their individual work, but also demonstrating them in their interactions with others. Their team members need to know that they can depend on them to take on their fair share of work and follow through, support them through tough times, and help them meet both shared and individual goals.
- Patience & Tenacity
A good and effective leader knows how to take the long view, whether it is of a strategy, a situation, or a goal. The ability to take on any hiccups on the way and persist on without getting frustrated or defeated is key. From small projects to corporate vision, patience is a trait that is therefore essential to strong leadership.
- Continuous Improvement
Truly effective leaders know that perfection is a myth and that there is always room for improvement on all levels, from the personal to the team to the overall organization. They will, therefore, always be willing to help team members find ways to develop new skills or improve upon a weakness, be able to identify and implement strategies for helping the organization as a whole grow, and, perhaps most importantly, be able to look inward and identify the areas they would like to work on – and then act on them.