There is a wide range of opinions regarding the top qualities of a good leader. What is clear is that, among the many identifiable characteristics shared by leaders, some are more innate than others. Which means that there are certain basic traits individuals are born with and others you can help them develop via leadership training. For our list, we chose key characteristics for leaders of the 21st century to remain relevant.
The top 10 qualities of a good leader
10. Ability to Connect and Communicate– Leaders are master connectors and communicators, a skill that, despite being largely innate, can be taught. They must have the ability to: Connect with employees, clients, vendors, partners, the media, and others and connect their ideas with the needs of the market. And also the ability to communicate their ideas and their vision, the effectiveness of which depends on their communication styles. Go ahead and read Communication Styles That Won’t Carry You Up the Ladder and see if you may be making these mistakes!
9. Ability to inspire- One of the qualities of a good leader most often recognized in iconic figures such as Oprah or Steve Jobs is the ability to inspire others. Although some individuals’ inspire others with their natural charisma, it is possible to teach the mechanics of inspiration. A mark of a true 21st century leader is the ability to inspire others to be leaders themselves
8. Commitment- Only when a leader is committed to their organization’s goals, principles and values can they inspire others to be committed. That commitment needs to be felt in their willingness to work hard and to be measured by the same standards as everyone else. In other words, when employees see leaders making sacrifices, they are more willing to make them themselves. Commitment is a hard (if not impossible) to teach quality. Leadership training is not really effective here.
7. Focus- A laser focus on the organization’s goals is necessary to move it forward. The most effective leaders are those able to keep their focus on the long-term mission even when dealing with short-term challenges. This is one of the qualities of a good leader for which leadership development can be effective.
6. Intelligence- It may go without saying that in order to lead an organization you need to have a certain amount of intelligence. You don’t need to have the highest IQ in the room as you could compensate with street smarts, preparation and choosing the right team, but you do need to be moderately smart.
5. Multicultural sensitivity- We live in an increasingly diverse world where the ability to connect with people from different backgrounds is critical to the success of any organization. Leaders who are conversant in cultural sensitivity have a big advantage over their peers who remain in the ivory tower. Leadership development focused on cultural diversity training can be useful here.
4. Passion- At the center of what characterizes a leader is their passion. Passion is the energy that makes things happen, that makes people attractive to others. This is a very hard quality to instill via leadership training in people who are not passionate about anything. You can try, however, to help individuals who are passionate about a variety of things to focus on something specific.
3. Positive Attitude- Leaders must always have a positive, can-do attitude. It’s the only way to face difficulties and overcome crises. Although you can teach how to see things in a positive light and keep up a positive attitude, we tend to think that, to a large extent, people are born with a tendency to see the glass half-full or half-empty. Leadership development may have a limited effect on this trait.
2. Vision- This is what distinguishes leaders from followers. It’s the dream. Their vision of what can be created that doesn’t yet exist, of how far the organization and its products or services can go, what dream can be achieved. Another one of the very intrinsic characteristics of a leader that is hard to teach.
And the number one quality of a good leader is!!!
1. Willingness to make mistakes- Every leader worth their salt is a risk taker and embraces mistakes as part of the journey. They know mistakes will happen along the way. But a true 21st Century leader also:
- Encourages their team to make mistakes
- Doesn’t punish people for making mistakes as a result of risk-taking
- Uses mistakes as learning opportunities
Leadership training is it effective for leadership development?
It depends on the kind of leadership training. Some leadership training programs are particularly good at eliciting employees’ most important leadership skills. When you combine these programs with leadership development in the areas where the particular employee is weak (perhaps communications or focus) and you can easily see a leader emerge. There are other leadership training programs, however, that would have you believe that you could make a leader out of someone who lacks some of the very basic qualities of a good leader such as intelligence, passion and vision.
Not everyone is a natural born leader and not everyone is even interested in being a leader. The challenge is to look beyond your own stereotypes to find diamonds in the rough and to offer them the right leadership development opportunities so they can flourish.