What are the key qualities a leader should possess

leadership qualities
Ted Scott
Ted Scott
5 March 2024
8 min

To lead your team to success, it is not enough to have professional skills, experience or knowledge in a certain field. Every manager must be an example, a leader who can organize, inspire and lead others. Leaders are not followed because of formal power or authority. There is a real trust and respect for these people, although these factors are usually interrelated and manifest themselves through experience, for example in the implementation of complex projects.

Leaders are not born, but become leaders. For the emergence of important qualities of a leader, as well as many other skills, it is necessary to develop and nurture personality. Let’s try to tell and understand what are the qualities of a leader. In what way to improve and form them to achieve success.

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History of the emergence of leadership

The concept of leadership has been of interest to mankind since ancient times. Many political figures and philosophers of antiquity thought about how real it was to learn to change the world around them, to persuade and lead people. Initially it was assumed that for this purpose it was necessary to have an innate talent. Thomas Carlyle’s book, published in 1841, formulated the theory of “the great man”. The philosophical definition was developed and continued by Francis Galton, who in 1869 wrote the monumental work “Hereditary Genius”. In both works, the idea of hereditary continuity of leadership qualities was taken as a basis. Scholars argued that the world could be changed only by rare individuals endowed with the gift of leadership from birth. For example, the prophet Muhammad, Martin Luther or the famous manager Napoleon.

Then, with the help of psychology, the opposite view emerged: that the necessary leadership skills can be acquired in the course of life by building self-discipline, determination and self-confidence. Many modern authors, such as Stephen Zaccaro, Paige Bader, Carey Kemp and others, argue that although innate charisma and social skills help to gain respect in society, true leadership consists of many skills that need to be developed, as well as from various external factors.

What qualities a leader should possess

So, we’ve got it all figured out: anyone can be a leader. But, for this, it is necessary to have the initial data – a certain set of characteristics and abilities, which are to be actively developed. Let’s consider what qualities make a person a leader:

  1. Solid character. It is he who determines how a person behaves in this or that situation. If he allows “weakness” in a difficult moment, people stop believing in him.
  2. Courage and bravery. In critical situations, you often have to take risks. It is not always possible to foresee the consequences of actions taken. But, this does not mean that you should passively wait for everything to normalize “by itself”. Often spontaneous decisions are the most correct.
  3. Charisma, inner charm. This key trait can also be developed by following simple tips and principles:
  • Be optimistic, love life.
  • Appreciate every person you have to communicate and work with.
  • Give people hope, be convincing in what you do.
  • Have the courage to share your best qualities with them.
  • Be able to justify your point of view

Charismatic people find it easier to lead any team.

  1. Dedication. If a leader knows what he is doing, loves his job and understands its importance, his mood will be transmitted to the rest of the team. This will make it even more cohesive and organized. People who are dedicated to their work are ideal motivators for others. They are trusted, helped and followed.
  2. Competence. A leader must clearly understand what he is doing and what he is striving for. And be able to convince others of this. The team of like-minded people and subordinates should have no questions about his qualifications or competence. An unseeing leader will not be popular with subordinates. To achieve this, it is important to constantly develop in various areas. Self-improvement, learn something new, get new knowledge and skills. Bring all the started cases to the end. Inspire others and exceed their expectations.
  3. The ability to find a common language with others. This is necessary in order to clearly describe and communicate your thoughts and ideas to your subordinates, colleagues and employees, to maintain their enthusiasm and motivate them to action. The following principles should be followed to develop communication skills:
  • Set out thoughts and objectives in simple language.
  • When communicating, address specific people. Eye contact is very important here.
  • Speak the truth, to the point.
  • Achieve a response from opponents.
  1. A sense of tact towards others. One word can bring you to heaven or kill you. That is why every supervisor, manager should be extremely correct in wording to all those around him. Respecting the rights of others, sympathizing, showing kindness and generosity towards the members of his working team, his leader should be able to form a favorable environment for effective teamwork. This always yields positive results.
  2. Simplicity in communication. People who show arrogance when building team management rarely enjoy the trust and respect of others. Often these qualities hide the lack of proper qualifications or banal insecurity. The same applies to the tasks set before the performers. They must be extremely clear and understandable both for the management and for each participant in the work process.
  3. Self-organization and self-discipline. A true leader is able to focus in critical conditions to make the right decisions. Does not stop in case of failures, moves in the chosen direction, overcoming insecurity and personal fears.
  4. Willingness to take responsibility for their own and others’ actions. A person who leads people has the mentality of a winner, a mentor. He understands his place in life and is ready to take responsibility for his actions. A manager with the traits of a leader takes on a case in which he understands, and performs it well. Ready to go further than required. Strives for perfection, achieving the best result. And, he achieves this result regardless of the obstacles or situation.

When discussing what mandatory qualities a leader should possess, optimism, clarity of mind, logical thinking, fairness, ability to share experiences, honesty, openness, flexibility and perseverance should be added to the list.

Modern types of leadership

Modern types of leadership

There are several approaches that consider certain types of leadership and their associated management styles. It is worth listing some of them.

Behavioral leadership

This term refers to the style of communication with subordinates and followers. The most whole objective classification of behavioral leadership styles was proposed by Kurt Lewin. It includes:

  1. Authoritarian style. The main thing that distinguishes it is single-handed decision-making with strict control over the fulfillment of tasks, without taking into account the interests of the team. Using this style of leadership, it is possible to perform an increased amount of work in limited time. But, authoritarian leadership negatively affects the psychological environment within the group, reduces the motivation and initiative of participants.
  2. The democratic style is based on joint decision-making, distribution of responsibility for work among all team members. Tasks in this case are performed at a slower speed. But, the group works in an atmosphere of freedom and benevolence, which contributes to the adoption of original and creative solutions.
  3. The liberal management style consists in the almost complete absence of influence of the manager’s authority on the decisions made by the team. He plays the role of an observer, watching the work process “from the sidelines”. This significantly reduces the speed of task fulfillment. Liberal management does not dispose to active work and leads to regression.

Situational leadership

This concept was developed by Paul Harsey and Kenneth Blanchard. Its main message is the need to vary management styles depending on the motivation and level of employees. According to this theory, a leader can choose:

  • Indicative leadership, in which the leader decides all issues independently. Possesses sole power, to which no one has the right to claim.
  • Mentoring style based on persuasion and motivation. The leader in this case can be compared to a sports coach managing a sports team.
  • Supportive management style is based on the leader’s active participation in the process of forming ideas while giving the group freedom and independence. He is an equal participant in the team.
  • Delegating leadership, when the leader forms the idea of the project and entrusts its realization to the team. He has a strategic and coordinating role.

Emotional leadership

This theory includes six styles proposed by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. It is based on the impact on human emotions. According to the concept, leadership is divided into the following styles:

  • Visionary. This style is convenient for developing new directions and forming a vision of the future. The leader specifies goals, and the team independently chooses ways to move towards them. Causes inspiration.
  • Coaching. Helps to “pull up” employees who are lagging behind. Provides them with support and advice. Under his guidance, subordinates feel cared for. This contributes to increased interest in work and better motivation.
  • Democrat. It is indispensable in teams consisting of highly qualified specialists. He helps to make joint decisions, correctly prioritize tasks, taking into account the opinions of the team. With him, team members feel their importance for the project.
  • Commander. This style is more appropriate for crisis situations. It implies making unpopular decisions for the sake of business. Under such leadership, subordinates may lose initiative and feel apathy.
  • Host. He is attracted to achieve quick results. He is active, mobile and makes quick decisions. He sets a high bar for performers and participates in all work processes himself. This style can lead to emotional burnout and nervous exhaustion of employees.
  • An affiliative leader gives those around him a sense of cohesion and energizes them with optimism. Resolves disputes and unites the team.

In today’s business environment, three more types of leadership are being considered:

  • Attributional. The leader observes the behavior of subordinates. Based on his observations, he builds relationships with each of them.
  • Charismatic. Based on the manager’s personal qualities and management style.
  • Transformative. The manager combines personal goals of employees with the interests of the company. Stimulates subordinates for development, convinces them of the importance of the tasks to be performed.

How to learn to be a leader

To develop leadership skills at the first stage, you need to soberly assess your abilities, capabilities, resume, strengths, emotional intelligence. Develop these skills, bring them to perfection. The following rules will help in this:

  1. Plan all activities on a daily basis. Distribute current tasks with a certain amount of time allocated for their realization. Take time to make a plan in the evening and stick to it during the next day.
  2. Control and manage your emotions. Do not get excited over nothing. Make all decisions in a calm state.
  3. Take responsibility for the actions of the team. Ensure that delegated tasks are carried out. Take timely action to correct any problems that arise.
  4. Take care of your appearance and image. The way you look, talk and behave to others forms your image in the eyes of others. A poorly groomed, insecure, rude and illiterate person does not inspire confidence in others. If you have no experience in public speaking, enroll in public speaking courses.

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One of the main qualities of a real leader is self-organization and the ability to manage one’s time. Various tools are used to successfully master this skill. For example, the LeaderTask Task Manager, which supports all basic time management techniques and methods.

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In this article we have considered the main qualities that a person aspiring to leadership should possess. In order to develop them, it is necessary to work on yourself, self-improvement and development on a daily basis. A leader is a competent manager who correctly uses formal and informal tools to achieve goals. For this purpose it is important to have professionalism, authority in the eyes of subordinates, to be confident in their abilities, to be able to hear others and to negotiate.

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