The Traits of a Great Leader

Leadership involves influencing, supporting, inspiring, and creating opportunities for others. It is an important skill for all of us to cultivate, regardless of our role in the workplace. We are all leaders in some facet of our lives – our homes, our workplaces, our churches and our communities to name a few. I conduct leadership classes regularly as part of my career as a Human Resources Consultant. It occurred to me that the principles that I share apply in other areas of our lives outside of work as well.

As a result, I wanted to share what I believe to be some of the most important aspects of leadership. Let’s start with what NOT to do as a leader. This list certainly isn’t all-inclusive, but these are examples of behaviors that you should avoid.

  • Disrespecting others
  • Breaking promises
  • Having unrealistic expectations
  • Gossiping
  • Criticizing instead of coaching
  • Playing favorites
  • Micromanaging
  • Being arrogant

Now that I’ve shared what not to do, let’s switch gears. There is a ton of information out there but I’ve compiled this list of traits of great leaders from reputable sources such as a study done by Google, Gallup, and Harvard Business Review along with some personal observations.

Show respect.

According to Harvard Business Review, the leadership trait most important to employees in the workplace is respect. I think this holds true for leadership in other areas of our lives as well. Everyone wants and deserves to be treated with respect!

Manage yourself and your emotions.

If you can’t manage yourself, you aren’t going to be able to effectively lead anyone else. You need to be able to maintain your composure and self-control when things get difficult or stressful.

Demonstrate integrity.

Integrity connotes a deep commitment to doing the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances. This involves being honest, keeping confidences, and doing what you say you will do.

Trust and empower others.

Extend trust to others and empower them to make decisions and do their jobs. No one enjoys being micro-managed. And guess what? This can even apply to parenting.

Show humility.

Showing humility is a very important leadership trait. Contrary to popular belief, humility is not the same thing as showing weakness. Humility involves minimizing status differences, seeking input, listening, admitting mistakes, and putting others’ interests before your own.

Lead with love.

You can lead with love by showing others that you care about them by showing empathy, compassion, and creating an environment where they feel safe. Further, leading with love involves regularly demonstrating appreciation and lifting others up.

Be a good coach.

Various workplace studies have found that the best managers are good coaches. This involves providing feedback in a caring and motivational way; listening to others; and guiding them toward decisions. I believe these principles can be beneficial in leading outside of work as well.

Communicate relentlessly.

Communication is critical to leading in any area of life. This involves communicating information thoughts and ideas clearly and frequently; keeping your communication simple, open, and honest; and sharing information freely.

Practice accountability.

This involves being accountable for your own performance and behavior and holding others accountable for theirs. You can do this by setting the example; communicating clear expectations; being fair and consistent; and not showing favoritism.


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