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The Characteristics of a Great Leader

There have been some incredible leaders throughout history who have stood the test of time and wowed the world with their impressive leadership qualities. Being a good leader isn’t easy. Leaders spend most of their time in the limelight and, therefore, many of their actions and decisions are closely scrutinised by others.
The best leaders exhibit qualities that make them hugely respected and successful. Their leadership qualities are what shine through during the worst of times, uniting people towards a single cause and building others up. It is qualities like these that employees respect. Here are the top characteristics that, in my opinion, make a great leader.


There is nothing more inspirational than seeing someone who is passionate about what they do. The best leaders exhibit an excitement, energy and passion for what they do. Passionate leaders are excited about the future and great motivators who help encourage others by giving them a feeling of purpose and meaning. A passionate leader is a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure!


A sign of a good leader is decisiveness. Once they have made up their mind, there’s no going back. They don’t hesitate to completely commit. Great leaders show consistency in their decisions. They don’t back out or change their minds last minute. They make a decision and that’s it. Being decisive is a great leadership quality as it shows commitment and reliability, both characteristics that encourage the trust of others.


While confidence is a great leadership trait and one that often inspires confidence in others, there is nothing like a characteristic of humility that makes a lovable persona. Great leaders humble themselves by admitting when they are wrong, apologising (even when it’s difficult), and taking criticism as an opportunity for growth. Leaders must be able to talk with those around them, learning from the suggestions of others. It can be extremely difficult taking criticism on board but, if you can learn from it, you can become an incredible leader.


A great leader must be flexible. We all know that not everything goes to plan, especially in business! Plans can change, new regulations can be added, strikes stop the flow of products and so much more. When times are temperamental and stability is fluctuating, leaders must be flexible. A great leader must be able to change course at any given moment, to help their business survive and then to find a new way to reach their goals. Flexibility is not an inconvenience, it is a chance for growth.


One of the toughest characteristics of a great leader is that of responsibility. Taking responsibility is tough and many people avoid doing it at all costs. However, a leader of a business must realise that if there is blame to be accepted, they lead the company and should, therefore, be the first to offer their hand in apology.


Transparency builds trust. If you are connected to your team and genuinely interested in their participation and welfare, people will be keen to work hard for you. As humans, we are naturally drawn to people who are transparent and show an interest in us. We are naturally drawn to leaders who evoke this quality because it fosters trust and is appealing in a raw, human sort of way. Transparency is an integral leadership characteristic that can attract more people and make a dramatic impact on a business. Check out my article on ‘How Transparency Changes Business’ for more information.


Great leaders understand that we are all flawed human beings and, occasionally, we have our bad days. Leaders who recognise this and understand that they are employing people with personal lives, feelings and opinions, will encourage a huge amount of loyalty and engagement from employers who feel cared for and, as a result, are motivated to increase productivity.

Final Words 

Leadership means something different to everyone, but the above characteristics are universally attractive and trustworthy signs of great leaders. They are the characteristics that have lead our country through some of the hardest and best times.
They are also the characteristics of great leaders in professional industries who are leading buildings full of people onto the next stage in their career. The universal truth, ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’ has never been more relevant than when a person steps into leadership.
I hope you have found this article interesting and that you can spot some of the above characteristics in your boss at work – we certainly can in ours! Let me know in the comments below of any characteristics you think I should add to this list.