10 Characteristics of Effective Leaders
Updated: Sep 26
While it’s commonly argued whether great leaders are born or made, there’s little doubt that great leaders share several characteristics. Leadership skills are among the most important to develop if you wish to advance your career. You’ll find that you already possess some of these qualities and likely need to develop the others.
Here are 10 qualities that highly effective leaders have in common:
1. They lead by example
Effective leaders know that they can get the best out of others by setting a good example. If you want your followers to be committed, positive, passionate, and involved, demonstrate those characteristics each day. What are you currently communicating to others by the example you set?
2. They take accountability
Lousy leaders look to shift the blame when things start to go wrong. A great leader, however, knows that setbacks occur. They also know that if failure occurs, it was poor planning, vision, effort, or leadership that resulted in the poor results.
A great leader accepts responsibility for the outcome, both positive and negative.
3. They have a vision
To lead effectively, a leader must know where they're headed. After all, you have to lead to a specific destination. Do you have a vision for the future and can you communicate that vision to others? Is your vision clear and easy to understand? Is your vision focused? Do you know where you’re going?
4. They plan
You might know where you’re going, but do you know how to get there? Can you effectively share that plan with the members of your team? Is your plan believable and achievable?
5. They communicate well
The ability to share your vision and your plan are paramount to success. Effective leaders are excellent communicators and work to enhance their communication skills further.
6. They motivate and are motivated
It’s been said that one skill needed by great leaders is the ability to inflict pain on team members and get away with it. Impressive future results require sacrifice and discomfort in the present. Are you able to inspire people enough that they’ll continue to follow you instead of revolting against you?
7. They know how to develop others
It’s important to develop others to become better leaders. A great leader takes the time to develop the skills of their followers. The more capable your followers, the more impressive the results you’ll ultimately attain.
8. They inspire confidence in others
If people don’t believe you’ll be successful, you won’t receive their best efforts.
9. They have integrity
Team members have to believe and trust in their leader. Can your team believe what you say? Do your team members trust that you’re fully committed to the project and to them? Without integrity, no one will trust you enough to commit and engage with your plans.
10. They deal with chaos
Chaos is inevitable when working on big projects with a lot of people. Things often go wrong. Team members have personal issues. There’s always someone disgruntled. Plans change. The objective can change.
A great leader knows how to calmly and purposefully deal with the unexpected and guide others through the resulting distractions
How many of these 10 characteristics do you possess? Are you willing to develop those qualities that you lack? Effective leaders have several qualities in common that you can learn and apply to enhance your leadership skills. Review these qualities and look for ways to further develop your leadership abilities.