6 Qualities that Make a Great Leader

Whether a new or seasoned leader, great leaders always look for ways to improve. These six qualities help us become inspiring coaches, clear-minded strategists, and self-aware communicators, allowing us to serve our teams better.

The ability to inspire others

Some of the best leaders in my life spoke as confidently about the future as they did about the past. Their vision was crystalized, describing every detail of a future we had not seen. Their passion was contagious, excited about something that had not happened but certainly would.

It's not just about sharing a vision, however. Great leaders can make others feel proud, special, and important to the overall process. In the face of adversity, they will radiate positivity proving themselves more powerful than any negative energy surrounding them. Inspiring others with optimism and sincerity is how successful leaders rally a team toward achieving their goals.

The ability to delegate

When I first became a manager of managers, I was promoted because I consistently beat targets and helped my peers win. It made sense that I continued to add value in my first few months by working hard and finding ways to win. The problem was I was doing so much work it felt like micro-management to my team. They were kind to their new leader but frustrated. I was doing work they could do, even building plans for their own business, which they rightfully interpreted as distrust.

Great leaders understand the importance of delegation. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of team members and assigning responsibilities accordingly empowers others to be accountable for their work and motivates them to exceed expectations.

It also shows we trust our people.

A good rule of thumb is if someone else can do the work, you shouldn't do the work. If you do, you could be taking away their chance to learn and grow. Be a great coach, teach what they need to know, and celebrate their contribution.

Good communication skills

Left on my own, I am an analyst. I use data to make an important decision, connecting what seems to be abstract data points to bring insights to life. It's my favorite. Because of my lean toward what can be counted and proven, it often takes more than an inspirational speech and positive energy for me to connect with my leader.I have been fortunate that many of my leaders have taken the time to show their work and engage my belief in a meaningful way. This ability to flex communication between inspiration and logic is key to building trust in an organization.

Day to day, the best leaders will use clear, concise language that leaves little room for misinterpretation or confusion so that everyone involved understands the task at hand. This is critical because the answer to the question, "does everyone understand?" often inspires nods, but when the meeting is over, people connect to clarify the task and this socialized understanding sometimes leads to unpredictable results.

Emotional intelligence

An often overlooked quality of great leaders is the importance of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is key to understanding how to manage time, people, and resources effectively.

Leaders with high EQ possess a greater self-awareness and insight into others' emotional experiences. This enables them to be adaptable and react in ways that achieve better results.

They also tend to be good communicators as they are attuned to the needs of their teams, leading with empathy rather than pressure. Emotional intelligence is a powerful and essential tool for excellent leadership: with it, you can lead your team or organization in a way that promotes collaboration, trust, and creativity.

A positive attitude

Having a positive attitude is an essential quality of being a great leader. Not to be confused with an ignorant belief that all will be well, a positive attitude is one rooted in determination and grit, finding or forging a path ahead when needed. Positive leaders also dig deep to learn from every loss and celebrate every win.

A positive attitude will keep those you lead in high spirits and ensure they do their best work while feeling inspired. As a leader, it's your job to demonstrate what it means to maintain an upbeat outlook – even in challenging times – so others can follow suit. Developing this as a core leadership skill will be invaluable throughout your career as it will greatly benefit you and your team.


Being a great leader means having the qualities of an inspiring coach, a clear-minded strategist, and a self-aware communicator. Each of these characteristics is integral to an individual’s leadership success and can be developed over time.