Fri. Dec 1st, 2023


10 Qualities of a Good Leader

What is Leadership and Leader?

Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. In a business setting, this can mean directing workers and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company’s needs.

Simple explorations of the question, “what is a leader?” include:

  1. A leader is someone who inspires passion and motivation in followers.
  2. A leader is someone with a vision and the path to realizing it.
  3. A leader is someone who ensures their team has support and tools to achieve their goals.

A leader may be any of those things, but a good leader is all three. 

An effective leader has a shared vision aligned with core values and understands what it will take to reach their team goals. They inspire, manage, and support their teams to work creatively and confidently toward that shared vision.

A leader empowers their team members to embrace their own unique leadership qualities and act with independently accountable passion. And they inspire and motivate their teams to maintain long-term progress and excitement toward achieving their goals.

Qualities of a Good Leader

Good leaders possess self-awareness, garner credibility, focus on relationship-building, have a bias for action, exhibit humility, empower others, stay authentic, present themselves as constant and consistent, become role models and are fully present.

What is a Successful Leader?

Here are 10 qualities of good leaders. They:

1. Possess Self-awareness

One of the most important qualities of a good leader is self-awareness. The leader needs to be constantly aware of how they are acting, what they are saying and what message their nonverbal communication is sending. Although they may not always realize it, team members constantly observe leaders and model their actions and reactions by how they see the leader react.

This is especially important in times of change or extreme stress. Employees will look to the leader for formal and informal guidance on how to react to the change or stress and consciously or unconsciously react in the same way.

Think about how you respond in situations of unexpected change or stress. Is this the way you want to respond?

2. Garner Credibility

Research by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner suggests that credibility, or the ability to be trusted, is one of the most important characteristics of a good leader. Leaders gain credibility and team members’ trust by doing what they say they will do, holding themselves accountable for their words and actions, and putting the needs of the team before their own.

Gallup reports that employees who don’t trust their leaders are more likely to leave the organization than those at organizations with a high trust culture, making credibility one of the most important qualities of a good leader. When leaders are not credible, team members are not likely to trust them.

How can you demonstrate to your team that you are credible? How do you earn their trust?

3. Focus on Relationship Building

Early management researchers assumed that the most important element of the workplace was the work itself. They conducted studies and developed systems meant to increase employee productivity but did little to address the human elements of employees. Contemporary leadership theories take a more holistic approach to the workplace and include the human elements of employees, including their need to form relationships with team members.

As human beings, employees are not able to bring only the part of them that does the work to their organizations. They bring their entire selves which is why leaders need to be excellent relationship builders in all areas of the organization.

Think about your current workplace relationships. Who else can you connect with?

4. Have a Bias for Action

There are some leaders who talk a good game but never do anything other than talk. Good leaders are those who talk about what needs to happen and then do something about it or have a bias for action.

Leaders with a bias for action do not freeze in times of uncertainty or when a decision needs to be made. They courageously decide and act and hold themselves accountable for their decisions and actions. Someone has to take the first step, and these leaders are the ones taking it.

Do difficult situations or decisions cause you to freeze, or are you an action-taker?

5. Exhibit Humility

Humility is a word that is easily misunderstood. Individuals who have humility tend to not be overly proud of their work and accomplishments and do not believe they are better than others. In other words, humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less and of others more.

Humble leaders are not likely to take credit for others’ work. They put the needs of the team before their own, and they are strong advocates for what their team members need. By focusing more on others than themselves, humble leaders gain the trust of followers and help them develop and grow beyond what they may have thought possible.

How much attention are you giving to the needs and accomplishments of others?

6. Empower the Team

A leader who empowers others unleashes their ability to act on behalf of their area of work or expertise and provides them with an opportunity to grow and improve. When a leader empowers a team member, they give them a set of guidelines to work in and then leave them alone to do their work.

For example, you may have had the experience of speaking with the customer service department of a store about a purchase you were unsatisfied with. When the customer service agent can give you a refund or discount on a future purchase without first checking with their manager, they have been empowered in their role.

Who are you empowering, either in or outside of work? Who can make some decisions without checking with you first?

7. Stay Authentic

Authenticity is acting in a way that represents who we truly are rather than trying to act like someone else. Leaders who act authentically show their true selves to their team members, and, over time, team members come to rely on the leader acting in certain ways.

For example, if one of the characteristics of the leader is patience, every time that leader demonstrates patience to team members, they are acting authentically. The more team members see the leader being patient, the more they will come to expect that no matter what they bring to the leader, the leader will respond with patience. Acting authentically is also a great way for leaders to build trust with team members.

Do you speak and act from the core of who you are, or do you try to act like someone else?

8. Present Yourself as Constant and Consistent

Good communication is key in a work environment, yet 18% of employers find their manager’s biggest weakness is being a bad communicator, according to The Predictive Index.

Leaders whose words and actions are similar every time enable the team to not have to wonder or worry about how the leader is going to respond. Like with authenticity, leaders who speak in a constant and consistent way almost become predictable over time. The team comes to rely on the leader’s predictability which builds trust and reduces stress in the workplace.

How well are your teammates, friends and family able to predict your reactions?

9. Become a Role Model for Followers

Although they may not realize it, leaders are constantly being observed by followers. Team members watch to see how the leader responds to messages or events and model their own responses from what they see the leader do.

Good leaders are those who are aware that they are being observed by the team and set an example for them to follow. For example, if leaders respond in support of unexpected changes, over time team members will start to do the same.

Whether or not you are in a formal leadership role, you are likely a leader in some area of your life. What kind of role model are you for observers?

10. Be Fully Present

This one can be tough for leaders since they are often pulled in many directions at the same time. Being present for team members means that the leader is fully focused on what team members are saying, what they are doing and the work itself. Leaders who are not present are those who appear distracted by other things and do not give team members their full attention.

When leaders are present, they demonstrate their value of team members. There is nothing more valuable that leaders can give team members than their time, which can be done by being fully present.

A Leader and Boss

A boss manages their employees, while a leader inspires them to innovate, think creatively, and strive for perfection. Every team has a boss, but what people need is a leader who will help them achieve greatness.

Comparison Chart

MeaningA person who gives orders to employees and behaves in an authoritative way, seeks control and tells his men what to do, is a Boss.A person who influences, inspires, supports and encourages a group of individuals, and works continuously on the achievement of goals is a leader.
Gains respectDue to seniority.Due to the ability and quality of his character.
OrientationProfit orientedPeople oriented
What he does?Administers and dominatesInnovates and collaborates
Driving forceStandardsValues
FocusesOn structureOn vision
WorkKnows how work is done.Shows how work is done.
DelegatesTasks and ResponsibilitiesAuthority
What to do?Likes to tell employees.Prefers to teach employees.
MistakePlaces blame, shows who is wrong.Fixes it, shows what is wrong.

Definition of Boss

A boss refers to an individual who is in charge of the employee or an organisation. He is someone to whom the workers report, i.e. immediate supervisor of the workforce. He exercises control over employees, orders, assigns tasks and duties to them and is entitled to take decisions on some matters.

In the organisational chart, there is no formal title like ‘boss’, but the term indicates a person who is the owner or appointed as head of the organisation, department, unit or division. Therefore, a boss can be a supervisor, manager, director or any other person working on a higher level.

Definition of Leader

The term leader is defined as an individual who possesses the ability to influence and inspire others, towards the accomplishment of goals. He is someone who holds a dominant position and leads others by example. He is a man with a vision, who stays committed to his goal and strives continuously towards the achieving it. He sets an example, in such a way that people get motivated and follows his footsteps or directions. The qualities of a good leader are:

  • Foresightedness
  • Great communication skills
  • Art of influencing and motivating others
  • Stimulates work
  • Clear goals
  • Appreciate others
  • Sets examples
  • Takes responsibilities
  • Does right things

Key Differences Between Boss and Leader

The significant differences between boss and leader are discussed in the following points:

  1. Boss is a person in charge at the office who gives the order to employees and behaves in an authoritative way, seeks control and tells his men what to do. A leader is a person who leads other by influencing, inspiring, supporting and encouraging a group of individuals, and works continuously on the achievement of the goal.
  2. A boss has employees whereas a leader has followers.
  3. A boss administers and rules by fear while a leader innovates and inspires with trust.
  4. A boss gains respect due to his authority or seniority, but a leader earns respect for himself by his conduct, goodwill and quality of character.
  5. A boss is always profit oriented. Conversely, a leader is people oriented.
  6. A boss exercises control, unlike leader who seeks commitment.
  7. A boss takes decisions on the basis of standards, organization’s norms and rule. As opposed to a leader whose conduct is based on the values.
  8. A boss very well knows how to perform a particular task. On the contrary, a leader shows his followers how to do the task properly.
  9. A boss assigns tasks and delegate responsibilities to his men. However, a leader delegates authorities.
  10. A boss tells employees what to do. On the other hand, a leader teaches employees what to do.
  11. A boss places blame for the breakdown and point out the who is wrong. In contrast to the leader, who fixes the breakdown and identifies what is wrong.

Generally a leader is a person who leads his followers, inspires, motivates and guides them in different matters. On the other hand, a boss is someone who is the owner of the business or is appointed by the owners as an in charge of the workplace. The difference between these two is a matter of psychology, i.e. it’s about the vision through which we see the world. If you are playing the role of a boss, you need to be strict with the employees to get the things done from them or else they will start fooling you.

On the contrary, being a leader you have to be a good listener and influencer first, you have to play a supporting role to boost the morale of the followers time to time.

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By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of

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