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Blog Insight & Commentary

The Qualities That Make a Good Leader…and Those That Don’t

Leadership qualities that lift all boats

woman in a leadership role

By Megan Hageman and Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza

We’re in need of good leaders.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that the number-one reason employees quit their job was due to a bad boss or immediate supervisor. Bad bosses can make a workplace unbearable, but when a good leader is involved, employees are more likely to stick with a job, even despite a lack of pay increases.

The good news is…

Good leaders can exist at all levels, whether it’s the CEO or the intern just learning the ropes. Leadership is about modeling positive behavior that brings everyone along.

So no matter where you are in the organization, you can be the leader to those around you.

Read more: Why a Personal Leadership Philosophy Is Important (Even if You're Not the Boss)

Qualities of a good leader

Respect for everyone, regardless of position

Good leader are professional. Good leaders extend the same respect to everyone, regardless of where they sit in an organization. There’s no difference in how you treat the CEO or the new call center employee.

Valuing others’ opinions

But a good leader is not a dictator.

People who find the most success in leadership roles take others into consideration when making decisions and ask for contributing opinions. Good leaders even welcome opinions of those who are likely to disagree with them.

Decisiveness

With many potential views and opinions also comes the need for decisiveness. Effective leaders must be able to take the information they are given and make the best choice for the organization.

Communication skills

Good leaders openly share information and encourage open conversation in return. Good leaders in management positions clearly communicate expectations and responsibilities of each individual and make themselves available for questions.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, express, and control one’s emotions. This competency is a powerful tool to connect with others and bring them along.

Great leaders are cognizant of body language. They consider their own body language and that of the person they’re speaking to when taking the temperature of the conversation.

Read More: Emotionally Intelligent Leaders are the New CEOs

Ability to delegate

This is a leadership quality especially important to those in management roles. Delegation is a skill that enables successful leaders to make the most of their time.

Employees should be able to trust their leader, and micromanagement works only to stifle innovation, creating a culture of people waiting to be told what to do instead of developing independently. So learn to let go

Responsibility

It’s easy to take responsibility when things go well. A good leader also takes responsibility when things don’t go so well.

A smart leader will be the first to admit they’re wrong and do what is necessary to make amends and learn from the mistake.

Doing this openly and humbly makes it safe for others to fail—which makes it that much safer to aim high.

The ability to take a break

Many people associate good leadership with constant hard work, but the best leaders know when it's time to take a step back.

Take lunch breaks, use your PTO, leave early to make it to your child’s soccer game. Model this behavior for those around you to help normalize taking time away from work.

This is especially important for those who manage people. By taking time away from work, you set the example for those who work under you. If they never see the boss taking a break, they won’t feel that it’s safe for them to.

Read more: 4 Signs Your Work-Life Balance Isn’t Really Working for You

Consistency

Consistency builds trust, and so much of consistency is simply follow-through.

Show up. Make ambitious but realistic commitments. When you say you will do something, deliver.

Good leaders do not

Assign blame to other people or events when things go wrong, instead of taking responsibility or finding a solution.

Stick only to their comfort zone. While it’s important to be consistent, bad leaders stay in their comfort zone, which hinders growth, development, and creativity in a company.

Forget to learn along the way. Bad managers think they already know it all. They ignore others’ opinions, they turn a blind eye to data.

Leave others behind. Bad leaders need all the credit, all the promotion. They fail to give qualified team members the tools they need to grow, learn, and move up.

Work alone. Good leaders understand that they’re not the only ones responsible for their success.

Women in Leadership
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