Qualities Of A Great Leader – The 6 Most Outstanding

What are the qualities of a great leader? There are probably just as many arguments about the definition of a leader, what is leadership and what we are about to discuss.

When we ask about the qualities a great leader should possess, we must also take into consideration the situation and context. Hence, trying to pinpoint these qualities are highly difficult.

When you take into consideration the personalities of the leaders and followers involved and the goals achieved, qualities that defines a great leader becomes even more difficult to define.

However, let’s attempt at a list on qualities of a great leader.

1. Discipline and Determination
First and foremost, a great leader has a solid discipline and determination to see what they strive for will come true. A great leader has a fierce resolve on achieving goals and is very persistent in forging forward. He is not afraid of hard work and the challenges that presents before him.

2. Integrity
A great leader gains trust and respect from his people through integrity and doing the right things by his people. He is principled and honest. Through his sincerity of saying what he means and meaning what he says, people know they can trust him and hence support him to achieve the collective goal of the group.

3. Set And Pursue Goals
Whether you call it a vision, objective or a goal, a great leader sets a clear objective for the team. He is action oriented, so you will find him doing the necessary things in order to achieve those goals. He is able to translate vision to reality and take action on the plan.

4. Manage Change Well
A great leader not only manages change well, he is an agent of change himself when the need arises. He is able to affect change, prepare and manage the stress that the team has to go through during times of change. He understands the implications of change well and hence is prepared to face the results that change may bring.

5. Not Afraid To Take Risk
Because of his comfort with change a great leader is comfortable with ambiguity. He is able to take calculated risks and bear the consequences of the decisions he makes without making a big deal of it. He knows taking risks can create opportunities. This appetite for risk is sometimes seen as boldness in great leaders.

6. Inspire Others Towards A Common Goal
Importantly, a great leader can inspire people. They are very good at communication and can affect people to be motivated enough to act upon collective plans that achieve greater goals. A great leader is also able to inspire people to be the best that they can be, to self-actualize. He is able to bring out the best in people.

7.Great Emotional Intelligence
Perhaps, one of the most important on my list of qualities of a great leader is a great leader has great emotional intelligence. In Daniel Goleman’s work, “What Makes a Leader?” he says that emotional intelligence is the sine quo non of leadership.

A great leader has strong self awareness – realistic self-assessment is a hallmark, self regulation – trustworthiness and integrity is a hallmark and a strong desire to achieve beyond just money. Besides that, a great leader also does well in the other two factors that makes up emotional intelligence. They can empathize well and have excellent social skills to manage relationship.

This is my list of the qualities of a great leader. It is not as cumulatively exhaustive and mutually exclusive as I would like it to be, so this is work in progress. Perhaps it will give you some areas that you can begin to explore the qualities of a great leader.


Here are my recommended books and articles on leadership


Harvard Business Review on Leadership (Harvard Business Review Paperback Series) has a good collection of classic articles on leadership and its challenges. It includes classics like What Leaders Really Do (John P. Kotter), Managers and Leaders: Are They Different? (Abraham Zaleznik) and The Work of Leadership (Ronald A. Heifetz and Donald L. Laurie).



Harvard Business Review on Breakthrough Leadership contains important work on leadership like - Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance from Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee.



Lastly, Harvard Business Review on What Makes a Leader has an excellent collection of articles that includes What Makes a Leader (Daniel Goleman), Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons (Michael Maccoby) and Why Should Anyone Be Led By You (Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones).

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