5 Leadership Qualities and Characteristics

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘leadership’? What picture do you paint up in your head?

As a leader, you are open to people of diverse ways, age groups, languages, and race. How do you lead?

I believe a lot of people fixate on the title rather than the position.

Leadership is service; it’s putting people first. It’s being purely human and as humans, we are bound to make mistakes. However, we cannot all be leaders. Some argue that leaders are born, others say they are made.

Although leadership is service, the question is, can you serve?

There are numerous qualities and characteristics evident in a leader, some of which are highlighted below:

1. Ability to Influence

Leadership is about people, it’s not about YOU. You are to lead, not to boss.

To serve anyone, you must have an influence on them, no matter how infinitesimal it might be. They should be able to trust you. Being a leader is not about the title or position, it’s YOU.

Leadership is a position; the leader makes it. What makes a leader is the innate character to service.

You might hold a title but in true sense, not live up to it. Technically, being in a high position does not make you a great leader. You cannot give what you do not have.

People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.

John Maxwell

Leadership is influence. Influencing others requires building trust, how do you achieve that? Serve them totally.

2. Transparency

This is a pivotal leverage used to build trust. As a leader, be open about team goals and challenges.

Create an enabling environment that makes the team members understand their roles and individual contributions to the team’s overall success. This act creates a sense of value and purpose which translates into higher levels of engagement.

However, there are downsides to some things in life. Transparency is intended to promote collaboration, accountability and knowledge but in excess, you could get an opposite effect.

As a leader, learn to balance transparency with privacy and setting boundaries.

3. Be innovative

Creativity is critical to establishing and maintaining your team’s success.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more and become more, you are a leader.

John Quincy Adams

Great leaders know this and make it a habit to encourage risk-taking and invention within their team.

When a leader creates an environment that refuse to discipline failure, team members are more audacious to propose new ideas, because they see that their creativity is valued.

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

Jack Welch

Breakthrough don’t come often when you play it safe, if well noted, failures often become valuable success lessons.

{Read: Skills to Help You Become a Better Team Player}

4. Set standard values

A leader that respects standards showcase an assurance to fairness. He/she lets it known that everyone will honour the rules of the game.

Team members want to be led knowing that their leader will advocate for them, treat them fairly, and ultimately, do what’s right for the team always.

5. Be a decision maker

The goal is to move the team forward, but that won’t happen if you can’t make a decision without wavering. You need to understand that every decision won’t result in success. There will be times you will be met with failure. It’s your duty as a leader to keep your tenacity.

Enduring setbacks while maintaining the ability to show others the way to go forward is a true test of leadership.


To be a great leader, you have to be better. The amount of time you have given to become better will reflect in the ship you are leading.

{Read: 11 Ways to Become an Effective Team Player}


What are you doing to improve your leadership skills?


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