Top Qualities of a Great Leader

Most leaders are not necessarily born with great leadership skills. Leadership skills can be learned. But what are the top qualities that people want to see in an effective leader? Surveys of people around the world have been conducted, and these are the most frequent qualities identified.

Respect.  If a leader does not demonstrate respect, problems will quickly follow. A leader’s behavior when interacting with their own team is of course closely observed, but their interactions with others, such as their superiors, customers, vendors, and peers is also an indication of the type of person they are. A great leader demonstrates respect for others, regardless of their position or rank. Demonstrating consistency in showing respect for others will lead to developing strong and trustful relationships.   

Professional Courage.  A great leader stands up for their team. When goals are not met, or mistakes are made, a great leader takes responsibility. If working conditions are unsafe, or unfair, a great leader demonstrates professional courage by taking action to get the situation rectified, even if that puts the leader into an unpopular position with their superiors or peers. A great leader has the courage to speak up about policies or procedures that need to be challenged.

Success Record.  Even if you don’t already have a title that puts you into a leadership position, you have already accomplished things in your past that demonstrate leadership abilities. Reflect on those situations you faced in your past. What were the circumstances? What actions did you take? How did your actions make a difference? What was the outcome? These examples could be from a prior job, a group you are a member of, or even a personal event that happened with your friends or family. Everyone has a proven track record. Leadership takes many forms, in many different situations, not just in your workplace.

Loyalty. Loyalty cannot be demanded. You must earn loyalty. The best way to get something that you want is to give it to someone else. Show loyalty to your employer, to your supervisor, to your peers, customers, and most importantly, to your own team.

Add Value. Adding value is much more than giving your employees a paycheck.  Great leaders add value to their team by acknowledging their work, giving constructive and helpful feedback,  giving opportunities to grow and develop their skills. Adding value is when a leader gives employees the opportunity to learn something that extends beyond just their job description. This shows a true interest in the employee as a person. When given opportunities to increase and improve their skills, it creates an environment where they can flourish.  

Honesty. This quality was the most frequently identified quality in all of the surveys. Honesty truly is the best policy.  A great leader is able to tell it like it is. They say what they mean, and mean what they say. If you have ever worked for someone who wasn’t honest, you know how disturbing and unsettling that experience is. It is not always easy to be completely honest. It can be uncomfortable. But those few moments of discomfort are so small compared to the future problems you will have to face if you choose to be less than truthful.

So which of these qualities to you feel you already demonstrate regularly? Which ones do you need to work on? If you’re not sure, you can ask someone’s opinion you trust. Or, better yet, hire a coach. A coach will give you feedback on you and your behaviors to help you become the best leader you can be.

You don’t need a title to be a leader. Wherever you are right now in your job, career, or in your business, you can demonstrate leadership qualities.

Retail Level Up provides coaching, training, and consulting services to individuals and teams. Visit to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.

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