Leadership Qualities: Defining the Good and Not-That-Good Leaders


Being a leader, or at least a good one, requires more than just being placed in a position of authority. Instead, to be a good leader, you must have a thorough understanding of the characteristics that separate good leaders from not-that good ones. So, read on as we go through a leadership qualities list that can help you determine what kind of a leader you are and what leadership qualities you need to develop in order to be even better at your role.

What Is Leadership?

Leadership is characterized by influencing, motivating, or encouraging others to agree on and work towards an objective. We can define leadership in many ways since it depends on various factors such as its style, the philosophy on which it is based, the values it follows, and the leader’s perspective. Many dictionaries define leadership as the action of leading a group of people or an organization.

Others have defined leadership as “the ability of a superior to influence the behavior of a subordinate or group and persuade them to follow a particular course of action” (Bernard, 1938), “an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes” (Rost, 1993), and others.

Some general similarities between most leadership definitions include the theories that

  • Leadership involves a shared goal between the leader and their followers.
  • Leadership reflects the power of influencing others.

Some of the most common types of leadership are

  • Autocratic leadership is the type of leadership in which the power lies with the leader, who takes full authority and makes all the decisions without consulting anyone from the group.
  • Democratic leadership is the type of leadership in which the power within the group is decentralized as the leader values the majority’s opinion when making decisions.

Characteristics Of Good Leaders

There is no definite set of skills that an individual must possess to be a good leader. However, some of the most common characteristics found in good and successful leaders include the following:

They are visionary

Vision is a crucial element to achieving something. It gives you purpose and motivates you to work towards your dreams. For leaders, being visionary means having a goal to accomplish within the environment entrusted as leaders and having a clear idea of how they want to achieve it.

Visionary leaders not only provide guidance, but they are upfront, staying focused and leading the journey themselves, with all challenges and opportunities that they face along the way. Visionary leaders always make sure they inspire their team members with their vision in reaching their common goal.

They are motivating

To be a good leader, first of all, you must be self-motivated and also have the power to motivate others to keep up doing the good work. The importance of this leadership characteristic lies in the fact that motivation determines how hard your group will work to achieve the goals you have set for them.

They have emotional intelligence

Being a leader and responsible for your team means that you frequently find yourself in difficult situations or circumstances. Often you must handle specific conflicts or events and deal with the pressure of potential failure. But as a leader who possesses empathy, you can perceive your and other people’s emotions correctly.

Emotional intelligence, which encompasses a variety of critical skills and capabilities, sets apart good leaders from the rest. EI enables leaders to hold and manage their emotions towards things going wrong.

They are responsible and keep others accountable

Good leaders have the discipline to take responsibility for their duties and commit to each task they take on. They think each process through and plan their actions accordingly. In addition, they encourage others to show that same commitment to their obligations by holding each team member accountable for the goals, projects, deadlines, and expected results.

They walk ahead and know the path forward

As the American author, John Maxwell put it very well ‘A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way’ – so, to be a good leader, you must always be one step ahead of everyone else with your plans and goals for the future by always thinking and calculating the potential outcomes you could face.

They train and build new leaders


A good leader will inspire excellence in other people and help promote all the leadership characteristics we have mentioned. From advice to providing direct mentorship, you must show your support to each member in their path towards becoming leaders one day. You must develop a workplace atmosphere that encourages team members to evolve and strive to be successful leaders.

What Not-That-Good Leaders Do Wrong?

Apart from good qualities that make a leader, there are also bad leadership qualities. Below you can find a few things that ‘not that good leaders’ do wrong. Considering this list and avoiding those mistakes will help you be a successful leader and not fall under the group of bad leaders.

They have no vision

A leader without a vision will fail to encourage the rest of the team members to move forward. If you as a leader are unsure of where you see the future of your company or business, you cannot expect your employees to feel motivated or inspired to give their best with their work.

They never applaud a successful worker

There is no ‘I’ in a ‘team.’ Right? Well, not-that-good leaders seem to forget that the company’s success is the outcome of strenuous efforts put from all workers, and they rarely show appreciation for the hard work each member puts into the projects they are assigned.

Failure to show gratefulness, kindness, and humbleness by applauding and saying ‘Well done!’ or ‘Great job!’ to your workers is where you miss the point of making yourself a great and decent leader.

They lack emotional intelligence

Lack of empathy in leaders means they cannot recognize or see when other people are going through hardships or difficult situations and cannot relate emotionally to anything they are going through, be it at the professional or private level.

Refusal to acknowledge they are wrong or to apologize, difficulty in giving credit where credit is due, insulting or belittling team members are only some of the ways some leaders showcase their lack of emotional intelligence. Such a characteristic is a clear sign of a not-that-good leader, which team members most probably do not like and trust.

They are afraid of new leaders


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Unlike good leaders who constantly try to inspire greatness, not-that-good ones fear seeing it in others. If a team member comes up with an excellent new idea, such leaders will most probably dismiss them or, in extreme cases, take credit for it. A not-that-good leader is insecure about their knowledge and abilities in inspiring others, and they showcase it by ignoring any sign of the two in other people.

They don’t invest in capacity building

Not-that-good leaders are rarely interested in capacity-building. They are unconcerned with the fast-changing world we are living in. Therefore they overlook the importance of developing the skills, abilities, and resources for their business to grow, learn and keep up with the latest developments in their respective field.

Benefits of Developing Leadership Skills

Developing leadership qualities and skills can make the difference between a company’s failure or success. The benefits of good leadership can be observed in various results related to your team, the skills you develop, and the knowledge you hone.

You and your team will benefit from it

The whole team will benefit from your leadership skills. Each team member will appreciate you motivating them, interacting with them, keeping them accountable, training, advising, and all the other scenarios we mentioned before. Your success in your role as a leader will make your team members thrive, and consequently, the whole company will flourish as a whole.

You will know how to handle complex matters

Problem-solving is another leadership skill you will benefit from since, as a leader, you constantly have to deal with various hardships. Once you develop your leadership skills, tackling complex matters and finding solutions will be easier, especially since the team will always have your back and help you each step of the way.

You will be self-aware and know others better

From motivation to responsibility, it all starts with you. Being self-aware affects the way you treat and influence others. In addition, by knowing yourself better, you will also increase your ability to relate to others and know them more. Understanding your team members allows you to be more empathetic towards them and contributes to the overall team success.

You will make an impact on others

Being able to influence others as a leader is essential for a thriving organization or company. By developing leadership skills, you will be able to impact your team members positively. As a skilled leader, you will affect how team members operate and contribute to long-term success.

You will lead by example

Developing leadership skills enables you to lead by example. This way, you will be a role model to your team members. Instead of just ‘pushing’ them to do things, you will actually demonstrate it to them. As a result, they will be motivated more and have greater respect for you.

You will nourish self-confidence and confidence in others

Being able to lead a team towards a common goal will affect how you see yourself. Apart from other benefits of developing leadership skills, confidence is one of the most important ones. As a strong leader, you will build self-confidence and mirror that to others. Through the support you show for your team members and the trust you place in them, you will inspire them to have more confidence in themselves.

You will enjoy the respect of others

A good leader is crowned with earned respect from all team members. Good leaders will always make sure team members are generally satisfied with their way of being treated. They sit down with their workers and talk with them, assuring their opinion matters. Exercising good leadership qualities and features we mentioned above, like being responsible, motivating others, or being empathic, make co-workers admire and treat you with respect.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, leadership is related to the power of influence and how it is utilized. Some are born leaders, and others become good ones by following the excellent leadership qualities listed above.

Leadership is more than a position. One might be a manager, team leader, or chief, but they will become great leaders only when they showcase the above qualities.

Remember that it is all about vision, empathy, ability to motivate, inspire, and encourage others to give their very best for the company they are working for and the whole team.

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