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20 Common Traits of Great Leaders

    20 traits of great leaders

    Alexander the Great once said, “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”

    I think this quote perfectly showcases the importance of great leaders in our civilization.

    Throughout history, countless great leaders have played crucial roles in shaping our society and future.

    In almost every area of human endeavor, leaders have forever influenced the speed and direction of progress.

    Today, the world needs more great leaders than ever.

    We need them to lead humanity through some of the biggest challenges we face. If you wish to become a great leader yourself, you need to first develop a whole host of traits within you.

    Only then will you be able to lead yourself and your team to great heights.

    Below, we take a look at 20 of these traits.

    1) Vision

    man giving a speech to an audience

    Great leaders have always had great vision.

    In a way, a vision of the future sets the direction and the tone of one’s pursuit.

    Without this sense of direction, you would just get lost and walk around in circles.

    Great leaders are those who understand what’s going around them and what the future could possibly look like. They then work towards that future and lead their team to it.

    Whether it is a country, a company, or a charitable trust, visionary leaders can truly dictate the course of humanity.

    Just look at what Elon Musk is doing. He has a grand vision for humanity that could actually solve the glaring global problems that we all face.

    2) Active Listening

    When you speak, you say what you already know.

    But when you listen, you get to hear something new.

    Great leaders are those who keep their ears open all the time.

    They listen intently to what their team members have to say in order to understand the meaning behind their words.

    Even when they receive feedback on their own leadership, they remain open and unbiased. As a leader, when you listen actively to your team, they feel like they have been heard. They feel like they are respected and their contributions matter.

    As such, the overall productivity and morale increase.

    3) Courage

    woman feeling confident

    Courage is the ability to keep going despite experiencing fear.

    We all know that challenges or adversity can show up at any time in our lives. And when they do, we can either run away or face them head-on. Great leaders know only one option. And that is to stand strong and weather the storm.

    It is also their courage that helps them take risks.

    Calculated risks can be hugely rewarding in the future.

    Take a look at the most successful companies in the world today. They exist today because, at one point in time, their founders took the risk to go ahead with their dreams.

    4) Communication

    Communication is integral to the human experience.

    It’s only because of this ability of ours that we have come so far in our civilizational journey.

    As a leader, great communication skills can help you explain the vision, formulate a plan, manage expectations, solve challenges, understand your teammates, and so on.

    Basically, communication can help you get everyone on the same page and truly act as a team.

    leadership is not about a title or a designation. It's about impact, influence and inspiration.

    5) Eager To Learn

    When you learn, you grow and become a better version of yourself.

    Essentially, you are able to increase your strengths and address your weaknesses. Also, a person who is eager to learn will always be updated with the times.

    In our constantly changing world, this ability goes a long way in ensuring success.

    Also, if a leader is eager to learn, the followers will want to emulate this trait. They will know firsthand how effective this quality is for surviving and thriving in the world.

    6) Honesty

    a man at a conference

    Honesty is one of the most desirable qualities to have as a human being.

    And if you aim to be a great leader, it becomes even more critical. That’s because as a leader, people look up to you. They want to know that you will lead them to success. And so, they need to trust you.

    If you remain honest and show integrity, your team will find it much easier to support you.

    They will have faith in you as a leader and will be willing to do anything for the cause.

    7) Flexible

    In the real world, things can change at the drop of the hat.

    The plans that you made yesterday, may not even be applicable today.

    As such, flexibility is an important trait to have these days.

    As a leader, you need to be aware of the variables that are in play and make decisions in real-time.

    That way, you can make plans and execute them on the go and lead the team through roadblocks, pitfalls, and dead ends.

    remember the difference between a boos and a leader. a boss says "go!". a leader says "let's go!".

    8) Patience

    Great leaders know that great things take time to materialize.

    Some plans can take even decades to get fulfilled.

    This is why it’s said that patience is a virtue. It helps you keep your emotions in check and do what’s necessary in the present moment.

    When you are able to do this day in and day out, you eventually and invariably reach your destination.

    Also, great leaders know that failures and mistakes are part of the journey. They know that there will be times when nothing gets done. And so, they also know that they have no option but to be patient.

    9) Optimistic

    a woman leading a meeting

    We all know how positivity can literally enhance your chances of success.

    In fact, a positive frame of mind helps you identify possibilities in the first place.

    Also, emotions and feelings can be contagious.

    As a leader, if you are optimistic, you will rub that off on your team.

    If you’re pessimistic, your team will get influenced accordingly.

    Great leaders know that to bring the best out of their team, they need to be working from a positive place. And so, they pay extra attention to spreading optimism across the workplace.

    10) Accountable

    As a leader, you might hold great power and influence.

    However, that doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you like.

    In fact, great leaders consider themselves responsible for their every action.

    If they make a mistake, they swiftly own up to it. Not only that, they take responsibility for the actions of their teammates as well.

    This focus on accountability helps your team trust you. It shows them that you are a responsible person and will never misuse your power.

    a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.

    11) Inspirational

    Human emotions are a fickle thing.

    One day, you might be inspired to take on the world, and the next day, you might not even want to get out of bed. This is where great leaders come in.

    They lead by example and serve as an endless source of inspiration for their team.

    They know that they have to constantly motivate their team so that they can keep making progress towards their goals.

    But, to inspire others, you first need to be inspired yourself. Otherwise, others around you will be able to see through you. Therefore, you also need to find ways to keep yourself inspired day in and day out.

    12) Loyal

    a group following a leader

    A group can function well only when its members are loyal to the leader and the cause.

    However, it’s also important for the leader to be loyal to their team.

    But what does this mean? How can a leader show loyalty to their team members?

    Well, as a great leader, you can provide them with resources to help them grow, you can assist them in any challenges they are facing, you can help them understand their mistakes, and provide opportunities to do better.

    13) Innovative

    a magazine featuring richard branson

    Innovation is the name of the game when it comes to thriving in the modern world.

    As a leader, you need to be creative and come up with new ways of tackling problems and conjuring solutions. You need to be brave enough to throw away old ways of doing things if they are no more relevant.

    Some of the most successful leaders in history were also highly innovative.

    Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and many more leaders share this quality.

    14) Fair And Ethical

    As a leader, you need to understand that you are working with human beings who have their own ambitions, desires, values, and interests.

    The more people you work with, the more diversified these things will get.

    So, you need to be fair and ethical in your approach. You need to do what’s best for the overall team and the mission.

    No matter the situation, you need to do the right thing.

    Yes, this can be hard at times because of how complex human behavior and group dynamics are, but that’s what separates great leaders from regular ones!

    Great leaders don't set out to be a leader. They set out to make a difference. It is not about the role butr about the goal.

    15) Empathy

    Many consider empathy a core leadership trait.

    This is only logical because a lot of the time, leadership is about managing the emotional and mental states of your team.

    As humans, they may have their opinions about projects, the amount of work, the end goal, the plan in motion, and so on.

    If you want to be an effective leader, you need to be empathetic to your team’s feelings and emotions.

    You need to understand that feelings play a huge role in how a person functions. In the end, this might make all the difference.

    16) Focus

    Focus is one of the key ingredients of success for any human being.

    Every successful person in history agree that success is impossible without focus.

    And it totally makes sense if you think about it.

    As a leader, this trait becomes even more important.

    Because, you are not only leading yourself, but you are also leading a whole group. And if you are not focused, you can’t expect them to be either.

    So, you need to establish a framework that will not only keep your eyes on the goal but your team’s as well. They also dedicate time everyday to meditate in order to be more focused and productive.

    17) Passion

    man wearing a suit for a meeting

    Passion is highly contagious.

    I think one of the best examples of this is Steve Jobs.

    We all know how passionate he was about computers and technology in general. It showed in how he talked about his work and the way he ran his company.

    But what’s even more interesting is that his passion rubbed off on his team as well.

    As such, they too gave everything they had to help build one of the most powerful and influential companies in the world.

    18) Delegation

    As a motivated leader, you might be tempted to do everything yourself.

    But that’s not how great missions are fulfilled. You have to learn the art of delegation.

    By doing so, you will assign the right work to the right person. This will make sure that you are using your team to its full potential.

    Delegating will also help ensure that you can focus on the larger picture and divert your attention to where it’s needed most.

    19) Self-Awareness

    Usually, when people talk about self-awareness, they talk about it in a negative light.

    However, self-awareness can be one of the most useful traits of a great leader.

    This is because it helps you understand your own strengths and weaknesses.

    It keeps you from becoming overconfident and it also prevents you from losing self-esteem.

    In a way, it helps you understand the present situation so that you can take steps to reach your desired state. This clarity can be immensely useful while leading a team.

    what you do has far greater impact than what you say.

    20) Tech-Savvy

    Last, but certainly not least, is being tech-savvy.

    There was a time when this wasn’t a necessary trait for a leader. However, in the world that we live in, technology has become integral to human life.

    And you need to have some inclination towards it so that you can stay ahead of the curve.

    Those leaders who are tech-savvy can quickly find solutions to their problems and take advantage of the latest tools to make progress.

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