Leadership Qualities – The Common Traits of Successful Leaders

Good leaders have certain leadership qualities which allow them to set a good example, gain the trust of their team, empowering them to fulfil their potential, achieve goals, to deliver value and help drive the business forward.

Steve Jobs with leadership quote

So what qualities make a good leader?

The following looks at important qualities that separate good leaders from bad ones, as well as a couple of traits which make a leader stand out from the crowd.


An effective leader has to be confident enough to ensure that others will follow their commands.  Subordinates will not follow a leader if they are unsure of their own decisions and qualities. Good leaders ooze confidence and show assertiveness to gain the respect and trust of their team.

Honesty and Integrity

Two very important ingredients which make a good leader. How can you expect your team to be honest if you lack these qualities yourself? A leader succeeds when they stick to core beliefs and values, without ethics this is not possible. High ethical and moral standards conveys a commitment to fairness, instilling confidence that both they and their employees will honour the rules of the game.

Commitment and Passion

If you want your team to give their all you need to be passionate about it too. When your team sees you getting your hands dirty they will also give it their best shot.  It will help gain respect and inject new energy into team members which helps them to perform better. If your team feel you are not committed or lack passion then it is an uphill struggle for any leader to motivate followers to achieve a goal.

Inspire Others

Probably the most difficult job as a leader is to persuade others to follow. This is only possible if you set a good example to inspire others to go with you. When the going gets tough, the team look to their leader to see how they handle the situation, if it is handled well the team will be motivated to follow. Leaders should think positively and this positive approach would be visible through actions, staying calm under pressure and keeping motivation levels up. If you are able to inspire your team you can overcome any current and future challenge easily.

Good Communicator

Until you clearly communicate your vision to your team and set out the strategy to achieve a goal, it will be very difficult to get the results you want. Words have the power to motivate people and make them do the unthinkable, so using them effectively can achieve better results. When leaders clearly communicate their expectations, they avoid blindsiding people and ensure that everyone is on the same page.  In a safe environment employees can relax invoking the brain’s higher capacity for social engagement, innovation, creativity and ambition.  Leaders who communicate often and openly create a feeling of succeeding and failing together as a pack, building a strong foundation for connection.


Apart from having a futuristic vision, a leader should have the ability to make the right decision at the right time. A leader’s decisions can have a profound impact on the team. A leader should think long and hard before taking a decision, but once taken should stand by it.

Delegation and Empowerment

A good leader cannot do everything, it is important to focus on the key responsibilities while leaving the rest to others, empowering your team and delegating tasks to them. It’s critical to distribute power throughout the organisation and to rely on the decision making from those who are closest to the action. If the team members are micromanaged, they will develop a lack of trust and the leader will not be able to focus on important matters. Delegate tasks to subordinates and see how they perform. Provide them with all the resources and support they need to achieve the objective and give them a chance to bear the responsibility. Empowered teams are more productive and proactive, provide better customer service show higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their team and organisation.


Make sure that every member of the team is accountable for what they are doing.  If they do well, give them adequate praise.  If they struggle make them aware of their mistakes and work together to improve. Holding each team member accountable for their actions will create a sense of responsibility and they will go about their business more seriously. “A good leaders takes little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit” Arnold H Glasgow. Many leaders are reluctant to allow others to make mistakes and fear facing negative consequences from subordinates’ decisions.  Remember giving power up is a great way to build influence.

Creativity and Innovation

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” – Steve Jobs.

For a leader to get ahead in today’s fast-paced world a leader must be creative and innovative at the same time. Creative thinking and constant innovation is what makes you and your team stand out from the crowd. Come up with unique ideas and turn those ideas and goals into reality. Leaders need to be open to new ideas and approaches, provide the safety for trial and error and flexibility to change opinions.  To encourage learning among employees, leaders must first ensure that they are open to learning and changing course themselves.  Relentless pursuit of results can also discourage employees from taking chances.  Leaders must support a culture that supports risk-taking.


A leader should develop empathy with their team, understanding their problems and feeling their pain is an important step to being an effective leader, providing a suitable solution to their problems. We are a social species we want to connect and feel a sense of belonging, a sense of connection impacts on productivity and emotional well-being.

John Wooden powerful leadership quote

To become a good leader you will have to set a good example for others to follow, through your commitment, passion, empathy, honesty and integrity.

Good communication skills and decision-making capabilities also play an important role in the success of a leader. Finally, innovation and creative thinking, as well as futuristic vision, are key traits which make a good leader stand out.

Good leaders must be committed to nurturing growth and training, employees are motivated to reciprocate, expressing their gratitude or loyalty by going the extra mile.  If you want to inspire the best from your team, advocate for them, support their training and promotion, and sponsor their important projects.

Strengthen your own leadership skills

If you would like to strengthen your own skills, our leadership training courses for IT professionals provides you with the ideal opportunity, also available online.

Over 5 days, you work together with other senior IT professionals to hone your understanding and develop a robust knowledge-base. Delegates tell us that this creates the perfect springboard for their career progression.

ILM Level 5 Leadership and management blended course also available, apprenticeship levy funded.

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