Leadership Blog

What Makes a Great Leader?

5 Qualities of a Great Leader

May 14, 20244 min read

When you think of leadership, what comes to mind?

For some, it means someone who takes charge. He or she calls the shots.

Leadership is frequently associated with authority. While authority and leadership go together, they are not synonymous. 

Being a leader means you guide or direct others. Obviously, you can do so in many ways. More important than methodology are the qualities of leadership.

Below are 5 leadership qualities that help you become a great leader!

Decorative LineGreat leaders are not about themselves

Almost everyone has experienced someone in leadership who is self-promoting. Such an attitude creates a distaste for leadership. A self-promoting leader acts as if the world revolves around that person. Everyone else doesn’t really matter. Great leaders are never just about themselves.

Great leaders use their authority to support others. They use authority to make the jobs of others easier, better, and more productive. You can change a procedure or purchase some needed equipment to enable your workers to do a better job. Who wouldn’t want to work for a leader who constantly seeks to improve the lives of his employees?

Take a moment and ask yourself if your employees know you have their best interest in mind. Are you more concerned about the company or about them? Do you use your authority to help them or control them? Your answer to these questions reveals a great deal about the quality of your leadership.

Great leaders focus on their followers

The most valuable part of any organization is its personnel. It’s getting harder to get and keep good people. As a leader, you can do something about that. I see many leaders giving people reasons to leave their organization.  They should give people numerous reasons to stay. 

Great leaders develop people. They give deep thought to the contributions of their employees and seek to grow people and demonstrate appreciation to them.

No one is a perfect employee, but your efforts as a leader can help workers become better employees. If people like you and feel you value and appreciate them, they will work harder for you and want to stay with the organization.

Take a few moments to think about how you feel towards your employees and how they feel towards you. Minor changes in this area can produce tremendous results.

Great leaders are learners

Sometimes leaders feel they should know everything. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are better, smarter, or even more capable than everyone else.  You simply have a different role than others. 

It’s always encouraging to see leaders seeking the input and insight of employees. Employees who work “in the trenches” often observe things that the leader may never notice.

Great leaders provide opportunities for employees to “teach” them. They are always growing and never too important to learn from others.

Great leaders develop great followers

A mark of great leadership is the development of great followers. Some leaders seek to limit the growth of their employees. They don’t want their workers to surpass their abilities. Great leaders delight in developing people who exceed their abilities and provide substantial contributions to the organization. 

Think back over your leadership. Can you name people who have grown in their abilities and risen to leadership ranks because of you? 

Discovering a long list of followers who have developed under your leadership is a clear mark that you are a great leader.

Great leaders recognize when it is time to step aside

Some leaders do not recognize when their time is done. Very likely, you have observed a leader who stayed too long. He no longer has the drive, desire, or passion for his role, and he has shifted into “maintenance mode.” 

There comes a time in every leader’s life when he should move on. Moving on may be to retirement or a new challenge. Great leaders never embrace the luxury of becoming comfortable or passive. They always strive to be active, vibrant, and growing. 

Stepping aside at the appropriate time doesn’t diminish your value, it increases it. It says you are more about the organization than yourself. It provides opportunities for “fresh blood” to take the reins of the organization and move it to greater heights. 

Great leaders anticipate “passing the baton.” They develop others to step into their roles of leadership so that growth continues. Don’t make the mistake of holding on too long. There are fewer things sadder than seeing someone work most of his life to build something and then dismantle it as he ages.

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Great leadership is not accidental. It is something a leader cultivates and practices. Great leadership is rare these days but doesn't have to be. Develop these 5 qualities to become a great leader!

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