5 Essential Qualities of a Good Leader

qualities of a good leaderWhat makes a good leader? It’s not an easy question to answer. You’ve likely met and worked with numerous leaders over the years, some more impactful than others.

However, while good leaders have a variety of styles and personalities, there are some traits that all great leaders share.

In this article we’ll cover 5 essential qualities of a good leader:

  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Empathy
  • Accountability
  • Gratitude


Do you have the right skills to be a great leader? Uncover all 15 qualities, in How to Be a Great Leader.


1. Communicate frequently.


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that communication is top of the list for essential leadership qualities. Communication can make or break your efforts to connect with your team, manage and coordinate initiatives, and build trust within your organization.

Good leaders communicate with an employee-first lens. They communicate based on the needs and preferences of their team members and seek to listen to and understand the employee experience.

There are countless ways to build a culture of good communication, but good leaders often employ the following strategies:

  • Conduct regular one-on-ones with employees
  • Solicit and provide feedback formally and informally
  • Use multiple communication tools, such as email, chat, project management software, and meetings
  • Avoid gossip
  • Connect work back to the team or organization’s goals, values, or mission
  • Follow up and follow through with action

33% of employees said a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale. Leaders who communicate thoroughly, consistently, and honestly build trust with their teams, increase employee confidence in the organization, and help create an environment where employees thrive.


2. Have a vision for the future.


Vision provides focus, motivation, and direction to move through change and obstacles. What is your purpose? What goal are you trying to reach—as an individual, team, or organization?

Good leaders have a clear vision and are able to articulate the path forward to their team.

Leaders should be able to connect the work on the ground to the bigger picture and provide the why behind everything they do. Leaders who can do this help employees understand and align their work strategically and engage with their work more meaningfully.


3. Show empathy for their employees.


Empathy isn’t just a nice-to-have when it comes to leadership—it’s fundamental to building trust, confidence, and engagement among your team.

Empathy is the ability to perceive and relate to the thoughts and experiences of others. Leaders who operate from a place of empathy, understanding, and compassion establish stronger connections among their employees and improve performance across the board.

Empathetic leadership can take many forms, but there are a few ways you can demonstrate empathy in your day-to-day management:

  • Look for and recognize signs of employee burnout. Burnout is a real cost for businesses, leading to lower productivity and engagement among employees. Empathetic leaders have a skill for recognizing when people are over-stressed or overworked and intervening to prevent it.
  • Show sincere interest in your employees’ personal lives. In other words, good leaders treat their employees as people and recognize their individuality and unique contributions. Get to know your employees on a personal level and show genuine interest in their hobbies, needs, and goals.
  • Support your employees outside of work. Attend events that are important to them,  like birthdays, sporting events, or performances. Showing support for your team outside of work settings demonstrates you care and strengthens your personal connections with your employees.


4. Hold themselves accountable.


Good leaders hold themselves accountable and are always working to improve and progress. They are never satisfied with the status quo. Accountability and continual improvement require a commitment to seeking and acting on feedback, learning from mistakes, and course correcting.

Accountability includes communicating plans, setting expectations, and following up on promised actions. Good leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable so that everyone is on the same page and can rely on one another to get the job done.

When accountability is modeled from the top, everyone improves.

Accountability strengthens culture, inspires excellence, sets expectations, and builds trust—not only in leadership but among the team.


5. Show gratitude.


A grateful leader is a powerful leader. Gratitude breeds positive interactions and connection, increases engagement, and builds resilience

Grateful leaders understand that success is a team effort and they make sure to recognize the work and contributions of their team. This is an important skill when 79% of employees who quit their job cited lack of appreciation as a major factor.

Good leaders make a point of showing gratitude and recognizing the work of their employees by:

  • Complimenting employees daily
  • Celebrating wins
  • Listening to employee feedback and addressing needs
  • Acknowledging employee contributions in private and in public

Leaders who practice gratitude in small and big ways can make a meaningful impact on employee engagement. Good leadership is about more than just managing tasks and tracking performance. Leadership means going ahead and paving the way for your team



Great leaders do that through compassion, gratitude, communication, and a healthy dose of humility and accountability along the way. Learn more about how to be a great leader with our ebook, How to Be a Great Leader: 15 Skills to Work on Right Now.

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Published August 13, 2020 | Written By Kristin Ryba