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6 Essential Qualities of Leadership

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” – Simon Sinek

Leadership is a prized quality.

Without effective leaders, companies would fail, projects would never get off the ground, problems would fester, children would get into all sorts of mischief, relationships would go awry and all sorts of other negative ramifications would likely ensue.

As much as we say leadership is necessary, many of us are reluctant to take on the responsibility. Worse, most of us feel we lack the qualities of a leader. What about you? Are you a leader? Maybe you think you’re just an employee and that you don’t have what it takes to lead.

You might be wrong. Here are some of the essential qualities of a good leader, giving some much-needed insight into what leadership is.

A leader possesses a powerful desire to do something

If you want to help your co-workers, a family member or loved one, a close friend, or even a stranger to figure out how to solve a problem, work through an issue, strategize a doable approach to a task or project, you have what’s key to being a leader.

There’s more to leadership than that, of course, but it is an excellent start. Here are some other qualities of leadership to keep in mind that can help you be more effective in your dealings with others and in achieving your own personal and professional goals:

A leader encourages, not discourages others

What’s more inspiring and motivating that you hear from your boss or someone in authority? Is it harsh criticism, always finding fault with your work, expressing disappointment over your efforts? Or, do you respond more favorably to words that encourage, offer suggestions, ask if you need help?

An effective leader strives to choose the right language to motivate, persuade and congratulate others to do their best, to keep going when times get rough, and share what works with others.

A leader leads by example

You wouldn’t expect others to follow your example if the way you conduct yourself is less than honorable. If you are untrustworthy, that doesn’t inspire trust. If you are cruel or lack empathy, those who report to you or look to you as an authority figure won’t find you admirable.

On the other hand, a leader who does what he or she says and tells the truth is someone who deserves respect. Showing kindness and understanding toward others similarly gains the attention of those who look to you for direction.

A leader isn’t afraid to share strategies and tips

Leaders have found the answers to difficult problems, solutions to complex or complicated issues, and how to get results. The most effective leaders are the ones who are also the most willing to share their knowledge in the form of strategies and tips.

Whether it’s a one-on-one conversation, a company-wide speech, letter, newsletter, blog, video or phone blast message from the boss, when a leader shares ideas and tips with employees it encourages others to respond in kind.

A leader knows effective leadership is contagious

If you want good things to happen in your company, at home or school or with your neighbors, and you inspire by your own actions, you’ll find that this attitude spreads like a wildfire. Everyone wants to be bitten by the success bug in one form or another.

Good actions can overcome a lot of negatives in the world. Be that leader and help others who encounter you find their own leadership skills begin to flourish.

A leader never gives up

The tendency to feel disheartened when a project fails is nearly universal. Yet an effective leader knows that this is precisely the time when employees, loved ones, family and friends most need encouragement and to be reminded that they’ll get through this together.

There’s strength in community, yet more powerful still is the community with a strong leader to motivate them to continue. While the solution to problems may seem elusive, the difficulties seemingly insurmountable and resources lacking, the leader you want to guide you offers hope and a commitment to stand by you and with you to completion.

6 Essential Qualities of Leadership

Suzanne Kane

Suzanne Kane is a Los Angeles-based writer, blogger and editor. Passionate about helping others live a vibrant and purposeful life, she writes daily for her website, She is a regular contributor to Psych Central. You can reach her at

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APA Reference
Kane, S. (2018). 6 Essential Qualities of Leadership. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 28 May 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.