What Makes a Good Leader?

by Nicole Papa; Updated September 26, 2017
Young female college student.

Good leaders develop productive teams, efficient systems and a positive corporate culture. But good leadership doesn't just happen. Good leaders possess positive personal characteristics, such as integrity, dedication, vision, a sense of fairness and creativity. And good leaders know how to inspire the best in others by being good listeners and motivators. Although many leadership qualities are innate, born into a person, other qualities can be learned.

How to Identify a Good Leader

A leader is someone who has influence over a group of people. This can be an executive, a pop star or an employee who has the ability to influence coworkers' thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions. A leader does not necessarily have a specific title. You can tell a leader by his influence over others.

Personal Qualities of a Good Leader

Personality theories of leadership identify five major leadership qualities, called the Big Five: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extroversion, according to Michelle C. Bligh in "Personality Theories of Leadership." However, according to Bligh, more specific research findings indicate that intelligence, self-confidence, determination, sociability and integrity are more consistent characteristics of a good leader.

Good Leaders Relate to People

Good leaders listen, motivate, delegate and provide vision. Leaders can improve listening skills through practice and education. A leader motivates those under her to work hard, and she inspires productivity. Knowing when and to whom to delicate tasks is an important leadership skill, along with providing a vision that is clear and comprehensive.

Good Leaders are Lifetime Learners

Although leaders may be born with qualities that make them effective at influencing others, good leaders are always learning. Good leaders involve themselves in accountability groups, attend leadership conferences and read books that strengthen leadership skills. Good leaders are self-motivated, set personal and professional goals and plan ahead, says Bob Pearce in his article, "Leadership -- What Makes a Good Leader," published on SelfGrowth.com.

Good Leaders Seek Assessment

To improve his leadership skills, a leader can benefit from assessment performed by a professional leadership consultant. Through this type of consultation, a leader's strengths and weaknesses are identified and an action plan is developed to address needs in both personal and professional concerns.

About the Author

Nicole Papa has been a freelance writer since 2004 with a focus on SEO and Internet marketing. She has written for instinctmarketing.com and JOLT! Marketing. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in mass media communications, and from the University of Texas with an associate degree in theater performance.

Photo Credits

  • Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images