The Qualities & Characteristics of an Exemplary Leader

by Angela Barley; Updated September 26, 2017
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Exemplary leadership is a hard ideal to live up to because of the responsibilities of the leadership role and the pressures that come with it; however, successful leaders appear to have a number of skills and characteristics in common. Some people appear to possess these qualities innately, hence the term ‘born leader,’ while others have had to work hard to develop them.

Confidence

Great leaders are looked upon by the people they lead as figures of trust and reliability. A good leader must possess and display confidence in order to reassure and inspire those below him. It is imperative to look knowledgeable and competent and appear unperturbed by the trials that will arise. You cannot expect to inspire confidence in others if you yourself are hesitant and unsure.

Character

A leader’s character must be exemplary; otherwise his credibility is undermined and he will lose respect from those who are supposed to follow. Character can be defined as possessing and manifestly displaying virtues such as trustworthiness, honesty, kindness, generosity and fairness. You must lead by example, and if your example is poor it will reflect on the organization.

Intelligence

A leader lacking intelligence is hard to respect, both for those he leads and for the world in general. He needs to be able to act with wisdom and make decisions that are beneficial to the organization and those within it. Without intelligence he is incapable of attaining excellence either personally or for the organization he leads.

Passion

An exemplary leader feels and displays passion and enthusiasm for the role and the general purpose to which his leadership is directed, whether he is a general defeating an enemy or a business leader getting the best work performance out of his team members. Great leadership is not only about technical ability and competence but also about emotion. Human beings are emotional creatures at heart and react to emotional appeals and influences. If you are passionate about the task before you, you are more likely to be able to generate positive emotional responses in your constituency.

About the Author

Angela Barley started writing professionally in 2008. Her work has appeared in U.K. newspapers such as "The Evening Standard," "The Independent" and "The Times." Barley holds a Master of Arts in journalism from Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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