The Top 7 Leadership Characteristics

A manager demonstrating good leadership characteristics.

At the helm of every great team is a great leader. You may get most of the way to greatness with a high-performing team, but you’ll get further with a strong leadership team. The good news is that effective leadership characteristics can be learned.

The seven most effective characteristics of leadership are:

  1. Self-introspection
  2. Integrity
  3. Agility
  4. Communication
  5. Emotional intelligence
  6. Kindness
  7. Respect

Here is an example of each skill and how to strengthen it.

1. Self-introspection 

Andy graduated at the top of his class and went on to become a startup CEO almost immediately. He’s known as a fast mover and hard to please, especially by the coding team. Every standup meeting, Andy grows more impatient at the rate of their work. Finally, one of the coders takes Andy aside and shows him how many detailed steps are in their work. Andy realizes his impatience is getting in the way of good leadership and readjusts his timelines.

You can increase your self-awareness by:

  • Evaluating your strengths and weaknesses and working on self-improvement.
  • Holding yourself accountable if you fall short of your goals or make mistakes.
  • Journaling, setting intentions, meditating, and completing other mindfulness practices.
  • Being open to critical feedback and making improvements.

2. Integrity

Jennifer is a content producer at a high-profile firm, where her coworkers are creating a culture of gossip and exclusion. Upper management doesn’t seem to be aware, and it would be easy enough for Jennifer to just join in with the group. Jennifer isn’t comfortable with that and demonstrates her integrity by talking to a manager about the culture shift she’s witnessing.

This is one of the most important leadership characteristics because it means leaders will set a good example for the team and make ethical business decisions. You can strengthen your integrity skills by:

  1. Respecting your colleagues.
  2. Sticking to your word.
  3. Speaking up if you see unfairness at work.

3. Problem-solving

Nadine’s independent bookstore has been steadily decreasing in revenue over the years as more customers move their business online. She starts selling books online, but to stand out she knows she’ll need to come up with a new solution. By introducing happy hours for book-loving adults, she creates a new stream of revenue at a low cost and her store gets a partial rebrand.

You can foster this leadership characteristic by:

  • Maintaining a growth mindset.
  • Thinking of new processes and products or services.
  • Staying positive when faced with roadblocks.

4. Communication

Sienna is the head of content at a manufacturing plant where supply chain issues have started causing backorders. The sales team continues selling at a high rate and seems uninterested in hearing about the pileups they’re causing. Sienna brings her notes to the meeting so she can communicate her point of view. She actively listens to their concerns and uses her communication skills to mirror them back to the sales team, resulting in a new project plan that suits all parties.

You can strengthen your communication skills by:

  • Communicating your goals and targets frequently, so everyone knows what they’re working toward.
  • Understanding the nuances of communicating over the phone, via email, and on social media.
  • Remembering that active listening is just as critical as talking.

5. Emotionl Intelligence

Garrison isn’t known for his kindness or his patience, but he always gets the job done as CEO. One of his direct reports will need to leave town for a cousin’s last-minute wedding, right when he needs their work the most. Garrison doesn’t overreact and realizes he needs to be supportive. The worker returns eager to make up for the lost time.

Emotional intelligence is one of the most critical leadership characteristics because it will help you improve your company culture, employee morale, and collaboration. Foster empathy by:

  • Accurately interpreting someone else’s emotions and your own.
  • Practicing active listening.
  • Acknowledging your colleagues’ perspectives.

6. Kindness

Max is busier than usual, having come up against the end of the quarter right after being home sick for an extended period. When an employee calls asking for leniency on a time-sensitive deliverable, Max’s first reaction is to say no. He realizes that by moving some schedules around he can get coverage for everything and offers his employee the benefit of his time management experience.

Actively showcase this leadership characteristic by:

  • Favoring patience and kindness when it comes to training and performance issues.
  • Assuming positive intent in every interaction.
  • Making sure every interaction leads direct reports to feel even more empowered to achieve.

7. Respect

Monica is adjusting to her new role in upper management and feels like everyone is waiting for her to make a mistake. This anxiety interferes with her work as a leader because she can’t focus on her team. Finally, one of her peers reaches out to tell her that she’s doing a great job. He has no idea what he accomplished simply by treating a colleague respectfully.

Treating people with respect is one of the most important leadership characteristics. You can show respect by:

  • Knowing how to help your organization, employees, stakeholders, and customers.
  • Making sure all stakeholders feel heard regarding their concerns and suggestions.
  • Taking employees’ chosen career paths and interests into account when assigning responsibilities.

Put These Leadership Characteristics to Work

These leadership characteristics will make you a better manager and make your team more successful. Continue to strengthen your company with expert management advice from Monster.