What Makes a Good Leader?

As my coaching experience grows and my communication coaching skills improve, I find myself increasingly more working with people in high management positions. The business world is an interesting kind of jungle and the activity of a top manager is quite fascinating to me.

But a person in a top management position is more than a manager. He or she is also a leader. So in my work, the question of what makes a good leader often comes up. I believe there are many traits that make a good leader, but 5 of them are particularly important. Here they are and here’s why they matter so much:

1. Vision

One of the most important roles of a leader is to inspire people. But in order to do this, they need to have a clear vision of what the organization they lead is about, of what exactly and how it seeks to achieve. And this vision must have the power to inspire others.

If you look throughout history at great political, social, religious and business leaders, you’ll frequently discover the presence of such a clear vision in them. Think of the “I have a dream” speech made by Martin Luther King. The ideas conveyed in that speech express the kind of compelling and relevant vision I’m talking about. Whatever field a leader is in, they can have such a vision.

2. Public Speaking Skills

The work of a leader involves a lot of communication, and much of which occurs not one-on-one, but with groups of people. Whether delivering a presentation to a dozen people in an office meeting or speaking to hundreds of people at a conference, a good leader must have good communication skills in general, and great public speaking skills in particular.

Business Talks

Sharp public speaking skills make a brilliant combination with a clear vision, because these skills allow the leader to articulate that vision in a persuasive way.

In their absence, the vision will likely remain just a good idea that few people actually understand or buy into. How it is communicated indeed makes all the difference in the world.

3. Self-Confidence 

As any true leader can attest, being in a leadership position involves a lot of responsibility and pressure. Good leaders work hard, take risks, deal with uncertainty constantly and face unthinkable challenges. Dealing with such situations without losing your sanity takes a lot of emotional strength, and this strength comes from a serious dose of self-confidence.

Good leaders have this solid self-confidence. They trust themselves to make good decisions. At the same time, they can accept that they will make mistakes, because they trust themselves to learn from them and quickly get on the right track. They strongly believe that, one way or another, they will get the job done.

If you wanna learn more about where this kind of powerful self-confidence comes from and how you can develop it, I suggest you check out this special video, in which I’ll show you just that.

4. Empathy 

In big organizations with hundreds or thousands of people, it’s common for a leader at the top of the management structure to lose touch with what’s going on at the bottom of the organization, at the level of the ordinary member or employee, and thus make many faulty decisions, which in time erode the organization.

This is why it’s crucial for a leader to have empathy. Empathy manifests itself in the desire of the leader to stay connected to people at all levels of the organization, and in the ability to understand what these people do and experience. Good leaders know when their people are satisfied or dissatisfied, and they know why. They never lose touch with others and they realize when a change is needed.

5. Integrity 

I define integrity as the alignment between what one thinks, says and does; the alignment between thoughts, words and actions. I believe Integrity is an integral part of what makes a good leader. Good leaders say what they truly think, and they do what they promise.

Because they are honest and they keep their promises, good leaders are trusted and respected by those they lead. People genuinely want to follow them. This makes it much easier for them to have good communication with people, to engage them, and to make things happen. It’s no surprise that integrity is often quoted in the business literature as a key trait of good leaders.

These 5 traits largely represent what I believe makes a good leader. In my experience, few people on the path towards leadership positions have all 5 of them. Fortunately these traits can be developed. They are mostly thinking, emotional and behavioral patterns, which, with practice and the right guidance, can be learned.

So if you wanna be a good leader and you are serious about it, there is nothing to stop you from becoming one. For more help from me in developing the traits of a good leader, I suggest you check out my coaching services and get onboard my free social advice newsletter.