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Whether their leadership is good or inadequate, leaders have a significant impact on our lives. But the attributes of good leaders are fairly common.


In every context of life, from business and politics, to community and family, we all need and look for leadership. The leaders role is a vital one.

Throughout history we’ve seen the impact of leadership in all its guises. From Adolf Hitler through to Nelson Mandela, it’s clear that leaders – good or bad – can leave a long and lasting impression on individuals and nations.

In this post I’ll share seven of the attributes of good leaders that I’ve observed over the years.

Though not conclusive, this list gives insight into some of the common traits shared by effective leaders.

#1. Good leaders look after themselves first

This may sound selfish, but its necessary and true.

Carrie Kerpen, co-founder and CEO of Likeable Media, writes candidly about putting herself first in order to lead better at a critical point in her business.

The best leaders give priority to their ongoing personal development and well-being. They stay alert to the warning signs of burnout and take steps to keep on top of their game.

They also understand that as their level of responsibility increases, essential to their effectiveness, and the progress of those around them, is an ongoing commitment to their health and development.

#2. Good leaders are self-aware and know their strengths

Effective leaders know themselves, or are at very least, committed to growing in self-awareness.

They seek to grasp an understanding of their strengths and are able to acknowledge their weaknesses without giving them too much focus.

The best leaders I’ve observed are those who recognise their skill deficits and build team to resource and compensate for them. Good leaders draw upon the strengths and help of others and are highly effective delegators.

#3. Good leaders communicate vision

Whilst managers focus on the components of day to day tasks and organisation, resources, processes and problem solving required towards an end goal, key to a leader’s role is the steering of the ship.

A leader is primarily concerned with shaping culture, anticipating change, winning people, and communicating vision.

Successful leaders are those effective in seeing, communicating, and motivating others towards reaching a vision.

#4. Good leaders manage conflict

Strong leaders address conflict. However uncomfortable, effective leaders do not shy away from managing conflict that is potentially detrimental to the vision of the team.

Good leaders develop a willingness to deal with differences, and in doing so they provide security for their team.

#5. Good leaders promote a relational culture

Effective leaders promote and model healthy relationships — their ability to relate to others is integral to their success in building and maintaining a loyal following.

Good leaders recognise the importance of their role in shaping a relational culture that is genuinely inclusive.

#6.Good leaders develop healthy habits

Leaders most proficient in what they do are generally those who have developed good routines.

It was Aristotle who said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

John Bossong, in his post, 3 habits for leadership success, points out that key to a good leaders success is the formation of healthy habits.

With a focus on intentional daily habits or rituals — ranging from exercise, reading, scheduled thinking time, and spending time with family — good leaders are by in large creatures of good habits.

#7.Good leaders are honest

Regardless of your ethical stance, honesty remains one of the key attributes for effective leadership. Leadership Professor, John Kotter says,

“We want the truth from our leaders. But we have become cynics, accustomed to twisted messages from politicians and company marketing communications so wordsmithed that they lack meaning.”

Good leaders know this and recognise that honesty facilitates balanced assessment of self, others, and of situations.

By maintaining a balanced and unbiased perspective, good leaders gain trust and credibility that enables them to encourage growth in individuals and their organisations.

Other attributes of good leaders

There are of course other attributes that contribute to good leadership. The seven covered in this post are a snippet of what characterises good leaders in a variety of contexts.

Your thoughts

What do you think are the marks of good leaders? Which attributes of good leaders you’ve observed would you add to the list? Share your thoughts and comments below!

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