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Home / Resources / What Makes a Great Leader?

What Makes a Great Leader?


71% of businesses feel that their leaders are not able to lead their organization into the future. A big part of the issue is a leadership skills gap.

Every day 10,000 Baby Boomers retire from the workplace and a large portion of them are leaving leadership positions. Millennials are now an even larger generation than the Baby Boomers, but Millennials often don’t have the necessary skills to step into leadership positions and be fully effective.

Which all leads to the question, what it is that makes a good leader?

Below we highlight some tips that any leaders or potential leaders NEED to know. Download the list here.

Lead by example

A good leader leads by example; they don’t ask their employees to do anything that they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves. They also set the pace and the standard for the organization, if you can show your employees that you’re willing to put in the extra effort it will set an example that they can follow. 

You are there to serve the team

Not the other way around. An easy mistake for many leaders to make is in thinking that the team they’re leading exists solely to do as they are told. The team is there to perform their respective roles and it’s the leader's job to make sure they have everything they need to do this as effectively as possible.

Build trust and loyalty within their team

Think back on your own life, who are some of the great leaders that you followed? Chances are they were more than likely people that you trusted and as a result were loyal to them. People are much more likely to follow someone who they trust and the more that they trust you, the more loyal they will become.

Know the importance of communication

The importance of communication and conveying a shared goal is vitally important. Everyone has to be pulling the same way and it’s the job of a leader to make sure everyone knows which direction they are all pulling in.

Be a great listener

This, in turn, enables them to be great communicators. The more you listen to your team the better able you are to understand their voice, their personalities and the things that motivate and de-motivate them. Once you understand these things about your team, you’ll be able to effectively communicate with them in a positive, constructive and rewarding manner.

Good leaders know their strengths AND weaknesses

A good leader knows what their strengths are and how to make the most of them, but more importantly, a good leader knows their weaknesses and where they can improve.

Be an avid learner

The average CEO reads about 60 books every year; knowledge is power after all. The more you know, the more you can pass on to your team.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

A good leader knows that it’s futile to even try to get every decision right – they know they will make mistakes and lots of them. People learn much more from their mistakes than their successes and leaders are no different.

Look at other good leaders

Perhaps you already have a leader that you aspire to? Whether that be someone in your personal life or a figure in business, politics or sport. What makes them a good leader? Try to figure it out and replicate it if you can!

Recruiting the best people

The best leaders recruit people who are better (more knowledgable or more skilled) than them into their teams. It goes without saying that any good leader would want the best team possible but many perhaps feel threatened about hiring someone who they feel may be better than themselves. In order to be a good leader though, you have to be selfless and always put the team first.

Don’t micromanage 

No one likes their boss peering over their shoulder, constantly commenting on their work or just generally not allowing them to just get on with the job at hand. A good leader gives their employee space and trusts them to do the job correctly; this shouldn’t be an issue if you make sure that you’re recruiting the best people anyway.

Allow your people to fail

A good leader understands that in order for their team to get it right they’ve got to get it wrong first. It’s a bit of a cliché now but it rings very true, you’ll learn much more from your failures than your successes. So, allow your team to fail so that they can learn how to succeed.

Accept responsibility when things go wrong

And praise the team when things go well. A good leader isn’t looking for praise or a pat on the back for a job well done; they should be the one doing the back-patting and the praising. Furthermore, when things go wrong, a leader who takes responsibility will gain the trust and loyalty of their team.

Celebrate success

Success is what all teams are working toward so when you are successful make sure that your team feels appropriately celebrated for their work. Celebrate small successes as well as big.

Look after others before looking after yourself

A good leader nurtures and protects their talented colleagues and treats everyone with courtesy and respect. This is pretty simple, in essence, it’s all about being a decent human being and making sure that the people who are working for you are as happy as they can be; and if they’re not, how can you make things easier?

Truly delegate, and truly empower

When delegating work make sure it’s been delegated to the right person, whose skill set best fits the task in hand. This will enable your team members to individually feel truly empowered as they’ll be doing the work that they're best at.

Always look for ways to improve the organization

A good leader always aspires to do better; regardless of how successful they have been. Whilst it’s important to recognize success, a leader should always be looking toward the next success and how to achieve it. This extends not just to the team, but also to the leader and how they can improve themselves.

Remove redundant activities or ‘blockers’ to success

Your team will want to run as efficiently as possible, so make sure to get rid of anything that hinders their work or blocks their path to success. Redundant activities and blockers to success can be hugely demotivating to your team.

Take time to think, reflect and contemplate on a daily basis.

A good leader will tend to have a busy mind and lots of things to juggle at once. It's so important to take the time to reflect and contemplate on a daily basis. This way you’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on and how it’s affecting you personally.

Go over and beyond when it comes to reward and recognition

When your team or individual members of the team do a great job it’s important to appropriately recognize it and reward. This way they’re more likely to want to keep doing good work. 

For interactive, engaging eLearning modules, based around the key principles of Leadership, contact a member of our team.