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Seven Personal Characteristics of a Good Leader

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

Ninety percent of leadership is the ability to communicate something people want. - Dianne Feinstein

How often have you heard the comment that they are a born leader? Specific characteristics in some people naturally put them in a position where they are looked up to as a leader.

Whether a person is born a leader or develops skills and abilities to become a leader is open for debate. There are evident characteristics that are found in good leaders. These qualities can be created or may be naturally part of their personality. Let us explore them further.

Seven Personal Qualities Found in A Good Leader

1. A good leader has exemplary character. It is of utmost importance that a leader is trustworthy to lead others. A leader needs to be trusted and be known to live their life honestly and with integrity. A good leader walks the talk and, in doing so, earns the right to have responsibility for others. Proper authority is born from respect for the excellent character and trustworthiness of the person who leads.

2. A good leader is enthusiastic about their work or cause and their role as a leader. People will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication. Leaders need to be a source of inspiration and a motivator toward the required action or cause. Although a leader's responsibilities and roles may differ, the leader must be seen as part of the team working towards the goal. This kind of leader will not be afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.

3. A good leader is confident. To lead and set direction, a leader must appear convinced. Such a person inspires confidence in others and draws out the trust and best efforts of the team to complete the task well. A leader who conveys confidence towards the proposed aim inspires the best action from team members.

4. A leader also needs to function in an orderly and purposeful manner in situations of uncertainty. People look to the leader during times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity and find reassurance and security when the leader portrays confidence and a positive demeanor.

5. Good leaders tolerate ambiguity and remain calm, composed, and steadfast to the primary purpose. Storms, emotions, and crises come and go, and a good leader takes these as part of the journey and keeps a cool head.

6. A good leader who keeps the main goal in focus can think analytically. A good leader cannot only view a situation but also break it down into sub-parts for closer inspection. Not only is the goal in view, but a good leader can break it down into manageable steps and progress towards it.

7. A good leader is committed to excellence. A good leader not only keeps lofty standards but also is initiative-taking in raising the bar to achieve excellence in all areas. The second best does not lead to success.

These seven personal characteristics are foundational to good leadership. Features may be more naturally present in the personality of a leader. However, each of these characteristics can also be developed and strengthened. Good leaders, whether they naturally have these qualities, will be diligent in consistently developing and supporting them in their leadership roles.

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