Kaur Thoughts

Do you have the Essential Qualities and Skills of a Good Leader?

Posted 13th July 2011

We all recognise good leaders, but have you ever stopped to think what are the essential qualities and skills that are common to all good leaders?

In fact, these qualities which we admire so much in others are also inside of all of us and the real question is how much time and effort do we invest in our own personal development to develop our skills.

Good leadership includes being innovative, knowledgeable, taking initiatives and being a good communicator; but in addition it is having the ability to inspire others, involve others and be able to implement your vision. The most important quality is the ability to be true to yourself. You cannot fake inspiring and involving others, people are either engaged with your vision or they are not.

There are many theories on leadership from the “Great Man” theories, through to trait, behaviour, situational, participative, management and relationship theories to name a few of the classic works. In my view, it doesn’t matter what the theories say because it is about you, your style, your personality, your temperament, your attitude and your values. The functions of leadership include: setting objectives, planning, communicating, organising, reviewing, challenging and direction setting and only you know how well you perform in each of these areas. You may argue that this is the same list for managers, so what is the difference?

From a business perspective leaders lead growth and managers manage operations, a more insightful comparison is from a people’s perspective: management is achieving through others, whereas leadership is shaping and directing the behaviours of others. Leaders influence attitudes, skills, knowledge by which people translate their activity into mutually desirable goals.

It is the qualities of leadership that puts it into context. The essential qualities include:

  • Courage -Not being afraid to challenge or to be different. Being confident in the risk of your decision.
  • Integrity – Conveying a sense of standard and values that you adhere to, it is important that people can trust you and they can only trust you if they know what you stand for.
  • Enthusiasm -Would you follow anyone who lacks enthusiasm? Do I really need to elaborate?
  • Warmth – A warm personality is infectious and engaging; a cold and unapproachable person is generally not appreciated. In fact the intentions of anyone who does not display a warm and welcoming personality often find their intentions are misinterpreted.
  • Calmness – It is very important to be able to instil a sense of authority and knowledge. This is what people want when the pressure is on.
  • Tough/firm – A fine balance of being focussed on the vision and steering everyone towards it without being too autocratic or too laissez-faire. It is knowing where you need to be on a sliding scale between these two extremes that is appropriate for a given situation.

People welcome leaders who inspire confidence, are worthy of their trust, competent and forward looking. In addition, businesses welcome potential leaders in the making who display business competence, strategic thinking, influential communication, competent project and risk management, people and stakeholder engagement skills and above all else, a safe pair of hands into which they can trust the company growth.

To succeed as good leader you do need to be quite adept at being able to deliver on projects with fewer resources while balancing the team’s needs and developing their skills with their own project responsibilities, as well as being able to keep yourself up-to-date on industry advances and develop yourself personally and professionally. A good leader will have competent skills in the following areas:

  • Financial management and planning
  • Negotiation and Influence
  • Strategy and Vision
  • Communication and Presentation
  • Personal Effectiveness
  • People and Team Management

By assessing your own skills against the above list, can you identify where you need to focus your development?

This is a question only you can answer. But remember there is not one type of leader but many. We all have the essential qualities of a good leader, should we choose to display them and we can all develop the skills to be a good leader, should we choose to do so.