100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths?
That’s a question I ask in a survey that participants complete before attending my “Poised for Leadership” workshop.  As I prepare for a session, one of my favorite activities is to read each groups’ responses and compile the highlights, a leadership qualities list on a slide titled, “A leader is someone who…”

The answers, of course, vary tremendously. The world is full of leadership books and gurus, and they all have their own definition of what it takes to lead.

Instead of overwhelming my workshop participants with one more definition, I prefer to share their thoughts on the subject. While most attendees aren’t yet in management or technical leadership roles (though they aspire to be), I’ve found that their collective response paints a remarkably inspiring and detailed picture of leadership at its best.

On workshop day, I read them the list, letting them know, “This is what being a leader means to you.”

Here’s the 100 leadership qualities list, compiled from 20 recent workshops. Which of these have you mastered, and which would you like to improve on?

100 Leadership Qualities List

A leader is someone who…

1. Sees the big picture
2. Thinks strategically
3. Focuses on the future
4. Sets the vision
5. Displays a strong business acumen
6. Sets the direction
7. Strives for continuous improvement
8. Sees a cross-functional, cross-organizational view
9. Thinks critically
10. Focuses on the customer
11. Possesses strong interpersonal skills
12. Communicates with transparency
13. Sends clear messages
14. Speaks in an impactful way
15. Delivers effective speaking presentations
16. Gives open, honest, and direct feedback
17. Listens to understand
18. Asks the right questions at the right time
19. Breaks down complex information into simple terms
20. Interacts comfortably with people at all levels
21. Stays positive and constructive during difficult conversations
22. Finds middle ground and a path forward
23. Manages crises and conflict with ease
24. Goes above and beyond
25. Focuses on results
26. Likes to succeed
27. Drives results
28. Gets things done
29. Stays goal-oriented and solution-focused
30. Acts decisively
31. Makes decisions in times of ambiguity
32. Completes difficult tasks despite obstacles
33. Exudes energy and determination
34. Pushes for what she or he believes in
35. Embodies a positive attitude
36. Has tenacity and curiosity
37. Strives to accomplish what they commit to doing
38. Takes ownership
39. Takes charge and assumes responsibility
40. Sets high standards
41. Has excellent organizational and execution skills
42. Embraces change and course-corrects when needed
43. Takes risks
44. Is fearless
45. Exudes passion, honesty, and dependability
46. Wins trust
47. Collaborates
48. Operates with integrity and fairness
49. Has a thirst for learning
50. Shares know-how
51. Shows empathy
52. Is supportive and caring
53. Stays calm in difficult situations
54. Possesses leadership presence
55. Leads by example
56. Serves as a role model
57. Earns the respect of people at all levels of the organization
58. Stands up for what they believe in
59. Is an influencer
60. Inspires and empowers others
61. Motivates others during times of uncertainty
62. Influences without authority
63. Works across functions to get the job done
64. Manages up, down, and across
65. Engages differing points of view
66. Builds teams and fosters teamwork
67. Instills a sense of community
68. Adapts their message to the environment
69. Rallies people to achieve a common goal
70. Creates a shared sense of purpose
71. Relates work to the organization’s goals to inspire action
72. Motivates people and aligns them around team goals
73. Ensures team spirit is upbeat
74. Builds collaborative teams and guides them to execute on big projects
75. Inspires people to act and move toward goals
76. Delegates
77. Sets clear expectations
78. Trusts others to do their jobs without micromanaging
79. Enables others to be successful
80. Removes obstacles from a team’s path
81. Gives positive and constructive feedback
82. Allows people to learn from mistakes
83. Develops strong talent
84. Mentors, coaches, and develops people
85. Empowers others
86. Provides people with the tools and autonomy to get things done
87. Acts as a strong advocate for those they manage and mentor
88. Gives credit where it is due
89. Celebrates others’ achievements
90. Rewards good performance
91. Creates opportunities for visibility
92. Attributes successes to those who contributed
93. Builds up team members and helps them grow
94. Understands the motivations of others to inspire them in their work
95. Identifies and utilizes others’ strengths
96. Encourages others to do their best
97. Cares about the well-being of the team
98. Enjoys seeing others succeed
99. Brings out the best in people
100. Helps others shine

Need a quick burst of leadership inspiration?

Try this exercise:

Step 1: Select ten leadership qualities from this list that best represent the style of leadership you’d like to be known for in the next year.

Step 2: Narrow the list down to the top three leadership qualities that best represent the leadership strengths you’d most like to own and be known for.

It helps to combine any areas that are similar, like 69: Rallies people to achieve a common goal and 70: Creates a shared sense of purpose.

As you do this step, try to focus on your strengths and innate leadership style, rather than having a list of ten areas that are weaknesses. Make sure your list includes at least one item that is an existing strength, and one is a new strength you aspire to develop. Set yourself up for success by selecting those that you feel predisposed to become great at. Leading from your strengths takes a whole lot less energy than twisting yourself into a pretzel, trying to become someone that’s not really you.

Step 3: Write your three qualities on a post-it note and stick it somewhere where you’ll see it daily. Look out for opportunities to practice them this week. If it helps, write up an action plan to develop those qualities.

Bonus step: Show this leadership qualities list to some people who know you well, such as a trusted colleague, mentor or manager. Ask them to identify your top three qualities and share them with you.

Was this useful? What did you discover? What’s your plan to develop these qualities? Post a comment and share!

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Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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