Key Qualities of Effective Leadership


Effective leaders help their teams feel secure in what they need to do, and productive, so they can provide exemplary results for the team. The best leaders demonstrate decision-making skills and always step in to encourage, mentor, and defend their teams when necessary. While each leader eventually develops their leadership style, the leadership traits shown by strong leaders have a lot in common.

To become a better leader, you must build relationships of trust with your team as you embrace common goals and embrace effective communication skills even in difficult situations.

Table of Contents

  • Great Leaders Build Trust With Team Members
  • Build Active Listening Skills
  • Develop Emotional Intelligence to Bolster Communication Skills
  • Self-awareness and Good Communication
  • Prioritize and Delegate
  • Consider Leadership Development

Great Leaders Build Trust With Team Members

While most effective leaders have to focus on their place within a larger organization, building trust with one’s team is one of the most important leadership qualities successful leaders hone. Good leadership looks like taking time to get to know the team — not just through less sincere team-based activities, but by learning about each team member’s goals and recognizing each person’s proficiency in both hard and soft skills.

True leaders understand that most team members want to learn new skills instead of simply participating in monotonous, hard work. They don’t overstep or micromanage but facilitate a work environment of adaptability and teamwork by leading the team through change so each team member can unlock their full potential.

Build Active Listening Skills

One of the essential leadership qualities involves being a good listener. This means listening actively. Instead of thinking about how and when you’d like to interject or what you’d like to say next, listen to your team member’s concerns and the context of their situation. As a leader, you have a lot to learn from your team — and one of the qualities of a good leader is recognizing that and learning how to incorporate individuals’ ideas to help make teams and processes stronger.

Active listening helps people understand each other. When using this listening style, you can take in what the other person has to say and then repeat their concern, giving them the chance to confirm you’ve understood them. For example, “It seems like you’re getting conflicting instructions from the Standard Operating Procedure document, and you’d like permission to update it so it’s clearer. Is that right?”

This is especially helpful when an employee presents a solution, as in the above example. You can give them the go-ahead, or help them refine their idea. Emphasizing that it is their idea, especially for employees who are traditionally ignored or talked over, can help them feel seen and continue to make active contributions in the future.

Develop Emotional Intelligence to Bolster Communication Skills

Emotional intelligence is more than professional development: it’s about managing your own emotions so you can assess a situation before responding. A good leader is emotionally intelligent and demonstrates this ability by understanding and reflecting upon the emotions of others around them as well. Emotional intelligence is one of the leadership characteristics that pairs well with active listening.

In addition to helping with leadership, emotional intelligence can inform responses on social media (including professional platforms like LinkedIn), where hot-button topics encourage fast-fire responses. It’s also an ideal customer service skill.

Self-awareness and Good Communication

Self-awareness is something to model and another one of the characteristics of a good leader. Great problem-solving starts with being aware of yourself and the situations around you, and being emotionally and practically available to help your team.

Professionals can work on their self-awareness in many ways, including spiritual or psychological explorations. To unlock your own creativity and confident leadership style, you need self-awareness as a critical step. Effective introspection is the key to developing self-awareness, so you can get past your ego and put yourself out there to help your team instead.

Instead of viewing everything like a competition (including your relationships with your team members), consider prioritizing clear communication and not always needing to have the last word — especially when it comes to email. Without your ego in the way, you’ll be more productive, more effective, and feel safer for your team members to approach you.

Prioritize and Delegate Tasks and Responsibilities

Along with trusting your team is your ability to help them prioritize tasks as you delegate them. To delegate means trusting a team member with the responsibility of completing the task, including tasks you are ultimately accountable for as the leader or manager of the team.

When new responsibilities fall to your team, you’ll have to help your team reprioritize. If you’re getting too much work for the team to handle, it’s up to you to advocate for a solution, such as getting more people on the team to help. This reflects your competency in your leadership role when it comes to speaking for your team.

Consider Leadership Development

Effective leaders are always learning. They’re role models to their team. If you want your team to learn and grow professionally, the best way you can do that is to model the example. You can try some LinkedIn leadership courses or invest in something more extensive, such as an MBA.

As you consider your evolving role in an organization, don’t forget about your team. Leaders are stakeholders in their team’s success, which means supporting their learning and career advancement goals as individuals, too.

Bottom Line: Leadership Skills Help Your Team Meet Their Goals

Ultimately, the skills you choose to develop and demonstrate should have a purpose: to help your team work more effectively, to make each team member feel comfortable, and to ensure that your team can meet defined goals. To do this, consider shifting responsibilities with feedback, making time to understand concerns, and always approaching a situation with empathy when possible.