5 Characteristics of a Great Leader

It’s hard to define what qualities distinguish good leaders. Almost all of them have faced challenges and setbacks on their way to success.  For many, this is what defines and motivates their leadership style.

While good leaders have a variety of styles and personalities, they all share some of the same characteristics.

In this article, we’re going to cover five key characteristics of a good leader, namely:

  • Communication
  • Accountability
  • Vision
  • Empathy
  • Gratitude

1. Leaders maintain regular communication

It’s no surprise that communication is at the top of the essential leadership qualities list. Your efforts to connect with your team, manage and coordinate initiatives, and build trust within your organisation can be made or broken by your ability to communicate.

An employee-focused leader communicates effectively. Employees are communicated with according to their needs and preferences, and the employee experience is sought to be understood.

A culture of good communication can be built in countless ways, but good leaders often employ the following strategies:

  • Regularly meeting with employees one-on-one.
  • Formally and informally, seek out and provide feedback.
  • Take advantage of multiple communication tools, including email, chat, project management software, and meetings.
  • Avoid gossip at all costs.
  • Integrate work into the goals, values, and mission of the team or organisation.
  • Follow up on actions and follow-through.

Employee morale is negatively impacted by a lack of open, honest communication. By communicating thoroughly, consistently, and honestly, leaders build trust with their teams, increase employee confidence in the organisation, and foster an environment where employees thrive.

2. Leaders take responsibility for their actions

Good leaders are accountable to themselves and constantly strive to improve and progress. They are never satisfied with the status quo. Accountability and continuous improvement necessitate a willingness to seek and act on feedback, learn from mistakes, and correct course when necessary.

Communication of plans, setting expectations, and following up on promised actions all fall under the umbrella of accountability. Good leaders hold themselves and their teams accountable so that everyone is on the same page and can rely on each other to complete the task.

Everyone benefits when leadership models accountability.

Accountability improves culture, inspires excellence, establishes expectations, and builds trust—not just among leaders, but also among team members.

3. Develop a vision for the future

Change and obstacles need focus, motivation, and direction to be overcome. Do you have a purpose? Are you trying to reach a specific goal as an individual, a team, or an organisation?

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” -Jack Welch

Providing the “why” behind all they do is essential for leaders. They need to be able to link the work on the ground to the big picture. A leader who can do this helps employees align with their strategy and engage with their work more meaningfully.

4. Demonstrate empathy for their workers

When it comes to leadership, empathy isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s essential for fostering team trust, confidence, and engagement.

Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to another person’s thoughts and feelings.  Empathic, understanding, and compassionate leaders build stronger relationships with their employees and boost overall performance.

There are several ways to demonstrate empathy in your day-to-day management:

  • Look for and recognise signs of burnout in your employees. Empathetic leaders have the ability to spot when people are overworked and intervene to prevent it.
  • Demonstrate genuine concern for your employees’ personal lives. As a result, good leaders respect their employees’ individuality and recognise their contributions. Get to know your employees on a personal level and show a genuine interest in their hobbies, needs, and goals.
  • Provide your employees with support outside of work. Supporting your team outside of work shows that you care and strengthens your personal bonds with them.

5. Express gratitude

A grateful leader is a powerful leader. Gratitude fosters positive interactions, and connection boosts engagement, which leads to increased resilience.

Grateful leaders recognise that success is a team effort and make it a point to acknowledge their team’s efforts. 

Good leaders show their appreciation for their employees’ efforts by:

  • Daily compliments
  • Celebrating small and big wins
  • Receiving and acting on employee feedback
  • Recognising employees’ contributions

Great leaders use compassion to express gratitude in small and large ways that have a significant impact on employee engagement. It takes more than task management and performance tracking to be a good leader. 


Great leaders come from various backgrounds and rarely follow a predetermined path to becoming a leader. Oftentimes, they use compassion, gratitude, communication, and a healthy dose of humility and accountability to accomplish this.

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