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Our Top Five Leadership Qualities

Much has been written on leadership qualities and which qualities matter in which situations. It is important to realise that even though we may all have different opinions regarding this, research has found certain leadership qualities to be more effective, productive, and profitable than others.

When you appoint, train, and promote leaders, do you have a clear idea and criteria of the leadership qualities you value and require in your organisation? Or do you feel that every leadership quality is acceptable as long as the outcome is achieved? Can the same outcome be achieved regardless of different leadership qualities?

Here at The Leadership Coaches, we would argue that certain leadership qualities have a far more significant positive impact on outcomes for your organisation in areas such as well-being, diversity, the bottom-line, and the good of society.

But what do you think? And importantly, what are you basing your thoughts on?

In this blog, we highlight five leadership qualities that we feel have positive impacts.

Our Top Five Leadership Qualities


Not always a leadership quality associated with leaders, this may be a surprising quality for some as it can be perceived as weak. In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins was also surprised by this outcome from the 15 years of data that he complied. He found that humility, together with a steely will, was a combination that built momentum that delivered the world’s most successful organisations.

Humility and vulnerability go hand in hand. As Patrick Lencioni points out in his book, “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team”, there can be little trust built by a leader without vulnerability.

Humility is a leader means being modest, not boastful, being calm, inspiring through standards, avoiding the limelight, accepting blame but attributing success to others, being unassuming and setting up success for successors.


Different leadership qualities have been shown to be more effective than others, and two that are the most effective are collaboration and coaching. Developing a coaching style develops potential and stimulates growth that no other style pretends to do. As Michael Bungay Stanier says in his book, “The Coaching Habit”, the difficult thing is not learning to ask more questions. It is learning to give less advice.

To coach is to ask probing questions. It is to be told the truth because you create a non-judgemental space. It is not knowing the outcome of your conversation beforehand. It is about learning, development and growth, creating autonomy, valuing people and their decisions, holding to account because your team members take responsibility. It is about creative solutions where everyone’s ideas are respected. Coaching is about challenge and support.


Perhaps needed now more than ever, deep and emotionally led listening is a quality that allows others to feel heard and to be heard.

There is nothing quite like being truly heard.

This leadership quality is closely linked to Nancy Kline’s “Time to Think”, where the art of listening also promotes respecting each other as thinkers. As she says, “The best decisions follow the best thinking”.

How much do we truly listen rather than only superficially listening to interject with our own point or opinion?

How much do we interrupt or allow others to interrupt when someone is talking? If we respect thinking, we listen without interrupting.

Being Purpose Driven

Highlighted by Simon Sinek in his book, “Start with Why”, this leadership quality is about reaching self-actualisation that Maslow’s triangle has at its summit.

Having purpose means that everyone, including customers, works together to achieve that purpose and are inspired by that purpose.

Why get up in the morning? What inspires you? Why do people work for you? Why are your customers your customers?

Purpose-driven people can change the world and the market for the better.

Having Emotional Intelligence

This leadership quality has been expertly facilitated by The Leadership Coaches, Zoe Lewis, based on Daniel Goldman’s book “Working with Emotional Intelligence”.

Daniel Goldman says, “Emotional Intelligence competencies account for 85% of what sets outstanding managers apart from the average”.

How are you assessing and developing your leader’s emotional intelligence?

Each of these leadership qualities interacts and help develop each other. In this case, emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness, something that coaching improves and humility aids.

The strengths of emotionally intelligent leaders are self-awareness, social-awareness, self-management and relationship management.


Having reviewed our top five leadership qualities, we are interested to hear your thoughts.

Do you agree with these? Are there leadership qualities you would include or remove from these five? What could you do to develop them in your own leadership, and what could you do to make sure they are present and the priority in your organisation?

Our challenge to you is: have a clear understanding of the leadership qualities you have decided to prioritise the economy, equity and ecosystems, and then implement systems, procedures and processes that bring this about in yourself and your organisation.


What Research Says About Leadership Styles and Their Implications for School Climate and Teacher Job Satisfaction

Steven C. Wynn Cedarville University,

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

“5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni

“Time to Think” by Nancy Kline

“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

“Working with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goldman

Beyond bonuses: what motivates Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers by Hannah Wren


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