The characteristics of good leaders

Thirteen qualities of good leaders, focusing on yourself, others and the organisation.

Leadership basics Characteristics


Leadership can be a somewhat vague concept, so and this list outlines the main attributes of a good leader, and provides a point of reference to work towards.

It’s useful to compare your own behaviours and characteristics against this list as a way of uncovering which areas you need to work on, whether through self-assessment or by asking colleagues, team members and managers. What should you start, stop or continue?

Leading yourself

  • Acting with integrity – Being professional and acting in the interests of all those involved.
  • Being honest and consistent – Being, and being seen to be, fair
  • Being decisive – Being prepared to take tough decisions and risks, as appropriate
  • Resolving complex problems – Being creative in solving problems

Leading and developing others

  • Enabling - Empowering people in a way that motivates and develops them
  • Inspiring others – Being able to inspire others and to motivate them to achieve goals.
  • Being accessible – Being approachable and not ‘status-conscious’ and making time to discuss people’s problems.
  • Encouraging change – Being supportive to others in questioning traditional approaches and finding new ways to solve problems.

Leading the organisation

  • Networking and achieving – Building and maintaining useful networks and achieving goals set.
  • Supporting a developmental culture – Being supportive when mistakes are made, encouraging critical feedback about self and standards.
  • Focusing effort – Being team oriented in problem-solving and decision-making
  • Building a shared vision – Encouraging the team to contribute to the vision, seeking commitment and enthusiasm.
  • Facilitating change sensitively – Considering the impact of change on a range of people.