Great Leaders: 17 Qualities That Set Them Apart

Too often, great leaders are those once in a lifetime happenings. Leaders will emerge anywhere there is a group – workplaces, organisations, teams, friendship and social circles, communities, families – anywhere. You won’t find many of the qualities that make a great leader on a resume or a job description – which is a shame – because they’re the ones that make the difference. Here are some qualities that make unforgettable and influential leaders.

  1. They genuinely care about the success of the others.

    Great leaders will do whatever they can to keep the path to success wide open for everyone – and not just by giving well suited bottoms a comfy place to land when the midnight oil is burning on – night after night after night. In workplaces they’ll challenge and develop employees and offer opportunities for intellectual and professional growth.

  2. They say ‘Yes, and …’ instead of ‘Yes, but …’.

    Before moving on to change, advise or tweak, they acknowledge the work behind the idea and the contribution it makes to the ones that come after it.

  3. They are open to new ideas – and not just their own.

    Being able to say ‘no’ is important but if it’s used too quickly or too often it will stifle creativity. The best ideas come from the nuttiest ones. Great leaders support ideas and concepts and allow them to be expanded to their full potential. That doesn’t mean they jump on every pony that comes along – some things were never meant to fly – but they acknowledge the thought, effort and value behind an idea, even if the value is what track not to travel down.

  4. They are emotionally open – in a professional way.

    They get excited and are quick to let on when they’re disappointed in themselves. They’ll celebrate everyone’s wins and will empathise when things don’t go to plan. At times they’ll become cranky or frustrated. And then they’ll apologise. Professionalism with humanity. A heroic combo.

  5. They appreciate others – and others feel appreciated.

    Great leaders are very quick to give positive feedback. Because of the way they lead, employees feel like they work with not for a boss, so will have more of an investment in the outcome. People work harder when they know what they is being noticed.

  6. They don’t steal credit.

    They give credit openly, publicly and wholeheartedly. We learnt not to steal as toddlers because it was the quickest way to be tumbled. Nothing’s changed. People aren’t stupid and those who steal credit for someone else’s work will find it’s the quickest way to have a target plastered on their back. 

  7. They are humble.

    When things are going bad, they’ll blame themselves. When things are going well, they’ll applaud the efforts of those around them. Leaders who have solid self-insight, are more self-critical, humble and whose opinion of their leadership quality are more inline – and not grander – than the opinions of those they are with, are more engaging and engender more commitment, according to new research. The overwhelming bulk of leaders in highly successful companies, including Fortune 500 companies, have this one particular trait. 

  8. They are never abusive.

    Leaders who are abusive throw an entire team into conflict. Productivity is reduced as the focus is shifted from coping with the conflict and away from performance. 

  9. Intelligence with integrity.

    Intelligence is important but it isn’t enough on its own. There are plenty of intelligent leaders who have made bad decisions. A lack of integrity will blind wisdom and will too often lead to decisions that fail to consider all possible implications. When a decision is made by a leader of high integrity, even if the decision is an unpopular one, it will be respected all the same and will generally engender the least fallout. Generally.

  10. They are likeable.

    People won’t follow people they don’t like. Leaders with good character will inspire others towards optimal performance. Leaders can be as educated and impressive as they think you are but if people don’t like them, their influence will wither. People will do as much as they need to, and nothing more.

  11. The instill trust.

    Leaders who lead through fear will get the mimimum. Leaders who connect with those around them and genuinely care will inspire peak performance. People will want to do their best and work their hardest for somebody they like. For someone they fear, the goal becomes staying out of trouble.

  12. They aren’t afraid to say the tough stuff.

    Great leaders know that constructive criticism is never ‘constructive’. It’s just criticism. (How did those two words ever find each other anyway?). Putting the word ‘constructive’ in front of criticism doesn’t make it so. That doesn’t mean they only ever talk glossy. Not at all. If something needs addressing, they’ll do it but they’ll do it with grace. They’ll sandwich it between strengths, reassure, and offer constructive advice.

  13. They inspire, educate, motivate. 

    Inspiration. Education. Motivation. A great leader will always provide at least two of these – not necessarily the same two – to everyone around them.

  14. They get their hands dirty.

    They’ve been there. Done that. Haven’t stopped yet. They never feel so self-important as to be above the grunt work. As a result, people will put in the work that’s necessary. They lead a culture where entitlement isn’t tolerated and hard work is valued and appreciated.

  15. They won’t tolerate ‘white-anting’.

    Organisations and groups are brought to their knees by rumour-mongering and smack talk that happens behind backs. Great leaders create a culture that squeezes this out. Of course, that doesn’t mean there won’t always be people with forks in their tongues. What it means is that they run against the tide of the organisation.

  16. They see opportunity in the uncertainty and the problems.

    Crisis brings opportunity if there is a leader ready to learn, change and flex around it. Major changes don’t generally happen when things are going well.

  17. They keep improving.

    Even at the pinnacle of their career they will continue to grow. They will seek out new directions, read and listen. The will continue to grow and expand themselves, both personally and professionally.

Aside form being sharp, quick and intelligent, great leaders are emotionally intelligent and have a profound capacity to inspire and connect with those around them. Great leaders aren’t easily defined, but when you’re in the company of one, you know it.

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The move towards brave doesn’t have to be a leap. It can be a shuffle - lots of brave tiny steps, each one more brave than before. What’s important isn’t the size of the step but the direction.

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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #neuronurtured #anxiety #anxietyinchildren
You know who I love? (Not counting every food delivery person who has delivered takeaway to my home. Or the person who puts the little slots in the sides of the soy sauce packets to make them easier to open. Not counting those people.) You know who? Adolescents. I just love them. 
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Today I spoke with two big groups of secondary school students about managing anxiety. In each talk, as there are in all of my talks with teens, there were questions. Big, open-hearted, thoughtful questions that go right to the heart of it all. 
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Some of the questions they asked were:
- What can I do to help my friend who is feeling big anxiety?
- What can I do to help an adult who has anxiety?
- How can I start the conversation about anxiety with my parents?

Our teens have big, beautiful, open hearts. They won’t always show us that, but they do. They want to be there for their friends and for the adults in their lives. They want to be able to come to us and talk about the things that matter, but sometimes they don’t know how to start. They want to step up and be there for their important people, including their parents, but sometimes they don’t know how. They want to be connected to us, but they don’t want to be controlled, or trapped in conversations that won’t end once they begin. 

Our teens need to know that the way to us is open. The more they can feel their important adults holding on to them - not controlling them - the better. Let them know you won’t cramp them, or intrude, or ask too many questions they don’t want you to ask. Let them know that when they want the conversation to stop, it will stop. But above all else, let them know you’re there. Tell them they don’t need to have all the words. They don’t need to have any words at all. Tell them that if they let you know they want to chat, you can handle anything that comes from there - even if it’s silence, or messy words, or big feelings - you can handle all of it. Our teens are extraordinary and they need us during adolescence more than ever, but this will have to be more on their terms for a while.  They love you and they need you. They won’t always show it, but I promise you, they do.♥️
Sometimes silence means 'I don't have anything to say.' Sometimes it means, 'I have plenty to say but I don't want to share it right here and right now.' We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety are thoughtful, observant and insightful, and their wisdom will always have the potential to add something important to the world for all of us.

 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness
Rather than talking to them about what they can’t do (and they’ll probably want to talk about this a lot - that’s what anxiety does), ask them what they can do. It doesn’t matter how small the step is, as long as it’s forward.
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The idea is to gradually and gently expose them to the things that feel frightening. This is the only way to re-teach the amygdala that it’s safe. Let them know you understand it feels scary - they need to know you feel what they feel and that you get it. This will make your belief in them and your refusal to support avoidance more meaningful. Then move them towards brave.
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This can be tough. To move our children towards the things that are causing them distress pushes fiercely against our instincts as a parent - but - supporting avoidance, overprotecting, over-reassuring, the things we do that unintentionally accommodate anxiety over brave behaviour will only feed anxiety and make it more resistant to change. (And as a parent I’ve done all of these things at some time - we’re parents, not perfect, and parental love has a way of drawing us all in to unhelpful behaviours in the name of protecting our kiddos). .
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The point is, moving our children towards brave behaviour can feel awful, but it’s so important. When they focus on the fear and what they can’t do, try, ‘Okay, I know this feels scary. I really do. I also know you can do this. I understand this step feels too big, so what little step can you take towards it? What can you do that is braver than last time?’

 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #adolescence #positiveparentingtips #heyawesome #mentalhealth #heysigmund #motherhoodcommunity #parentingtips #anxiety #anxietysupport #anxietyrelief #parentingadvice #anxietyinchildren #heywarrior #childanxiety #anxietyawareness #mentalwellness
We can’t decide the lessons our children learn and we can’t decide when they learn them, but we can create the space that invites the discovery. We can do this by making it safe for them to speak, and to wander around their own experiences so the lessons and wisdom can emerge.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #adolescence

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