Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (2023)

Qualities of good team leaders

Just the word leader is enough to conjure images of success: leaders like New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, civil rights movement leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Tesla Motors founder, Elon Musk. Not only do they lead effectively in extremely challenging circumstances, but they are (mostly) universally appreciated.

What did they do on their journey through life to become great leaders?

Of course, not every leader is successful – we can all think of a manager who exhibited traits of negative leadership. But is knowing the difference between qualities of a goodleader and bad leadership enough to ensure we become successful leaders? To lead requires a broad range of skills – the good news is that leadership qualities can all be learned. This article highlights those skills you might already have, alongside some shortcomings that you can address on your way to successful leadership.

1. Leadership is not all about you

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (1)

The principal role of a leader is to enable and empower a team to achieve both collective and individual goals. It can involve delegation, instruction and training, but at the heart of it all is a desire to serve. Effective leaders align with Servant Leadership principles that focus on developing teams. These principles span from in-depth personal development programs to the simplicity of understanding how your team members like to be rewarded. Servant Leadership is less about handing over authority and more about empowering others to succeed.

Dr Andrea North-Samardzic is the Course Director of Deakin University’s Master of Leadership. While she recommends the qualities of Servant Leadership, Dr North-Samardzic warns against locking yourself into any one style of leadership.

(Video) How to Lead - Top Qualities of a Team Leader | Team Leader Skills | Invensis Learning

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (2)

Being able to be flexible and adaptive is increasingly needed rather than simply putting a badge on yourself because sometimes you need to be a manager more than a leader.

“A good leader is a person who knows when to turn it on and when to turn it off,” declares Dr North-Samardzic.

If you are embracing your servant leader side, it’s essential to seek feedback from your team. Honest feedback can be a frightening process – many leaders don’t ask because they don’t want to know the answer! But it’s the issues raised when asking for feedback from the team that provides a roadmap for successful leadership. Resolve these issues, and you will have more engaged staff who feel that their contribution is valued.

2. Honesty, Integrity and Humility

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Integrity and honesty are critical characteristics of a good leader, and both appear to be critically lacking. In a US survey, half of all employees reported that their bosses are liars who take credit for anything good that happens. These leaders didn’t give credit where it was due, failed in keeping promises, and blamed others as a way to cover up their mistakes. As a result, workers weren’t satisfied with their jobs, were less likely to take on additional tasks and more likely to leave.

Would you consider a sports referee to be a leader? They have authority, they help teams achieve an outcome (whether it’s a positive or negative outcome depends on which team you support!), and they are nothing without integrity and honesty. Referees and umpires are also experts in humility – the quality of being humble. NRL referees have adopted core values and behaviours that include identifying strengths and weaknesses, working towards self-improvement and acknowledging that no individual is more important than the group.

While referees display many qualities of a leader, they lack two key elements of positive leadership – compassion and empathy. Referees need to make cold hard decisions and can’t afford to take into account the personal feelings of players. A successful team leader, on the other hand, can achieve better outcomes by approaching conflict with compassion and empathy. Compassion is defined as the motivation to help others with their physical, mental or emotional pains, while empathy is the ability to recognise the emotions of another.

In short, if you are aware of how someone in your team is feeling, and you use that awareness to help them, you are leading with compassion and empathy. It’s been shown that even if you experience a passing feeling of empathy for a team member, that can be enough to break your focus on our own emotions. Use this moment to focus your attention on that team-member and help them achieve a shared goal.

3. Hold your team (and yourself) accountable

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (4)

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Away from the sports field, coaching is a critical skill in leadership that gives you the ability to hold your team (and yourself) accountable without shaming anybody. Using methods like the GROW model you can work with an individual or a team to give them ownership of a goal while making sure you’re all aware of the current realities and obstacles. However, the most important step is to look at the way forward where you must ask the person you’re coaching – how committed are you? Knowing that answer in advance will make accountability easier to achieve.

Dr Andrea North-Samardzic points out that, in addition to their team, successful leaders also hold themselves accountable as a key leadership quality.

“For effective leadership, you have to engage in self-reflection. If you can self-diagnose what your weaknesses are, what your challenges are before someone else tells you then you're in an amazing position.”

According to Dr North-Samardzic, the need for self-reflection in Australian corporate leadership has been revealed during the parliamentary review of the four major banks.

"The CEO of NAB said that banking shifted away from a customer focus twenty years ago.How could you not see problems developing over two decades? With the Master of Leadership, we're forcing you to be self-reflective, so you'll be able to see those problems coming a mile off.”

4. Good leaders make a decisive commitment to a vision

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (5)

A commitment to a vision drives all great leaders. It’s more than a goal, and it’s different from a corporate mission statement. Positive change often comes from a leader articulating a vision of abundance – with an upbeat future, successful outcomes and a legacy that people care about. But before leaders can inspire others with their vision, they must develop it, define it and be committed to it. It becomes the touchstone against which all decisions and actions are defined.

To be a confident, effective leader, you must be a capable decision maker. This doesn’t simply mean you can make a decision – you need to be proficient. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was criticised for his captain’s picks, most notably his decision to re-introduce Dames and Knights by knighting Prince Phillip. A capable decision maker uses a decision-making process that considers the expectations of key stakeholders. They make rational choices that fairly evaluate the probability of good or bad outcomes.

5. Know thy self and believe in thy self

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (6)

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As one of the first behavioural scientists, Erich Fromm declared in 1939, “Hatred against oneself is inseparable from hatred against others.” Daniel Goleman backed this up in 1998 with his research into emotional intelligence which found that our knowledge about ourselves is essential to improving our management skills. Only when we accept the strengths and weaknesses in ourselves can we genuinely accept the same in our team. The challenge is to be brave enough to embark on a journey of self-knowledge.

Self-Confidence is a personality trait that is essential in leadership, and it comes from many sources. Education, previous experience and position authority can all lead to increased self-confidence. They can also lead to excessive self-confidence which may result in arrogant, autocratic and intolerant leadership. Confidence built through skill development helps to avoid these issues. When combined with self-knowledge, skill development can address gaps in knowledge to increase self-confidence in a measured way that results in more effective leadership.

6. Successful team leaders speak well and listen better

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (7)

Warren Buffet regularly tells MBA students that their degree will give them an edge, but it’s public speaking skills that will put them ahead of their competitors. To be an effective leader, you must be an articulate speaker – an ability which few are born with, but everybody can learn. Always prepare what you are going to say, whether your audience is 1000, or just one. It also helps to be a keen listener. Great leaders can make you feel like the most important person in the room because they are present in the moment and they go beyond listening to really hear you.

Seeking and listening to feedback from the team is a powerful way to cultivate self-esteem in yourself and the team. Some experts see self-esteem as an individual’s self-rating of their social inclusion. By listening you can cultivate self-esteem in your team, leading to greater resilience in your team members. While this outcome can boost your self-esteem as a leader, it’s also important to take care of yourself and seek feedback from mentors and individuals you trust outside of your team.

7. Achieve goals in good time

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (8)

Effective leaders are goal-driven with strong time management abilities. They usually weave the two together into one harmonious process that is a marvel to observe. Never do they pause to think through the meanings of each letter in a SMART goal, because every goal they set is specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-framed. If you’re regularly surprised by reminders from your calendar, it might be time to review your relationship to time management.

In management, it can be a constant challenge to keep the big picture in mind while focusing on priorities. The tools that we use to help us focus can sometimes be the greatest distraction. Many get so caught up in the measures of Balanced Score Cards and other goal setting systems that they lose sight of their destination. Leaders must be disciplined about focus and priorities to enable their teams, and themselves to achieve their goals.

8. Successful leaders master stress management

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (9)

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Has anything good ever come from the question “Can I see you in my office for a moment?”. This sentence can bring about the fight/flight mechanism in your chosen team member, which most of us know of, but few understand. Polyvagal Theory(also see video) explains the three elements of our nervous system, or stress management system, known as fight, flight or shutdown. Think of a gazelle who encounters a lioness. Fight is not an option, so it leaps into flight. Unfortunately, the lioness catches it, and as the lioness’s teeth close around the gazelle’s neck, it goes limp – shutdown. If the lioness gets distracted, the flight response kicks back in, the gazelle comes back to life and is off again. With an understanding of stress management, you’ll be able to recognise situations that invoke the fight/flight mechanism in your team. With this knowledge, you can take preventative action, arrange training or adjust workflows for improved stress management.

Many leaders talk about their daily meditation routine which they kicked off after a health scare for their stress management. It’s not uncommon for leaders to put work as their priority, then maybe family and friends in the second position, while care for themselves ranks third – or even lower. To be successful, leaders must take time for self-care and personal wellbeing. It is possible to do this before your mental or physical health suffers. The best part about self-care is that it usually makes you more pleasant to be around as well, so your team will thank you in more ways than one.

Closely linked to self-care is the importance of support from your community. It can be lonely when you’re the decision maker, motivator and goal setter. Support may be available within your organisation from other managers or senior leaders – if it isn’t, consider establishing your board of advisors. From former colleagues, classmates and lecturers you can create a community of support that’s just a phone call away. If these people aren’t available to you, consider a professional mentor or business coach.

9. Avoid dysfunctions and reward excellence

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (10)

An essential characteristic of a successful team leader is an understanding of ‘The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team’. Patrick Lencioni identified these qualities which can often be found in individuals but can also affect an entire team. One of the most challenging is ‘Fear of Conflict’ which leaves issues unaddressed to fester, or even worse to damage business performance and put individuals at risk. Successful leaders can identify any of the five dysfunctions early on, so they can take action to improve the performance of their team.

If a team member displays excellence and nobody notices, is it likely to be repeated? Wise leaders know how to nurture excellence. They reward the right behaviour, and they call out the wrong behaviour – consistency is the key. You must also be capable of seeing the best in people, which isn’t always easy – not because they are necessarily bad – but because of the high demands placed on leaders on a daily basis. It takes almost every other quality listed here, working in combination, to ensure you can see the best in people and nurture excellence.

10. Good leaders arelifelong learners

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader (11)

Many organisations have embraced Total Quality Management and other continuous improvement programs – particularly legacy brands that don’t want to be disrupted. They’ve learned from seeing successful companies like Kodak lose out to digital photography, and Nokia usurped by the smartphone. Leaders can adopt this continuous improvement thinking by becoming a lifelong learner. Top CEOs like Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Bill Gates have reading lists that are studied by people who hope to follow in their footsteps. University degrees can be completed online, in your own time, to keep your knowledge up-to-date and focus on the areas you need to improve.

To be a successful team leader takes a lot more than promotion and a bit of charm. Leadership qualities encompass a broad range of skills which few of us have inherently, but all of us can learn. Deakin University’s Masters inLeadership enables you to fill those skill gaps while recognizing the skills you have already gained in your work experience.

(Video) How To Be A Leader - The 7 Great Leadership Traits

Dr North-Samarzic says it’s also a great way to network and start building your personal advisory board and community of support.

“The fact that you're working with people who are in similar stages in their career, perhaps encountering the same leadership problems or concerns – it makes the peer learning environment really valuable,” adds Dr North-Samardzic.

The Masters inLeadership at Deakin is a 100% online course that lets you study at a time and place that suits you, while you continue your career.


Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader? ›

The seven leadership traits that help leaders build influence and trust with their teams are accountability, adaptability, authenticity, communication, compassion, self-awareness, and gratitude. Leaders who continuously develop these traits have high-performance teams of highly engaged and motivated employees.

What are 5 important traits of a team leader? ›

Top 10 Qualities of a Good Team Leader
  • Leadership is not all about you. ...
  • Honesty, Integrity and Humility. ...
  • Hold your team (and yourself) accountable. ...
  • Good leaders make a decisive commitment to a vision. ...
  • Know thy self and believe in thy self. ...
  • Successful team leaders speak well and listen better. ...
  • Achieve goals in good time.

What are the 10 most important quality of a leader? ›

What is a Successful Leader?
  1. Possess Self-awareness. One of the most important qualities of a good leader is self-awareness. ...
  2. Garner Credibility. ...
  3. Focus on Relationship Building. ...
  4. Have a Bias for Action. ...
  5. Exhibit Humility. ...
  6. Empower the Team. ...
  7. Stay Authentic. ...
  8. Present Yourself as Constant and Consistent.

What are the 7 key traits for a good leader? ›

The seven leadership traits that help leaders build influence and trust with their teams are accountability, adaptability, authenticity, communication, compassion, self-awareness, and gratitude. Leaders who continuously develop these traits have high-performance teams of highly engaged and motivated employees.

What are the 3 most important qualities of a great leader? ›

If you want to become an effective and inspiring head of your team, focus on honing these three essential leadership qualities.
  • Communication. ...
  • A positive attitude. ...
  • The ability to delegate.

What are the 6 C's traits of a good leader? ›

The 6 c's of inclusive leadership are:
  • Communication. Leaders need to be able to communicate with people from all walks of life. ...
  • Collaboration. Leaders need to be able to work with people from all walks of life. ...
  • Creative problem solving. ...
  • Commitment. ...
  • Courage. ...
  • Cultural competence.

What are the four 4 traits of successful leadership? ›

Effective leaders are competent, skilled, secure, and considerate. These leaders find time for everyone; they are genuine and authentic in their communications and actions. People matter to them, and they openly demonstrate this fact to their employees.

What makes a great leader? ›

What Makes A Good Leader? 10 Essential Qualities To Learn
  • They communicate clearly. ...
  • They're passionate about their work. ...
  • They don't care about being popular. ...
  • They keep their minds open. ...
  • They work for their employees. ...
  • They're positive and encouraging. ...
  • They respect others. ...
  • They build relationships.

What are the 7 C's of a leader? ›

The Social Change Model of Leadership based on seven dimensions, or values, called the “Seven C's”: consciousness of self, congruence, commitment, common purpose, controversy with civility, collaboration, and citizenship. All seven values work together to accomplish the transcendent “C” of change.

What are the 14 trait of leadership? ›

The precursor to the Marine Corps' 14 Leadership Traits (Bearing, Courage, Decisiveness, Dependability, Endurance, Enthusiasm, Initiative, Integrity, Judgment, Justice, Knowledge, Loyalty, Tact, and Unselfishness) originally appeared in the Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 22-1 “Leadership” in 1948.

What are 3 skills for strong leadership? ›

Valuable leadership skills include the ability to delegate, inspire and communicate effectively. Other leadership traits include honesty, confidence, commitment and creativity.

What makes a good leader in the workplace? ›

What Makes an Effective Leader. Effective leaders have the ability to communicate well, motivate their team, handle and delegate responsibilities, listen to feedback, and have the flexibility to solve problems in an ever-changing workplace.

What are leadership qualities 11? ›

Top 11 Qualities Of A Good Leader
  • Think about some of the most influential leaders in your life. They could be family members, mentors, co-workers, celebrities or even historical figures. ...
  • What is Leadership? ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Confidence. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Accountability. ...
  • Transparency. ...
  • Delegation.
Apr 29, 2021

What are the four C's of leadership? ›

The importance of the four C's in leadership: Candor, Commitment, Courage and Competence are necessary to maintain strong and effective soldiers. A reflection of a good leader shows in his followers.

What are the 4 A's of leadership? ›

We as leaders must constantly be Aligned, Accountable, Authentic, and Aware.

What are the 4 pillars of positive leadership? ›

The 4 P's of positive leadership are Psychological Safety, Purpose, Path, and Progress.

What is the 7 most common leadership style? ›

The seven primary leadership styles are: (1) Autocratic, (2) Authoritative, (3) Pace-Setting, (4) Democratic, (5) Coaching, (6) Affiliative, (7) Laissez-faire.

What is the greatest strength of a leader? ›

  1. Self-awareness. ...
  2. Situational awareness. ...
  3. Excellent communication skills. ...
  4. Effective negotiation skills. ...
  5. Conflict resolution skills. ...
  6. Collaboration skills and intercultural sensitivity. ...
  7. Ability to work with different personal styles and approaches. ...
  8. Being able to make courageous or difficult decisions.

What is your strength as a leader? ›

These usually include the likes of brutal honesty, effective delegating skills, commitment to the job, creativity, a positive attitude and, perhaps most importantly, the self-belief that you have what it takes. These are, without a doubt, essential when it comes to good management.

What is the number one rule of leadership? ›

“First rule of leadership: everything is your fault.” Hopper, A Bugs Life.

What are the 7 importance of leadership? ›

Seven important leadership qualities that help leaders build influence and trust with team members are accountability, adaptability, authenticity, good communication, compassion, self-awareness, and flexibility. These qualities enable leaders to forge strong connections that result in exceptional performance.

What is the best leadership style? ›

The democratic leadership style is one of the most effective because it encourages everyone to participate in all processes, share their opinions, and know that you will hear them. It also encourages employees to be engaged because they know you will hear their feedback.

What are the three 3 C's of an effective leader? ›

Competence, commitment and character -- three equal, but required traits -- none more important than the other. Leadership is both an art and science, and requires practice to hone, but mastering the three "C's" will provide a strong foundation upon which to grow.

What personality should a good leader have? ›

A good leader should have integrity, self-awareness, courage, respect, empathy, and gratitude. They should be learning agile and flex their influence while communicating and delegating effectively. See how these key leadership qualities can be learned and improved at all levels of your organization.

What are 5 of the top 10 leadership qualities? ›

The Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader
  • Strategic & Critical Thinking. ...
  • Interpersonal Communication. ...
  • Authenticity & Self-Awareness. ...
  • Open-Mindedness & Creativity. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Responsibility & Dependability. ...
  • Patience & Tenacity. ...
  • Continuous Improvement.

What are the 12 principles of leadership? ›

here are 12 principles crucial to helping your team get to a common goal:
  • Leads by example. Good managers, leaders and supervisors lead by example. ...
  • Takes responsibility. ...
  • Listens actively. ...
  • Innovates. ...
  • Communicates. ...
  • Embraces change. ...
  • Makes everyone feel important. ...
  • Promotes a diverse work environment.
Sep 30, 2022

What are the three keys to be a leader? ›

Intelligence, relevant business and professional knowledge, experience and skills.

What are the three core values of leadership? ›

Core values of a leader make for great leadership

Vision. Communication. Reinforcement and influence.

Who is a good leader example? ›

List of examples of good leaders
  • Mahatma Gandhi – The World's Most Influential Anti-War Leader. ...
  • Martin Luther King Jr — Celebrated Civil Rights Activist. ...
  • Nelson Mandela – A Freedom Fighter. ...
  • Winston Churchill – A Steadfast Leader. ...
  • Walt Disney – The Participatory Leader. ...
  • Colin Powell – A Situational Leader.
Apr 1, 2023

What do employers look for in a team leader? ›

When hiring a team leader, employers look for excellent leadership skills, good communication skills, approachability, conflict management, and resolution skills. A strong sense of integrity and the ability to innovate and inspire are also preferred in candidates aspiring to become team leaders.

What is the mindset of a team lead? ›

A leadership mindset involves having certain attitudes, beliefs and expectations that create the foundation of who you are, how you lead others and how you interact with and influence your colleagues. This mindset is important to hone because it is the driving component of everything you do within your job.

What are 5 things effective leaders do? ›

Implement these five tips to become the leader others are proud to follow.
  • Prepare to win. New team members need to understand where they fit in the organization. ...
  • Correct mistakes immediately. Never let problems go unaddressed. ...
  • Make your team a priority. ...
  • Encourage communication. ...
  • Reward success and discipline failure.
Mar 6, 2017

What makes a strong team leader? ›

A good team leader possesses a combination of qualities, such as effective communication skills, strong ethics, empathy, technical expertise, and the ability to inspire employees. They create a positive work environment, maintain team morale, and establish healthy working relationships with their team members.

What are the 6 important leadership skills? ›

The 8 key leadership skills you need to know:
  • Relationship building.
  • Agility and adaptability.
  • Innovation and creativity.
  • Employee motivation.
  • Decision-making.
  • Conflict management.
  • Negotiation.
  • Critical Thinking.

What are the hard skills of team leader? ›

9 Essential Team Leader Skills Needed To Build A Strong Team
  • Efficient Problem Solving Skills. Having problem-solving skills is entailed in the job description of a team leader. ...
  • Effective Communication Skills. ...
  • Expert In Delegating Tasks. ...
  • Mediator. ...
  • Reward Achievements. ...
  • Integrity. ...
  • Respects Team Members. ...
  • Positive Attitude.
Apr 27, 2023

How can a team leader motivate their team? ›

Highly motivating leaders…
  1. Share a common vision and purpose. ...
  2. Set clear goals and expectations. ...
  3. Encourage employee self-development. ...
  4. Provide opportunities for collaboration. ...
  5. Foster healthy workplaces. ...
  6. Give positive feedback and reward hard work. ...
  7. Communicate effectively with employees.
Jan 6, 2023


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