Leadership Qualities

100 Leadership Qualities: Which Do You Recognize in Yourself?

There’s an entire industry of books and seminars founded on the assumption that if you just learn the right set skills and behaviors, you’ll be a leader (though which skills those are, few seem to agree on). I’m here to tell you there’s an easier way: pay attention to your existing leadership qualities.

I’ve spent over two decades helping women develop their leadership skills, and I’m honored that 100,000 professional women have dedicated time to their development by attending my workshops, webinars, and coaching programs. Along the way, I’ve seen how easy it is to get bogged down on the path to realizing our leadership potential. I frequently watch women be unaware of how much they already are a leader. Their internal monologue whispers, “But I’m not a leader yet,” when in fact they have bucketloads of leadership ability.

Claiming your value starts with understanding where your power comes from, and one of the best things you can do for your self-development is to identify all of the ways in which you are already a leader.

Here’s a list of 100 leadership qualities crowdsourced from 1,200 of my workshop participants, followed by a simple exercise you can use to uncover your signature leadership strengths. (Download a printable list here.)

100 Leadership Qualities

A leader is someone who:

1.    Sees the big picture

2.    Thinks strategically

3.    Focuses on the future

4.    Sets the vision

5.    Sets the direction

6.    Displays a strong business acumen

7.    Strives for continuous improvement

8.    Sees a cross-functional, cross-organizational view

9.    Thinks critically

10.  Focuses on the customer

11.  Possesses strong interpersonal skills

12.  Communicates with transparency

13.  Sends clear messages

14.  Speaks in an impactful way

15.  Delivers effective speaking presentations

16.  Gives open, honest, and direct feedback

17.  Listens to understand

18.  Asks the right questions at the right time

19.  Manages crises and conflict with ease

20.  Breaks down complex information in simple terms

21.  Interacts comfortably with people at all levels

22.  Stays positive and constructive during difficult conversations

23.  Finds middle ground and a path forward

24.  Goes above and beyond

25.  Focuses on results

26.  Likes to succeed

27.  Drives results

28.  Gets things done

29.  Embraces and leads change

30.  Acts decisively

31.  Stays goal-oriented and solution focused

32.  Makes decisions in times of ambiguity

33.  Completes difficult tasks despite obstacles

34.  Exudes energy and determination

35.  Pushes for what she believes in

36.  Embodies a positive attitude

37.  Has tenacity and curiosity

38.  Strives to accomplish what she commits to doing

39.  Takes ownership

40.  Takes charge and assumes responsibility

41.  Sets high standards

42.  Has excellent organizational skills

43.  Takes risks

44.  Is fearless

45.  Exudes honesty and dependability

46.  Wins trust

47.  Earns respect

48.  Collaborates

49.  Operates with integrity and fairness

50.  Has a thirst for learning

51.  Shares know-how

52.  Shows empathy

53.  Is supportive and caring

54.  Stays calm in difficult situations

55.  Possesses leadership presence

56.  Leads by example

57.  Serves as a role model

58.  Stands up for she believes in

59.  Is an influencer

60.  Inspires and empowers others

61.  Motivates others during times of uncertainty

62.  Influences without authority

63.  Works across functions to get things done

64.  Manages up, down, and across

65.  Engages differing points of view

66.  Builds teams and fosters teamwork

67.  Instills a sense of community

68.  Adapts her message to the environment

69.  Rallies people to achieve a common goal

70.  Creates a shared sense of purpose

71.  Relates work to the organization’s goals

72.  Motivates people and aligns them around team goals

73.  Ensures team spirit is upbeat

74.  Builds collaborative teams

75.  Inspires people to act and move toward goals

76.  Delegates

77.  Sets clear expectations

78.  Trusts others to do their jobs without micromanaging

79.  Enables others to be successful

80.  Removes obstacles from a team’s path

81.  Gives positive and constructive feedback

82.  Allows people to learn from mistakes

83.  Develops strong talent

84.  Mentors, coaches, and develops people

85.  Empowers others

86.  Provides people with the tools and autonomy to get things done

87.  Acts as a strong advocate for those she manages and mentors

88.  Gives credit where it is due

89.  Celebrates others’ achievements

90.  Rewards good performance

91.  Creates opportunities for visibility

92.  Attributes successes to those who contributed

93.  Builds up team members and helps them grow

94.  Understands the motivations of others to inspire them in their work

95.  Identifies and utilizes others’ strengths

96.  Encourages others to do their best

97.  Cares about the well-being of the team

98.  Enjoys seeing others succeed

99.  Brings out the best in people

100.Helps others shine

You can download the list as a printable PDF here.


Step 1: Read back over the list of 100 qualities with a more deliberate focus. Highlight all of the characteristics you recognize in yourself.

Step 2: Focusing on your strengths and innate leadership style, select 3 qualities you’d most like to own and be known for 12 months from today. It might help to group similar qualities (such as “Sets the vision” and “Sets the direction”) into one category.

Or share this list with a handful people who know you well. Ask: “Which three qualities best describe my leadership strengths?”

Step 3: Write down your three leadership strengths and put them somewhere where you’ll see them as a daily reminder. Look for everyday actions you can take to own the heck out of these three qualities.

Developing as a leader is not about changing yourself. It’s about becoming yourself. When you emulate someone else’s style, you cancel out your own. You feel like an imposter, and that’s no way to lead boldly and effectively.

Think of these key attributes as a platform from which you can lead, rise, and thrive—without selling out your soul. As you learn and grow, stay anchored in these strengths, and what you can uniquely contribute as a leader. Give yourself permission to show up as you are and grow from there.

Adapted from Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive (McGraw-Hill) by Jo Miller.

This post first appeared at Forbes.com.

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