What Are the Characteristics of a Good Leader?

Leaders shape our nation, communities, and organizations.

We need good leaders to help guide us and make the essential large-scale decisions that keep the world moving.

Our society is usually quick to identify a bad leader, but how to identify a good one? What would most people say makes a good leader?

The Characteristics of a Good Leader

Based upon research, great leaders consistently possess these 10 traits:

  • honesty
  • ability to delegate
  • communication
  • sense of humor
  • confidence
  • commitment
  • positive attitude
  • creativity
  • ability to inspire
  • intuition

While many powerful and successful leaders have not exhibited all of these character traits, and the definition of a good leader is quite ambiguous, most good leaders do leverage at least some of these characteristics.

Take someone you view as a great leader – how many of these characteristics do they express?

If the characteristics of a good leader above do not describe you, there are ways for you to improve upon your leadership capabilities. Many say leaders are born not made, but we feel that is far from the truth. (See Are Leaders Born or Made?)

Andrew Graham, CEO of Forum Corp, notes “If you do not see these signs in yourself, fear not. It is all about getting…over the neurological hurdles that hold you back from being a great leader.”

Leaders are molded through experience, continued study, and adaptation. Consider these 6 Ways to Succeed as a Leader:



Like any craft, leadership requires you to learn from your mistakes and continually work at strengthening areas in which you’re weak. Seek out a mentor that you admire as a leader. Jot down the characteristics that you feel makes them a great leader – how do you compare?

Chances are, they weren’t always a great leader, so determine what they did along the way to be the leader they are today.

Do you feel good leaders can be made?  What characteristics do you feel make a good leader?

This article has been updated but was originally published in April 2013.

6 thoughts on “What Are the Characteristics of a Good Leader?

  1. I like the list, especially the “sense of humor” area.

    In past times I found that I have over relied on this sense of humor and it has even gotten me into trouble.

    It is amazing how a little humor can lighten a mood or defuse a tense situation.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. A wonderful list of characterstics of a good leader however, I would like to add a few more such as

    A good leader makes his/her team members valued

    A Contributor and Co-orperates with a letter “C”

    A good Listener

    and off course a great practitioner of Work-Life Balance

    Yes, what can not be done in the world of technology today. We could develop our leadership skills by sharing new mindsets of Good Characterstics of A GOOD LEADER that you have enlisted above.

    Let’s spread this message to all existing leaders and who inspire to be a Leader to make this world of ours a more Living plannet than a Killing plannet full of wars. Let’s spread “Tolerance” Love” and “Care for our sake and our generations to come…..


    Ayaz Mahmood

  3. Development of courageous, visionary, and inspirational leaders must begin with our young people. Mr Chris Salamone, who has formerly served as a faculty member at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and served as a leadership curriculum adviser at The University of Central Oklahoma is CEO of Lead America which is most respected youth leadership organizations with an unwavering commitment to quality and excellence in their academic offerings. The organization focuses on Leadership development, experiential career education & study abroad programs for high achieving high school and middle school students. Chris Salamone works to improve the lives of young people around the world through his many philanthropic endeavors. Mission is to ‘inspire and empower our young people to achieve their full potential and instill in them a sense of purpose, integrity, self confidence, and personal responsibility.’ This is achieved through engaging students (high school for most programs and middle school for a few) in conferences that combine challenging academics with hands-on experiential learning.

  4. The image of President Abraham Lincoln is just such an example of all the characteristics listed in the article. What an amazing man not only for his time, but for all of us who came after him.

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