What do great leaders have in common?


Leadership is about so much more than just telling people who to do and how to do it.

Great leaders are few and far between, likely because of the way modern companies are built.

Staff turnover is higher and people are less likely to stay in the same role for years and years. As a result, it’s harder for leaders to build a reputation within a company and to grow with a team. That said, it isn’t impossible to do.

Companies place greater emphasis placed on promoting people before they are ready. Young organisations make the mistake of assuming the title of “manager” will allow people to manage effectively, or the title of “leader” will allow them to lead. In reality, good management and good leadership are about so much more than this. It takes years to become a great leader and not everyone what it takes to achieve this status. Here are six attributes that all great leaders have in common.

They earn trust rather than demand it

No one will follow someone they don’t trust, but trust is something that has to be earned, rather than demanded. Building trust takes time and a genuine understanding of what individual people respond to. Many managers resort to demanding trust by reminding their team that they alone have the final say, but this form of leadership is destined to fail.

If your team see any weaknesses, this will instantly undermine their trust in you. However, if a leader has taken the time to earn the trust of their team, they will be transparent in their approach and build lasting working relationships as a result.

They lead by example

Being a great leader within an organisation means leading by example. If you want your workers to take their work seriously, then you need to take your work seriously. If you want to be trusted to work from home, then your workers should be trusted to work from home. Demanding unreasonable standards from your team without being able to uphold these standards yourself is a surefire way to fail as a leader. Great leaders always lead by example. A common complaint that workers have is that their bosses have no idea how much work they have to do, so a great leader will take the time to get to know their day-to-day struggles and help find ways to make things easier.

They see the individual strengths in people

Treating a team as a group of people instead of individuals with individual goals is a mistake that many poor leaders maker. You might be managing a large team, but failing to get to know the people on that team could lead you to miss out on key opportunities. People love to be able to use their strengths in the workplace, but they don’t want to have to sing their own praises. Instead, people like someone to take interest in them and ask what they would like to work on. This is one of the best ways that great leaders can make the most of their team.

They build a sense of vitality

People need to feel excited about the work they are doing, day in, day out. Great leaders know that it is down to them to create this sense of vitality within the workplace. People need to find a purpose in the work they are doing in order to stay engaged, and great leaders know how to make this happen. For example, a great leader within an event recruitment agency would prioritise finding great new role openings and great new candidates over the actual placements. This is the only way to allow the recruitment team to focus on getting the best possible results instead of just hitting targets.

They are capable of producing extraordinary results

Most of the traits seen above relate to the team and how great leaders can benefit them. For higher management within an organisation, great leaders are often characterised by the extraordinary results they generate. Looking beyond sales targets or other important company metrics, great leaders are able to reduce staff turnover by keeping the team motivated, develop the team by inspiring them with training and create a healthy and happy place to work. All of this adds up to incredible results for the company.

They share their success with others

A common trait of poor leaders is that they like to take credit for everything. They assume responsibility for everything because they see themselves as “in charge”. Great leaders know that nothing would be achievable without the smaller cogs in the machine. It’s through working together that amazing things can happen. In contrast, poor leaders will take credit for their work and the work of others. They will also leverage this success to get a better deal for themselves, such as a pay rise of better benefits. Great leaders will want to see their team rewarded for their hard work and will advocate for everyone below them.