What Makes a Great Leader: Characteristics and Traits to Look for

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Great leaders are essential to the success of any organization or team. Whether in the workplace, community, or government, their ability to motivate, inspire, and guide others towards a shared goal is crucial. But what qualities and traits make a leader great? Are they innate or can they be developed? In this blog post, we’ll explore what makes a great leader and provide examples of leaders who epitomize these characteristics and traits.

1. Visionary and Purpose-Driven

A great leader must have a clear vision for the future and a purpose that motivates them and others towards that goal. They communicate this vision and purpose effectively, inspiring and uniting their team behind it. A great leader also has the ability to adapt and pivot when necessary in order to achieve their mission. An example of a visionary and purpose-driven leader is Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, who seeks to revolutionize transportation and human life on Mars.

2. Empathetic and Transparent

Great leaders understand the needs and concerns of their team and stakeholders, and they listen and respond with empathy and transparency. They build trust and foster a culture of openness, where ideas and feedback are valued and acted upon. They also take responsibility for their actions and decisions, and communicate honestly when things go wrong. An example of an empathetic and transparent leader is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, who has made culture and empathy core principles of his leadership.

3. Innovative and Risk-Taking

A great leader is not afraid to think outside the box, challenge the status quo, and take calculated risks. They encourage creativity and experimentation, and are willing to try new approaches and technologies to achieve their goals. They also learn from failure and use it as a stepping stone to success. An example of an innovative and risk-taking leader is Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who has disrupted multiple industries through his bold and experimental approach.

4. Authentic and Inspirational

Great leaders are who they are, and they inspire others through their authenticity and passion. They lead by example and create a positive and motivating environment that encourages personal and professional growth. They also recognize and celebrate the achievements of their team and give credit where credit is due. An example of an authentic and inspirational leader is Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, who has gained global recognition for her compassionate and decisive leadership during crises.

5. Collaborative and Inclusive

A great leader understands the value of diversity and inclusivity, and works to create a collaborative and inclusive environment where everyone’s perspectives are heard and respected. They build strong relationships with their team and stakeholders, and foster a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. They also recognize and address conflicts and differences in a constructive and respectful manner. An example of a collaborative and inclusive leader is Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, who has emphasized the importance of solidarity and cooperation among member states during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Being a great leader is not easy, but it’s a skill that can be developed and honed. Vision, purpose, empathy, transparency, innovation, authenticity, inspiration, collaboration, and inclusivity are some of the key characteristics and traits that make a leader great. Whether you’re a CEO, a manager, a teacher, or a volunteer, you can strive to adopt and embody these qualities in your leadership. By doing so, you can help create a better world for yourself and others.

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