Everyone is familiar with what a leader is. Yet, it’s still difficult to pin down the exact leadership qualities that the very best candidates show. Why do some leaders frustrate their staff, while others naturally excel in this position? Especially considering that 80% of businesses currently believe that leadership is now more important than ever, your company needs to know how to get this right.

In this article, we’ll break down the best leadership qualities, using a handy acrostic to demonstrate exactly which skills all the best leaders have. If you’re one of the 83% of businesses that believe leadership skills must be increased across all levels, this is the article for you.

Let’s jump right in.

Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.

– Peter Drucker 

Why Does Good Leadership Matter?

Leadership is one quality that you can expect to find in almost any business. On some level, the act of even having one employee forces a business to begin to turn toward leadership. From structuring the company to setting work, a leader needs to guide their people toward success.

Three in four employees want their leaders to have effective, transparency communication


Across a range of aspects of the workplace, leadership was selected by 29% of companies as one of their principal concerns and points of interest. Without leaders, a business cannot create forward movement, often leading to stalling before a company has even really begun.

As a company improves how its leaders operate, they’re set to obtain a range of benefits:

  • Motivate the Workforce – As we’ll discuss shortly, workplace apathy is at an all-time high. According to Dr. Milton Mattox, apathy in the workplace can often present as burnout or a genuine disinterest in a project. Leaders help to change this, finding areas where they can excite their teams, motivate and inspire them. A good leader can fight back against apathy, becoming the driving force toward an active and effective workforce.


  • Improve Performance – Leaders that govern by example are hard workers. Their continual efforts have a trickle-down effect, helping to boost the performance of everyone they work with. Following on from increased motivation, leaders can instill a genuine passion for the job, helping everyone to improve their performance without burning out.


  • Decision-Making – When faced with a range of seemingly equally viable options, businesses need someone to step forward and break the tie. That’s where leaders come in. By weighing up all of the options possible, leaders can make tough decisions and keep business running smoothly.

While leadership is important – good leadership is even more vital. Being able to lead in a way that doesn’t step on anyone’s toes is crucial if your executive staff is going to be successful leaders.

What are the Best Leadership Qualities?

After a challenging few years in the workplace, with the pandemic and the full movement to remote work for 26% of the US workforce, leaders need to step up and guide their organizations toward success.

According to a study by Deloitte, businesses believe that what makes a good leader is changing. Currently, the most important quality directly reflects our more turbulent circumstances, with 81% of respondents seeking leaders that can push through complexity and ambiguity.

Leadership qualities that matter according to the Leadership institute. Communication, Authenticity, and Courage are the top three


To paint you a full picture of what makes a leader, let’s break down all the best leadership qualities by using LEADERSHIP as an acrostic.

L = Loyalty

From the Great Resignation to Quiet Qutting, 2022 has been the year of employees leaving their jobs. Whether they’re seeking flexibility, looking for a pay raise, or even just dislike their boss, loyalty is hard to gain and easy to lose.

Almost 15% of all employees have directly left a job because of their boss. Being able to show loyalty to your employees will cultivate loyalty in return. Our first leadership quality is one of the most important. With employee quitting rates at an all-time high, we need to do everything we can to retain top talent.

Employee loyalty starts with effective leadership.

E = Engaging

In 2022, employee engagement is at an all-time low. Currently, only around 34% of employees are engaged with their work, leading to lower rates of productivity, higher employee turnovers, and more burnout at work.

One leadership quality that is almost always overlooked is the ability to be engaging. People don’t want to rally behind a leader that is boring to listen to and doesn’t motivate employees. A great leader will always attempt to inspire and energize their employees.

If you have an engaging leader, you’ll be able to push your employee engagement rates back up, helping to supercharge your business and drive onward toward success.

A = Authenticity

Authenticity and full transparency at work will help to increase people’s interest in their jobs. If a boss seems to be hiding things or being deceitful, there’s a greater chance that employees will start to feel disheartened.

An easy place to start with full authenticity is salary transparency. When Buffer started to publish all of its salaries online, they were flooded with new applicants. People want to work for companies when true authenticity is the norm.

Start with leadership authenticity, and go from there. You’ll be surprised how fantastic this can be for morale.

If you’re looking for an easy way to manage employee salaries, we strongly recommend Gusto. As a cloud-based software, you can easily track, trace, pay, and create payment histories with just the click of a button. Over 100,000 businesses are already using Gusto to automate their payroll services.

D = Dedication

A leader should never expect employees to do more work than they would typically do in a day. If a leader starts to show signs of not pulling their weight, employees will quickly notice and start to feel like they’re being unfairly treated at work.

Leaders should be able to delegate when needed. However, a true leader will always show more dedication to the job than other employees. While it doesn’t have to be quite as literal as first in the door in the morning, last out at night, this certainly could go a long way.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. 

– John C. Maxwell

E = Empathy

Work can be a stressful place for employees. With deadlines, long hours, and time crunches, adding a boss that’s not empathetic to the mix can be a recipe for disaster. At present, nearly 84% of millennial workers have experienced burnout. 73% of millennials work more than 40 hours a week, which accelerates the road to burning out. A great leader is able to identify candidates that need a little extra support, being empathetic to them whenever they need it.

Empathy is one of the most important leadership qualities. Without the ability to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, you may be pushing your employees too hard. Taking a second to check in with them and ensure that everything is going well will go a long way.

R = Respect

Respect is a two-way street. If a leader wants to be respected, they must first respect the people that they’re working with.

A leader that’s too self-involved to realize that business is a team sport will never fully find their footing in this world. All leaders must be respectful and work well with their employees.

S = Servanthood

Servanthood, or the willingness to do something for others, is another important leadership quality. A leader shouldn’t give out tasks that they’re unwilling to do themselves.

Being able to take tasks off your employees’ plates and make their day easier will result in a lot of appreciation. A good leader helps where they’re needed, driving progress on every level of the business.

If you’re looking for a way to better serve your workforce, be sure you’ve got the best HR tools on hand. We recommend TriNet, which offers a full-service HR solution for SMBs.

H = Humanity

Leading through fear or cruelty is an outdated practice that is heavily frowned upon in the world of business. While a leader might have more relative power in a company when compared to those directly under them, that doesn’t mean they should usurp this power in any way.

The past few years have been difficult for us all. The leadership quality of humanity is now more important than ever. Take time to listen to your employees, chat with them about their days, and ensure that they’re happy in their current roles.

If you see someone struggling at work, don’t take it badly. Try to understand the additional pressures on your employees and find a way to help if you can.

76% of employees describe their bosses as toxic, and 75% say their boss is the most stressful part of the job. Statistics that demonstrate the importance of good leadership qualities in the workplace

I = Integrity

Leaders should be trustworthy and honorable people. While often overlooked out of the leadership qualities we’ve selected, integrity is one that cuts right to the core of who someone is. A leader should have strong moral principles and always attempt to do the right thing.

Especially in the world of business, the morally correct route isn’t always going to be the decision that a company would like to opt for. Leaders need to have the integrity to know when enough is enough. As a voice of reason, they need to be able to stand up for what’s right and set a clear example for all of their employees.

Showing clear morals can also help keep your employees in your business for longer. 77% of employees that know and relate to what a leader stands for will stay at the company for at least one full year.

P = Perseverance

As a leader, you’re often exposed to more bad news than anyone else at a company. Not only do you have your own goals to account for, but you’re also in the line of fire if anything goes wrong on your team. Due to this, it can be a mentally draining role to take on.

Instead of giving up when things get tough, a great leadership quality to turn to is perseverance. Being able to weather the storm and keep pushing – both for yourself and for all of your team members – is vital for success in this role.

If you have leaders that can persevere, you’re much more likely to have a company that strives for success.

Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.

– BIll Bradley

Final Thoughts on the Best Leadership Qualities

Operating as a leader in the 21st century means adapting to modern contexts and providing comprehensive solutions. There is no one way to be a leader, but there are several qualities that all the best leaders have.

We’ve moved through the ten aspects of what makes a leader, demonstrating exactly how your business can create leaders of the future. Focus on training and placing emphasis on these leadership qualities, and your organization will be ready to step into a new era of excellent top-down management.