100 Leadership Strengths

Which of these have you mastered, and which would you like to improve on?

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100 leadership strengths

What are your leadership strengths?

That’s a question I ask in a survey that participants complete before attending my “Poised for Leadership” workshop.  As I prepare for a session, one of my favorite activities is to read each groups’ responses and compile the highlights, a leadership qualities list on a slide titled, “A leader is someone who…”

The answers, of course, vary tremendously. The world is full of leadership books and gurus, and they all have their own definition of what it takes to lead.

Instead of overwhelming my workshop participants with one more definition, I prefer to share their thoughts on the subject. While most attendees aren’t yet in management or technical leadership roles (though they aspire to be), I’ve found that their collective response paints a remarkably inspiring and detailed picture of leadership at its best.

On workshop day, I read them the list, letting them know, “This is what being a leader means to you.”

Here’s the 100 leadership qualities list, compiled from 20 recent workshops. Which of these have you mastered, and which would you like to improve on?

100 Leadership Qualities List

A leader is someone who…

  1. Sees the big picture
  2. Thinks strategically
  3. Focuses on the future
  4. Sets the vision
  5. Displays a strong business acumen
  6. Sets the direction
  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. Breaks down complex information into simple terms
  20. Interacts comfortably with people at all levels
  21. Stays positive and constructive during difficult conversations
  22. Finds middle ground and a path forward
  23. Manages crises and conflict with ease
  24. Goes above and beyond
  25. Focuses on results
  26. Likes to succeed
  27. Drives results
  28. Gets things done
  29. Stays goal-oriented and solution-focused
  30. Acts decisively
  31. Makes decisions in times of ambiguity
  32. Completes difficult tasks despite obstacles
  33. Exudes energy and determination
  34. Pushes for what she or he believes in
  35. Embodies a positive attitude
  36. Has tenacity and curiosity
  37. Strives to accomplish what they commit to doing
  38. Takes ownership
  39. Takes charge and assumes responsibility
  40. Sets high standards
  41. Has excellent organizational and execution skills
  42. Embraces change and course-corrects when needed
  43. Takes risks
  44. Is fearless
  45. Exudes passion, honesty, and dependability
  46. Wins trust
  47. Collaborates
  48. Operates with integrity and fairness
  49. Has a thirst for learning
  50. Shares know-how
  51. Shows empathy
  52. Is supportive and caring
  53. Stays calm in difficult situations
  54. Possesses leadership presence
  55. Leads by example
  56. Serves as a role model
  57. Earns the respect of people at all levels of the organization
  58. Stands up for what they believe 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 the job 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 their 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 to inspire action
  72. Motivates people and aligns them around team goals
  73. Ensures team spirit is upbeat
  74. Builds collaborative teams and guides them to execute on big projects
  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 they manage and mentor
  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

Need a quick burst of leadership inspiration?

Try this exercise:

Step 1: Select ten leadership qualities from this list that best represent the style of leadership you’d like to be known for in the next year.

Step 2: Narrow the list down to the top three leadership qualities that best represent the leadership strengths you’d most like to own and be known for.

It helps to combine any areas that are similar, like 69: Rallies people to achieve a common goal and 70: Creates a shared sense of purpose.

As you do this step, try to focus on your strengths and innate leadership style, rather than having a list of ten areas that are weaknesses. Make sure your list includes at least one item that is an existing strength, and one is a new strength you aspire to develop. Set yourself up for success by selecting those that you feel predisposed to become great at. Leading from your strengths takes a whole lot less energy than twisting yourself into a pretzel, trying to become someone that’s not really you.

Step 3: Write your three qualities on a post-it note and stick it somewhere where you’ll see it daily. Look out for opportunities to practice them this week. If it helps, write up an action plan to develop those qualities.

Bonus step: Show this leadership qualities list to some people who know you well, such as a trusted colleague, mentor or manager. Ask them to identify your top three qualities and share them with you.

Was this useful? What did you discover? What’s your plan to develop these qualities? Post a comment and share!

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