The 7 attributes that separates great leaders from the rest

Just because someone holds a position of leadership doesn't necessarily mean they should. Not all leaders are created equal, and many organisations can't seem to tell the difference between a great leader and a bad one.  

“We’ve witnessed many leaders display poor leadership so it’s crucial to identify what it takes to become a better leader,” David Pich, author and chief executive of IML ANZ, one of Australia’s oldest professional membership-based organisations, told MPA. 

Last year, Pich and his team asked over 10,000 members of the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand to rank 35 leadership traits they think matter the most. His team then picked the top seven, and they are:  

Respect. With today’s workplace reflecting today’s society, respect is increasingly playing a vital role in organisational performance and leadership success. Leaders should master working alongside people from various nationalities and cultures. 

Integrity. The Institute’s membership views integrity as the single most important attribute of effective leadership. One can’t be inspired by a leader who’s not trustworthy.

Emotional Intelligence. This is the ability to empathise with others and adjust one’s emotions and feelings to situations. 

Ability to inspire. Employees today want a lot more out of their roles than just a paycheck — they want to be involved in something worthwhile. Leaders must inspire their staff and foster engagement.   

Authenticity. It’s more than being yourself. Sitting at the very heart of self-discovery and change, authenticity is about being real. And the reality is every person needs to improve.

Self-awareness. It’s not enough for leaders to know their strengths and weaknesses; they should strive to become better. This separates great leadership from good leadership.

Decisiveness. At the Institute, leaders actively taking ownership of their leadership journey is called “leading with intent”. It’s weighing options coming from volumes of data and deciding which is the right one for their team and business.     

Pich said that whilst they are not meant to be exhaustive, the seven attributes provide “a pretty decent launching pad for analysing what exactly it is that makes a great leader”.

“Such a leader must understand the interplay between all these attributes because they cannot effectively lead by just relying on one,” he added. “Because before a manager or leader can think about their ability to inspire, they absolutely need to have their integrity down pat.”