The Top 5 Intellectual Qualities of a Great Leader
There are good leaders, and there are great leaders. The question becomes: what are the traits of good leaders vs. great leaders?
You might not believe that there’s much difference between a good leader and a great leader, but there is. The attributes of a great leader aren’t always inherent to the individual. Not everyone known as a great leader was a natural at leading; like most things, it takes practice.
Sure, some people may already possess many intellectual leader traits, but these traits can be taught and learned. And yes, you can develop great leaders within your organization.
Are you curious about the top intellectual qualities of a great leader?
Do you want to find out how you can transform your leaders from good to great?
Keep reading to learn the top five qualities of a great leader and the best way to develop your organization’s leadership.
The Top 5 Leadership Traits of a Great Leader
More than five qualities make up a great leader, but we decided to highlight some key traits to look for and develop. Different industries require leaders with varying skillsets, but some leadership traits are common across all workplace sectors.
Here are the top five intellectual qualities of a great leader.
1. Emotional Intelligence
All great leaders are very emotionally intelligent.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of others. Emotionally intelligent leaders know how to handle feelings and express them constructively in a work environment.
For example, an emotionally intelligent leader may experience frustrations with a particular organizational process. Instead of letting frustration lead them to quit or lash out at a colleague, they’ll channel that frustration into problem-solving.
Additionally, a leader with emotional intelligence can pick up on their employees’ negative emotions. They know how to talk with employees, empathize with them, and help them develop a way to move forward positively.
Great leaders don’t give up easily—they persevere. When faced with a problem or issue, a great leader will work tirelessly to find the right solution. They won’t let anything get in their way of achieving goals or seeing a vision come to life for the team or organization’s greater good.
A great leader will persist amidst difficulties in personal work, team relationships, financial hardships, etc. They remain steadfast in their beliefs and convictions until they accomplish the task. And if they can’t get to the end goal, they’ll persevere to find a workaround, a different process, or another solution.
But great leaders won’t persevere at the expense of their employees. They’ll strive alongside teammates, looking for ways to bring employees along in the process. When employees see a leader persevering, it can encourage employees to do the same.
Anyone can stay positive and encouraged when things are going well, but only great leaders can remain optimistic when things go downhill (or uphill, since it’s harder to push a stone up a hill, but you get the picture).
Being positive doesn’t mean that great leaders don’t recognize hardship or difficulty. Instead, in the face of adversity, they don’t let fear, anxiety, or worry get the best of them (one of the behaviors of an emotionally intelligent leader).
Great leaders can recognize negative emotions and choose to stay positive and hopeful, using difficulty as fuel for perseverance.
Regardless of the situation, a great leader remains steadfast amid difficulty. No matter the circumstance, they can uplift team members and keep everyone moving forward. Their positivity will be infectious, creating a supportive company culture, and will promote an upbeat attitude in other team members.
Another one of the top intellectual qualities of a leader is authenticity.
Authenticity is openly being who you are at all times without compromising. Great leaders are authentic leaders. They openly communicate their values, act on their values, and stay committed to their values. A genuine leader’s true mark is when their employees know their values and expectations without needing to ask.
An authentic leader won’t compromise on integrity. They’ll stand for honesty and justice when it’s inconvenient. Authentic leaders are respectful of employees, they don’t show partiality, and are consistent in their decision-making.
Additionally, an authentic leader will own up to their mistakes. They won’t make excuses or blame others for what goes wrong. Authentic leaders openly admit faults and then humbly work to make them right.
Last, but not least, being a visionary is one of the common attributes of great leaders.
Great leaders set the vision and keep themselves (and others) on track to achieve it. Strong visionary leaders are equally strategic, meaning they don’t swerve off course or get distracted with non-essentials. They have a plan of action and invite others to join in.
A key component to vision-minded leaders is their ability to encourage their team to continue in the right direction. They trust their employees to do their roles and don’t try to micro-manage every task. If an employee does come across a problem or issue, the leader helps the employee solve it and keep the team moving toward the vision.
Vision-minded leaders are like conductors of an orchestra. They have the master music sheet and direct the other musicians’ timing, but they don’t try to play all the instruments themself. A vision-minded leader knows the end objective, gives his employees tracks to run on, and keeps the team moving toward the final destination.
Develop Qualities of a Great Leader in Your Employees
Now you know the answers to both questions: “What are the traits of a good leader?” and “What are the attributes of a great leader?”
Great intellectual leaders don’t know everything and do everything themself. Instead, they possess certain qualities that allow them to handle a work environment’s challenges while elevating those around them.
- Have high emotional intelligence.
- Persevere through difficulty.
- Stay positive despite adverse circumstances.
- Are authentic in their words and actions.
- Don’t lose sight of the vision.
Rarely are these intellectual qualities of a leader completely innate. Most great leaders may be naturally strong in some areas but need training in others. Take your leadership development seriously and promote great over good.
Are you interested in raising great leaders in your organization?
Corporate Leadership and Development Training
Unboxed Training & Technology can help! We’re ready to offer expert advice and help you build a leadership program that trains great leaders to support your organization. Our customized leadership training will resource your managers with the knowledge and training they need to become modern leaders.
Here is a short list of the benefits you can expect from leadership training:
- Leaders gaining greater confidence in achieving expected results
- Reduced employee turnover
- Double-digit YOY revenue growth
- Increased training satisfaction rates among managers
A customized leadership training program will elevate your leaders (and your organization) to step up and raise others with them. Request a demo of our custom leadership training and download your free leadership training checklist.