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Everyone aspires to be a leader and to get there, they need to ask what they need to be an effective leader. Previously on this blog, I discussed the differences between leadership and management, and it’s worth remembering that leadership is a key coordination process that enables people to work together as a high-performing team. As a leader, you need to be a strong catalyst for team morale, performance, and well-being. Not only that, but you also have the responsibility of being a positive influence on those who are asked to follow you. 

Leadership requires a substantial degree of self-awareness, including awareness of personal limitations. There’s still a general lack of understanding as to the qualities truly needed to lead effectively and unlock a team’s potential, but the attributes covered below are four essential qualities to being an effective leader. 

Technical Expertise

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be the world’s foremost expert on something, but you will only be able to guide your team to better decisions if you have technical expertise in the relevant area. Domain-specific knowledge and technical expertise will give you credibility and enable you to leverage other people’s knowledge in the best way. 


Research has shown that integrity is a core quality of job performance in any area of competence, including leadership. Although everyone may feel like they have integrity, the best way to assess it is how others view you rather than the way you see yourself. As it turns out, managers and leaders that are seen as honest and ethical by their subordinates tend to be rather boring, according to the Harvard Business Review. Their high levels of self-control lead to them being predictable, well-organized, and reliable. 

Learning Ability 

The ability to learn more plays a key role in being an effective leader, especially when knowledge and expertise become quickly outdated and the complexity of problems is continuously increasing. Curiosity and an openness to experience play an important part in learning and developing because curious people are more open to negative feedback. Effective leaders are able to help people of diverse backgrounds and psychological mindsets get along and work together as a unit, but this will only happen if the leader is capable of taking embracing different perspectives and values. 

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is heralded as a key to success, but while celebrated, the idea is often misunderstood. In essence, however, people that are more emotionally intelligent tend to be more rewarding to deal with because they are more stable, empathetic, and better at understanding others, especially when they are different. 

These qualities enable people to lead more effectively, but even so, few leaders have the whole set of attributes described here. Even if you only have a couple of the traits listed here, you are still in a good place to develop the others and build on your potential as a leader.