Top unexpected leadership qualities you didn’t know you needed


In the business world, a leader is much more than just a “boss” or “manager”. Business leaders get people to work with them, not for them, inspiring their employees, making key decisions, and being accountable for the team’s failings. Without leaders, companies would lack strategic drive and progress.

If you aspire to be a leader, there are certain characteristics you’ll need to succeed. While attributes like good organisation, the ability to galvanize, and impeccable communication skills are commonly associated with great leadership, there is a range of unexpected qualities you might not be harnessing.


Your role is to encourage, and get the best from, those around you, and this certainly requires self-confidence. However, it’s important to blend this with a healthy dose of humility. Although you are responsible for your team, you shouldn’t take sole credit for their success, as this is bound to cause resentment. You need to celebrate and promote the achievements of others as, by recognising them, they’ll appreciate your leadership all the more.

According to leadership advisory firm Egon Zehnder’s “Leaders & Daughters” survey, humility is one of the three most desired qualities in a leader. A separate study of 105 computer software and hardware firms also found that CEOs who demonstrated this value led to better-performing leadership teams, improved collaboration, and companies sharing a vision for the future. So, being a humble leader is not only good for team spirit, but can help to elevate your company’s performance to new heights.


Similarly, the ability to be self-reflexive is vital to being a good leader. You could be sincere, skilful, and driven, but if you can’t recognise areas where you have room for improvement, you will never evolve as a leader. After all, nobody is perfect. Indeed, one study found that those who spent just fifteen minutes each day reflecting on what they had learned performed 23% better after 10 days of doing this than those who did not. Self-reflection gives you the opportunity to analyse your observations and experiences, and think about what you can take from them to improve the situation next time.

In the context of leadership, you should consider whether you’re helping your colleagues reach their goals, whether you’re contributing to difficult work relationships, and how you can improve your own performance overall. This can be done by either writing your thoughts in a journal or talking things over with a friend or colleague outside of your department. Be sure to regularly set time aside to do this, and make the effort to act on your findings.

A sense of humour

That’s right, even your sense of humour can impact the quality of your leadership. Statistics from Robert Half show that 91% of executives believe that humour is crucial for career advancement, while 84% believe that those with a sense of humour are more competent. And this makes sense, as those who can lighten the mood in even the most stressful situations can seem to be in control, even if they’re not. Not just this, but laughter is one of the best ways to connect with colleagues, build rapport, and create an upbeat company culture.

Of course, there’s a time for joking around and a time to be serious, and certain types of humour are clearly inappropriate for the workplace. So, pick and choose when to mess around, avoid controversial topics which may cause offence or upset someone, and laugh with your colleagues, never at them. If being funny isn’t really your bag, then don’t try to force humour with cheesy one-liners or jokes. Simply ensure that you’re approachable, and do your best to demonstrate that you don’t always take things too seriously.

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