When We Think of a Great Leader…


When I think of a great leader… [fill in the blank]

There have been moments in my career where I just knew that my manager or even a colleague had it dialed in. They were really good at leading while others may not have had that “it” factor. So what differentiates one from another. And can one learn and then actually exemplify good leadership qualities or must the qualities be innate. In this post, let’s the focus be on what we as individuals believe to be good leadership qualities.

From Your Perspective

Let’s not discuss what the best leadership qualities are based on other’s ideas. Let’s not speak of the latest and greatest leadership model or the trending book written on the topic. Instead, let’s share what it means to each of us as individuals. In other words, what I believe the best leadership qualities are may not resonate with you and what you need in a leader. What is it that makes you stop and think…that was good leadership.

Here are some of the leadership qualities that are important to me. Please weigh in and let us know what is important to you.

Traits of a Leader (what matters to me)

Being Present

Leaders must be in the moment and engaged. In a previous post, I shared about a former manager who invited me to lunch but was on the phone most of the time. Many of you may have also experienced this. Although I knew it was that person and not me, it still made me feel under-appreciated. Being there for your staff goes a long way.

Supportive of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Many throw these terms around but a good leader will adopt this wholeheartedly and not just because someone ask them to do so. A great example of a company living and breathing the EDI philosophy is Cummins. Check them out here: https://www.cummins.com/company/esg/social/diversity

Vision, Mission, and Value Focused

Although this may be an old standard, it builds the foundation. When a good leader has outlined this as a foundation and has effectively communicated it, others will join in. However a great leader holds his workforce accountable all the while setting excellent examples.

Integrity & Ethics

Having integrity and ethics as a leader are top qualities on my list. Period.


It would be remiss of me if I didn’t say effective communication was a key trait in a true leader and very important to me. I sometimes jokingly use the phrase, “Can’t you hear what I’m thinking?” Meaning, I may have it in my head but have not shared it verbally. Great leaders effectively communicate so that all involved may understand the direction of the company, changes in strategy, urgency or priorities needed, or whatever the topic may be.

There may be other attributes that come to mind. What is important is that when confronted with a situation with sub-par leaders with no end in sight, never sacrifice your career. Make a conscious decision to transition when up against poor leadership. Making these difficult decisions will continue providing you the opportunity to be the good leader that others admire.

Working with Universities, Industry, and Students together we invest funding and resources in industry sectors that are key to America’s economic growth. The Kolena Group explores the equitable and meaningful work-based learning activities embedded in a students Orchastrated Career Transformation. This alignment ensures students graduate college and career ready to become entrepreneurs or business operators since they are so critical to the economic development as contributors to innovation and new job growth. The integrated programs of study below connect the dots between what students are learning and how they will use those skills in a future career.

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