By Laurie Cure

We hear it all the time in our work. Great leaders who, through their words, actions and very being, are gifted at building trust, promoting psychological safety, and building confidence in others. 

It’s long been known, and research supports, that people do not leave organizations—they leave leaders. So, the question then becomes,  what does it take to be a great leader?

There are many skills that are needed to make a good leader. Studies have shown that emotional intelligence, especially self-awareness, reflection and a keen sense of discernment are among the most important skills for good leaders. Additionally, leaders who listen well, address conflict, and read others well are the ones who develop relationships that lead to performance. Being a great leader also requires skills like humility, compassion, gratitude, and more. 

Are you a great leader? Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  1. Share credit with other team members?
  2. Give strong feedback that is both direct and compassionate?
  3. Admit and share your mistakes openly while learning from them? 
  4. Engage others in conversations that matter?
  5. Recognize and appreciate others actively and regularly?

As an individual, and as a leader, many of the issues you face and the successes you experience reflect the level of trust you have established and maintained. Leaders who encourage their teams to take smart risks, make mistakes, are candid with one another, and align with a shared purpose, benefit from a highly developed team that trusts them and one another, and feels safe in assessing many different perspectives that often result in more productive and creative innovations.

Here are some additional traits that great leaders share, they:

  • Focus on everyday behaviors and actions. You’ve heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words.” Pay heed to this as you work to develop trust and relationships. Great leaders know this, and they know that people may hear what they say, but they will remember what they do.
  • Foster a culture of support. They create a clear structure and then allow others the autonomy to work how they work best. They encourage others to openly voice their concerns, while showing support and guiding them toward their own solutions.
  • Keep promises. If they say it, they do it. Nothing erodes trust in a relationship more quickly than broken promises.
  • Show genuine concern for others. Great leaders offer authenticity. When they ask questions, they truly want to know the answers, they listen deeply and care about others, and they know that when they build a relationship like this, their team will respond in-kind. When they show that they value team members individually as a person and show sincerity, their relationships grow. 
  • Respect different perspectives. They have the ability to look beyond how they feel and consider others’ points of view and feelings, which opens a path for understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.
  • Extend trust. Showing vulnerability and extending trust to others is important, people feel trust when they know they can rely on and be vulnerable with those they engage with. But it is equally important to extend trust wisely. They also know that first, they must assess the situation, the risk, and the character of the person to determine if the risk is worth the investment. If the risk is high, they work on continuing to build the relationship first.
  • Consistently demonstrate personal integrity, honesty, and sincerity. They never distort the truth or cover facts to make things easier on themselves. They understand that who they are when they think no one is looking is every bit as important as who they are in the spotlight.


Want to learn more about what great leaders do. Please read our article to learn how: