If you ask several people what qualities leaders should possess, would they all come up with the same list? It’s likely they would come up with similar lists but would deviate on a few of the items. It’s likely the more people you ask, the closer the list will approach the averages.

Some responses will arise from perceptions of people being polled. If you believe that all leaders possess high intelligence, in your past you observed leaders who exhibited above-average intelligence. Others may have observed different attributes.

One attribute that is likely to go on many peoples’ list is integrity. We want leaders who won’t try to cover up problems or won’t try to blame others for their failures. They take responsibility and earn the trust of their followers. And yet, leaders are constantly being profiled in the news as corrupt or in some trouble with the law. 

Leaders are also thought to possess enthusiasm. You’ll hear terms such as eternal optimists associated with great leaders. While this may be true, does this mean that all people who are optimistic are leaders? Have there ever been leaders who were not overly optimistic and had a reason not to exhibit this trait?

Communication is probably one trait that will get on everybody’s list for leadership. After all, if a leader cannot communicate, the team dynamic falters. Everyone will look to the leader to set the stage for communication. If he or she is incapable of being effective in this area, people won’t know what to do, or they will find a new leader who can communicate well. It doesn’t seem likely that leaders can survive without being good communicators.

You probably would include confidence as an attribute that you’d want to see in a leader. While it’s possible for leaders to lack that confidence, it’s not likely their followers will stick with them if they don’t. People need a confident captain to steer the ship in the right direction. They need someone who can alter course in case a storm hits. Only confident leaders will be capable of this.

Many people may include charisma as part of the list of traits for leadership. However, historians widely believe Adolph Hitler had charisma and was the primary method used to take over Germany. He was responsible for many atrocities during that period. While charisma may be a trait that some leaders possess, unfortunately, it doesn’t always lead to positive outcomes.