Anywhere you look, examples of great leaders can be found. Throughout history, there have been giants of innovation, and pioneers of social change. You may even consider someone close to you a great leader, including a parent or teacher. Whether you're changing the world or making a small but meaningful impact, everyone has what it takes to become a good leader.
At Army Cadets, our goal is to take that first spark of ambition in the heart of a cadet and nurture it into a roaring fire. That way, when it’s time to step up and lead a team, you’ll have all the fundamental skills and experience to be great.
So what are the qualities of a good leader?
5 Qualities of a Good Leader
There is no single definition of a good leader. Everyone in your team will have something that makes them special and unique - a streak of ingenuity. Recognising and valuing the diverse identities and experiences of your team has been proven to lead to higher performance in both businesses and organisations*. This is because embracing inclusivity opens the door to bigger and better ideas and opportunities.
It’s a much better way to make friends too! Imagine limiting yourself to one perspective and one experience at all times. Humans have it in their nature to engage with each other, using written, verbal and non-verbal communication, to teach, learn, gossip and be silly. To confide, complain and connect. Expanding your circle to encompass people from different races, cultures, sexual orientations and religions will not only enrich you as a person but as a leader too.
Being adaptable means responding to difficult and unexpected situations in a calm, collected and proactive manner. The ability to asses risks before they happen and respond appropriately is super important to the success of a great leader. Catastrophes can seem a lot less catastrophic when you’ve mastered the skill of adaptability.
Being open-minded is an essential skill for an aspiring, adaptable leader. This means considering multiple perspectives when evaluating scenarios to make well-considered decisions. Additionally, an open mind involves shaking off any limiting beliefs you may have about yourself and your abilities as a role model - this can often be the hardest part! Once you believe in yourself, stepping up to other challenges and opportunities will be a breeze.
From day one, try to have a clear understanding of what you and your team are going to accomplish. Once you’ve identified the change you want to make and your team is on board, it’s time to be a visionary. Visionaries are risk-takers and they aren’t discouraged by bumps in the road. Their passion for progress is infectious. You don’t have to make the same impact as Martin Luther King Jr. or Malala Yousafzai to be a visionary leader - simply focus on the big picture, and you can achieve it!
As a leader, effective communication is crucial to achieving success. This doesn't mean dominating conversations or being the loudest voice. Valuable exchanges happen when both parties participate in active listening, defined as attentively listening to and understanding people. Active listening also involves being aware of your body language as this is a passive tool for communication - maintain eye contact and speak directly to your team members.
Being an honest, dependable and respectful person will get you far in life, these are traits that everyone should strive to display at all times. It’s easy to tell when a leader has integrity. They’re open to feedback and growing themselves, they prioritise the well-being of their team and they can take ownership of their mistakes. Winning back trust from your team once you have lost it is incredibly difficult so always maintain integrity so you can remain a positive role model.
Growing as a Leader
Now you know the fundamentals of a great leader. But how can we put this into practice? In school, you can show leadership qualities in lessons by going above and beyond to help your teacher and classmates. In a work environment, you can break out from the crowd by being vocal about your ideas and showing commitment and passion in everything you do.
Additionally, there are plenty of extra-curricular activities that nurture great leaders like participating in sports and volunteering. If you’re 12-18, you can join us as an army cadet where you’ll learn to harness the core values of a leader through adventure and new experiences. Or if you’re 18+, why not help us create the next generation of leaders through our adult volunteer program?