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What makes a good leader?

The answer depends on the culture of the organisation you run or work within and your own personality. But you don’t have to be able to work a room to be the most effective person in it. Leadership styles vary. What counts is having a vision and being able to communicate it to your workforce in an inspiring way. If you don’t see yourself as a natural leader then don’t worry. The qualities associated with effective leadership are ones we can all nurture and develop.

"You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership."
Dwight Eisenhower

Leadership qualities

  • has published an article listing eight essential leadership qualities: sincere enthusiasm; integrity; great communication skills; loyalty; decisiveness; managerial competence; empowerment; and charisma.
  • The Undercover Recruiter offers 5 basics to being a better leader, which are: learn how to listen; become a good storyteller; lead by action; really get to know people and commit to being better.

You might have your own favourites such as motivation, risk taking, having a strong vision, time management and problem solving.

But the overall aim of a good leader is universal: inspiring and directing a workforce.

"The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around them."

Ways to develop your skills

Scottish Enterprise runs regular programmes to strengthen your abilities as a leader, including bespoke help for rural businesses.

  • The Rural Leadership programme is aimed at managers and employees of rural businesses who want to develop their leadership skills and grow their business. Farmers, vets, estate managers, tourism managers, and managers from processing and supply businesses have all taken part. Find out if you are eligible.

More quotes about leadership

  1. "A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves." — Lao Tzu
  2. "We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated."  Maya Angelou
  3. "A ruler should be slow to punish and swift to reward." — Ovid
  4. "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." Bill Gates
  5. "Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence." — Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
  6. "It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership." — Nelson Mandela
  7. "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."  John F Kennedy
  8. "To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart." ― Eleanor Roosevelt

What's next?

Our Skills for Growth service can give you a flexible blueprint for leading your company to success. Get free business consultancy and a tailored plan for training and recruitment. Read about Skills for Growth now.