How to Identify a Good Leader


Take a moment and think about someone who embodies good leadership. Chances are, you knew this person was a leader upon meeting them, but it can be harder to determine what makes them that way. Even the term “born leader” implies some people are leaders because they were meant to be.

So it’s a good thing that’s not the only way to get there.

Leadership is a skill. And like any other skill, it can be something you’re naturally talented at, something you practice, and something you learn. Almost everyone has some aspects of good leadership, but putting them all together in the right situations is what makes a leader a good one … or not.

Leading from the Front

Good leaders have to be in the front in order to see where they’re taking you. In the case of today’s leaders, where it’s more politics than battle, this means accountability. Leaders understand that being in charge means they’re responsible – if the project fails, they fail. On the flip side, they don’t get to take as much credit. Instead, they have to dole out the kudos to the rest of the team.

This can be hard for some people to swallow, but others are happy to do it. They can do that because they already understand that the team’s success or failure is their own.

Taking “No” for an Answer

Leaders not only expect to hear criticism, they want to hear it. It’s well understood that no idea is perfect. That means someone, somewhere should be able to poke a hole in it. Good leaders want to know what those holes are, so they can plan for them or, if necessary, change course.

Being surrounded by “yes men” is a sure sign of struggling and insecure leadership. People who are deaf to the problems surrounding their ideas appear arrogant. The people who ask for honest feedback and take criticism without anger refine their ideas until they have the cream of the crop.

A Strong Presence Online

Having a strong presence can be a bit ambiguous, but it’s important to do. Being active online is still important. Everyone now has a website. Everyone has a Facebook account. However, some people still aren’t good at it. A leader in the industry or department needs to stand out from your Great Aunt Claire.

A good example of a professional but powerful presence can be seen with Keith Springer of Springer Financial Advisors. A quick Google Search and you can tell he’s optimized all his social profiles to make the most of them and showcase himself as an expert. Taking the time to really work on creating a powerful presence online will benefit you in the end because so many others simply don’t do it. It’s how people find you, get to know you, and, eventually, trust you. Good leaders know trust is the epitome of a working relationship, so they build it.


No one person can make all the decisions, all the time, but when one needs to be made, a leader doesn’t hesitate for long. This person understands the value of a quick response, and they know sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Red tape is in place for a reason, but sometimes you need to ignore the hurdles and just get the job done.

Emotional Intelligence

Typically, emotional intelligence (EI) is considered a “soft skill” and is often not in the list of important attributes. However, for leadership, it probably is one of the most important aspects, and probably the one that’s the most difficult to attain.

Being able to read people and to understand how to interact with them based on body language and mood is a highly subjective skill. Those who are good at it gain people’s trust and are able to inspire and encourage them. The result is people work harder for them and actually want to do the work. That’s really the key to good leadership — inspiring people to want to work toward an end goal.

About The Author

Scott Huntington is a career specialist, writer, and blogger from Central Pennsylvania. He writes for Careerealism, Brazen Careerist, and The Oxford University Press. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.


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