Qualities of a great leader

Jonah Nyoni

The world is in a crisis. Countries are grappling with their unique and new problems. Companies are facing accelerated change. That calls for great leaders. What defines a great leader? A leader does not become great by becoming a person of value. When the leader becomes a person of value, you go beyond success to become a person of significance (influence).

Leadership competence

At times organisations create leaders who are talented, especially for a particular job which does not always make good leaders. A great leader has to have management competence, professional and transferrable skills. Leadership is not only the ability to execute a job. A leader has to understand the strategic goal, vision and objectives of an organisation. In addition, it might be easy to create a product as one needs special knowledge or expertise.But with leadership it is different, because you are leading individuals that have feelings, thoughts, attitudes, behaviours and special traits. It is said people don’t follow a person, but they follow the vision or value possesed by the individual. People are not looking for you but what you are carrying.

Strategic communication

Great leaders are strategic communicators. They know how to spell out the vision of the organisation, and elicit for helpers that will make it possible to accomplish the vision. Strategic communicators attract new stakeholders for the organisation using their skill in gab. It’s more than just oratory power, but the ability to build, manage and communicate the brand of an organisation or institute.

Infonomics and analytics

A great leader has an eye for detail. Detail matters in these times of technological change. First the leader must be willing to adjust quickly to changes brought by technology.  The leader must be abreast with the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, design thinking, systems thinking, automation, strategic social media communication, machine learning and related subjects.

The leader must be eyeing the next bounce of the ball. John Kotter in his book Accelerate says a leader must master agility, speed, efficiency and effectiveness. This calls for business intelligence and acumen in analytics. Some of the tools leaders must know include the Force field analysis, SWOT analysis, Competitive analysis: Porter’s Five Forces, The PESTLIED Analysis, The Performance-based management system. All these and more are used to analyze business performance and effectiveness.

Be sold out

People buy into a leader that is sold out towards the goal. We have leaders that want the job because of available benefits. When one has enthusiasm and drive towards the dream, it’s easy for people to follow and be part of a dream. Passion and enthusiasm is just like influenza, people catch it without so much effort. When you are sincere, people know it.


A trusted leader is easy to follow. Leaders with integrity say the truth, are authentic, and acknowledge when they have made a mistake. Untrustworthy leaders cover up with decit. Safety can keep an employee, but with a leader that lacks integrity, safety cannot be guaranteed.


Great leaders are great thinkers. Furthermore, great thinkers make decisions that benefit the company and employees. At times their decisions may be wrong, but they own their decisions, and they are not afraid of taking a risk. We have leaders that are afraid of making decisions. Worse still, it seems there are outsiders that seem to have a final say. For example, when in a meeting, they always say, 'I will consult with the board' all the time when it is time to make that final decision and they never revert. That is a trick that most leaders use to evade or avoid making decisions.

They empower and delegate power

Some leaders or managers are afraid of empowering followers. They don’t want to grow the follower to be a leader. They are afraid that their position will be taken. Secondly, they are afraid of delegating authority. A powerful leader is the one that empowers others.


Relatable leaders are likable leaders. It is easy to follow someone that you like. In our article last week, we talked about frientorship. Frientoship is a combination of mentorship, friendship, and leadership. Be a friend to your team members or employees. We have educated leaders, but without humanity at heart. We have rich leaders who can’t enrich others. We have powerful leaders that can’t empower others. Real leaders touch the heart before they ask for a hand. Great leaders read emotions, before they pass their judgment.

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