10 Qualities of the Leaders I Want on My Team

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Who do you want on your team?

What are the qualifications and qualities of the people you want sitting around your leadership table?

If you were to make a list of the attributes you would want on the members of your leadership team you would likely include such characteristics as:

  • Go-getter.

  • Someone who ‘makes it happen’.

  • High achiever.

  • Driven to perform.

  • Results oriented.

If you were to assemble a team with these qualities there’s a good chance this would be a group who could accomplish great things.

But recently I’ve been looking at the people with whom I place the greatest value, and I’ve consistently noticed a second set of qualities. Certainly I value the “make it happen” qualities. But I can’t escape the fact that there are other less obvious attributes I find that I look for.

On my dream team I love to see these 10 less celebrated leadership qualities:

  • They are seated, and ready to engage, before the stated starting time of the meeting.

  • In every conversation they focus on you, not their phone.

  • They are “thanking machines”- Gratitude oozes from them.

  • They stack the chairs and pick up trash.

  • They’re not ‘workaholics’, but they stay until the job is done.

  • They respond promptly to emails and voicemails.

  • They show the same courtesy and respect to the maintenance staff as they do the c.e.o.

  • They show genuine interest in the personal lives of colleagues.

  • They offer to help.

  • They stand up for their teammates.

As you build your team, by all means make sure you are finding leaders who are driven to achieve goals. But make sure they carry some of these less obvious qualities too.

Because when you combine these qualities with the results-oriented characteristics from the first list, you’ll be building a team with an unbeatable leadership combination.

What are the qualities you look for on your team?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.


  1. Our lists are similar. I would add people with self-knowledge who left behind their actor selves. There are many so interested in how they look they stop working on skills and growth. I’ll take substance over image anyday

  2. Great additions to the list; I am going to revise my own list with some of these ideas. “Leave behind their actor selves”, “Keep commitments”, “Know what they don’t know”, “Don’t immediately react”. Love it.

  3. They help their team mates realise their potential by defining their future path. They should be open, frank, honest and trustworthy.

  4. Individuals who have the ability to communicate tough topics with dignity and human respect. To lead others to a higher rise some truth and honesty is required.

  5. There is a powerful theme emerging among these comments. I love seeing words and phrases like “servant-leaders”, “dignity and respect”, “honesty, humility and humor” (love that!) as well as “trustworthy”. What a picture of character-based leadership this paints.

  6. All the above plus they don’t operate by fear. When change happens – and change is about the only thing that is constant in life so seeking to avoid it is problematic at best – they at least accept it, preferable embrace it, and don’t let their productivity suffer.

  7. Tom, that is a profound statement- “They don’t operate by fear”. A fearful, or insecure, leader will lead out of their “worst selves”.

  8. I put a lot of stock in a person’s self-awareness – who they are, the ripples they create as the “pebble in the pond”, strengths and weaknesses, etc. It is hard to measure, quantitatively, however, I know and FEEL it when I “see” it.

  9. Joseph, I love the emphasis on self-awareness. When someone knows their strengths, and their weaknesses, they increase their value to the team exponentially.

  10. I would add ” leaders who believe that they are not the most important figures in the organization, but the people who add real value are. And the leaders role is to keep those -who add value- successful and happy.

  11. I definitely love the self-awareness and “how they show up” facets of the comments. My add would be engagement and ownership of the issues that need resolution as demonstrated by willingness to help and genuine curiosity. Additionally showing that they are looking with a whole-business vs. a my-project mindset.

  12. I find it fascinating that the list of traits of a great leader is quite long. It is particularly important that we recognize that we need leaders on our teams, not people with titles on their business card but people who lead by example and make everyone on the team better.

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