Biz Features

69 Underrated Qualities of Leaders

by . October 15th, 2015

Leadership is difficult and necessary. But we misunderstand what true leadership comes down to.

Ask anyone what the most important leadership qualities are and you’ll likely get cliches like “honesty”, “delegation”, “integrity”, “communications skills”, “creativity”, or “a positive attitude”.

No one denies that these are important. But in the real world, it’s the little things that make the difference between someone who manages and someone who is a leader to their core.

Here are some a few underrated qualities of leaders. Some of it was gleaned from this great Quora thread, others from a quick poll via social media. There’s plenty of overlap, and we tried to cut that down. But words can mean different things to some people, we’ve decided to leave a few arguable ones in.

Underrated leadership qualities

  1. Persistence.
  2. Can comprehend poorly-written or poorly-expressed material
  3. Knows how to use information in context.
  4. Knows when to remain silent.
  5. Knows when to let someone win.
  6. Knows when to quit.
  7. Pattern recognition.
  8. Charm.
  9. Knows how to tell a story.
  10. Thinks systemically.
  11. Learns introspectively.
  12. Learns to fail gracefully.
  13. Practices daily gratitude.
  14. Kindness.
  15. Great at letting things go.
  16. Works at the things they CAN change.
  17. Does not project self-image on others.
  18. Lives a sober, balanced life.
  19. Knows when and how to say no.
  20. Idealistic but not blindly dogmatic.
  21. Asks the right questions.
  22. Patient.
  23. Knows when to be impatient.
  24. Knows what it means to be a victim.
  25. Is perfectly comfortable alone.
  26. Gives the right amount of eye contact.
  27. Flexibility.
  28. The ability to compromise.
  29. Self-control.
  30. Knows when to dispense with formalities.
  31. Knows why formalities are sometimes needed.
  32. Dignity.
  33. Doesn’t breathe loudly.
  34. Above average hygiene.
  35. Compassion and love for everyone.
  36. Resilience.
  37. Can run any part of the business if they have to.
  38. Not being the wrong person at the wrong time.
  39. An eye for aesthetics.
  40. A wholesome sense of humor.
  41. Understands the subversive.
  42. Has gravitas.
  43. Appreciates history.
  44. Understands the present-day.
  45. Wants to shape the future.
  46. An ear for music and poetry.
  47. A wholesome sense of humor.
  48. Understanding that everyone is different.
  49. Is not afraid to be unlikable.
  50. Will sacrifice themselves if needed.
  51. Culturally sensitive.
  52. Ready to volunteer.
  53. Ready to accept others for what they are.
  54. Ready to change others if they have to.
  55. Trusts themselves.
  56. Respectful.
  57. Knows how to simplify complex ideas.
  58. Knows when to apologize — and when not to.
  59. Witty.
  60. Can calculate risks quickly.
  61. Knows the importance of health.
  62. Doesn’t brag about how little sleep they get.
  63. Does not one up you for the sake of it.
  64. Does not dismiss your struggles out of hand.
  65. Cultivates mystique.
  66. Does not overshare personal things on social media.
  67. Knows and does the math.
  68. Knows someone who could do even more math.
  69. Knows the difference between integrity and political correctness.

If you feel leadership is not for you, think again. You do not have to manage people to be a leader. A leader can also be one who has mastered themselves. In a time when so many people have no idea what they’re doing or what direction their life is taking, the few who have control even of their own selves by extension can grow into great leaders of other people.

What underrated leadership traits do you find important? Comment below!




Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.