Essential Leadership Qualities: a brief literature review

By John Dudovskiy
April 5, 2014

Essential Leadership QualitiesLiterature review has shed a light upon essential qualities for individuals holding leadership positions in organisations. Having a clear vision and the ability of articulating it in an efficient manner appears as one of the most important leadership skills in the majority of sources addressed during the preliminary literature review. According to Wart (2008) effective leaders are able to formulate motivating vision and create a situation where the vision is shared by all employees within the organisation.

Communication skills are also crucially important to be possessed by organisational leaders (Gallos, 2008, Bertocci and Bertocci, 2009). Gallos (2008) explains the importance of communication skills for organisational leaders by referring to the fact that leaders need to communicate with different organisational stakeholders in a daily basis, and each category of these stakeholders pursue varying aims and objectives.

According to Stanfield (2009) and Bertocci and Bertocci (2009) decisiveness marks important trait for organisational leaders. When discussing this specific leadership trait Stanfield (2009) refers to The Great Man leadership theory, and argues that individuals born with leadership skills are tend to be more decisive than individuals who have acquired their leadership skills on the course of their lives. However, Stanfield (2009) does not offer any evidences based on empirical studies to justify this viewpoint.

Similarly, self-confidence has been viewed by Goldsmith et al. (2010) and Gold et al. (2010) as another important leadership trait. Goldsmith et al. (2010) conclude that the value of self-confidence as a leadership trait increases in times of crises when  leaders need to be able to take decisions while a wide range of factors remain uncertain.

In their analysis of an alternative leadership quality, integrity, Gold et al. (2010) convincingly argue that the lack of integrity associated with any organisational leader is difficult to conceal in modern times due to the rapidly advancing levels of internet and various forms of information technology.

Moreover, a high level of dedication to work is perceived to be highly important leadership skills by Shriberg (2010). To justify his stand Shriberg (2010) mentions the case studies of successful organisational leaders such as Apple’s late Steve Jobs and former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch, where high level of dedication to the company and employees have enabled organisational leaders to achieve unparalleled success.

Additional important leadership skills and competencies identified as a result of preliminary literatures review include assertiveness (Wart, 2007, Kreitner and Cassidy, 2012), humility (Gallos, 2008), sense of humour (Stanfield, 2009, DuBrin, 2012), openness (Goldsmith et al., 2010), creativity (Kezar et al., 2011) and fairness (Stanfield, 2009, Kezar et al., 2011).



Bertocci, D, I. & Bertocci, D.L. (2009) “Leadership in Organisations: There is a Difference Between Leaders and Managers” University Press of America

Gallos, J.V. (2008) “Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass Reader” 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons

Goldsmith, M. Baldoni, J. & McArthur, S. (2010) “The AMA Handbook of Leadership” AMA

Kezar, A.J., Carducci, R. & McGavin, M.C. (2011) “Rethinking the “L” Word in Higher Education: The Revolution of Research on Leadership” John Wiley & Sons

Kreitner, R. & Cassidy, C. (2012) “Management” Cengage Learning

Shriberg, A. (2010) “Practicing Leadership: Principles and Applications”, 4th edition, John Wiley & Sons

Stanfield (2009) “Defining Effective Leadership: Lead in Whatever You Do” Tate Publishing

Wart, M.V. (2008) “Leadership in Public Organisations: An Introduction” M.E. Sharpe

Category: Leadership