Sourcing success: The 5 essential qualities of a good leader

James Ridd our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 20 February 2024

There are many characteristics that make a leader successful. But the qualities of a good leader with the power to transform are often a little harder to pin down. There’s a certain distinctiveness about them, and whether you’re hiring executive talent or trying to land a new leadership role, it’s crucial to know how to identify it. 


In this article, I look at the top five qualities that distinguish exceptional leaders and how to keep these in mind during the hiring process.

1. Visionary leadership

Visionary leaders see beyond immediate challenges and pursue a compelling vision. More than that, they make it a reality by setting clear goals, outlining a strategic plan and rallying everyone together. 


A well-defined vision gives purpose, helping teams understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture and overall company objectives. When people have a shared vision to strive towards, they’re more motivated and committed to achieving collective goals.


Businesses need visionary leadership; it’s the biggest catalyst for change and progress, allowing them to stay adaptive in an ever-evolving landscape. As such, this essential quality is more than just setting goals. The influence of a leader’s vision creates a ripple effect that shapes the organization's culture, values and long-term trajectory. 

2. Emotional intelligence

We can’t answer what the five qualities of a good leader are without mentioning emotional intelligence (EI). Why? Because teams with empathetic leaders report an increase in engagement (76%) and creativity (61%).


EI revolves around self-awareness, empathy and social skills, all of which are essential for building strong relationships. Emotionally intelligent leaders

  • Connect with their team on a deeper level
  • Inspire confidence and trust
  • Prioritize open communication and active listening
  • Approach conflicts with tact and diplomacy
  • Understand body language and nonverbal cues


EI is the most coveted of all leadership skills and qualities in 2024. In fact, a UC Berkeley study found that EI was four times better at predicting someone’s success than measuring IQ. Therefore, it’s crucial to develop EI in leadership roles across your organization. Here are some practical tips:

  • Invest in executive coaching, with an emphasis on teaching leaders EI skills
  • Encourage active listening, open lines of communication and self-assessment 
  • Provide opportunities to hone EI skills through workshops or team-building activities
  • Lead by example—model the behavior you want to see

3. Strategic thinking

Leaders are often confronted with rapidly changing circumstances and market trends. This forces them to pivot quickly and devise solutions on the fly. Strategic thinking stands out as one of the most important qualities of a good leader during times of uncertainty, allowing them to anticipate challenges, identify opportunities and chart a course towards success. 


Many times, strategic thinking is about understanding that trial and error are inherent to the process of innovation. Leaders who have honed this skill encourage teams to explore new ideas, experiment with different approaches and learn from both successes and failures. 


To find strategic thinkers, it’s important to look at alternative and diverse talent pools. Only when you look outside the box do you find truly innovative and adaptive leaders who bring unique perspectives to the table. To see a real-life example of how Hanover has secured this type of talent on behalf of one of our clients, read this case study

4. Accountability and integrity

Of all the leadership skills and qualities a good candidate must possess, accountability and integrity are non-negotiables, since they serve as the foundation for trust and credibility. 


Leaders must uphold high ethical standards. This entails both making tough decisions and taking responsibility for the outcomes, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative. 


We can take a lesson from modern leaders on the importance of integrity in leadership roles. Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, centers her leadership on transparency, accountability and open communication. This has allowed Mary to successfully lead GM through an economically-uncertain and disruptive industry.


Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, is another example. He has upheld ethical behavior by taking swift and decisive action to address organizational challenges, such as improving DE&I standards and bringing empathy into the core of Microsoft’s culture. 

5. Effective communication

You can hire the most visionary leader in the world, but if they have poor communication, no one will follow them. 


Effective communication isn’t a soft skill—it’s the foundation of successful leadership. Good leaders convey their (and the company’s) vision, objectives and expectations to inspire and align their teams towards common goals.


This is perhaps one of the most important qualities of a good leader because without it, all their other abilities fall flat. So, what defines effective communication? The ability to:

  • Communicate transparently and authentically, fostering trust and encouraging an open dialogue among team members.
  • Articulate ideas persuasively, actively listen to feedback and adapt communication styles for diverse audiences.
  • Excel in both written and verbal forms of communication, allowing the message to land with the same impact in any environment.
  • Humanize complex information and data points in order to demonstrate more value and keep listeners engaged.


When hiring leaders for your organization, prioritizing strong communication skills ensures that messages are conveyed clearly, concisely and authentically. In turn, this keeps everyone united, leading to higher engagement and productivity. 

How can Hanover support you in identifying a good leader? 

These five essential qualities of a good leader are the kernels of business success. By embodying visionary leadership, EI, strategic thinking, integrity and communication, leaders can navigate challenges, build stronger teams and shape a brighter future for their organizations.


At Hanover, our experience in executive search helps you identify and recruit transformative leaders who possess these essential leadership skills and qualities. We don’t just fill seats—we discover individuals who become integral assets to your growth.

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