The leadership challenge: four qualities of a leader that motivate others

According to research from the authors of The Leadership Challenge, the four qualities employees want from their bosses is honesty, competency, being forward looking and being inspirational.

When researching their book The Leadership Challenge, the co-authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner asked respondents to tell them what qualities they look for and admire in a leader. According to their studies, the top four qualities are:

Honesty: 88 per cent rate honesty as the most important. Honesty is strongly tied to values and ethics. People admire leaders who know where they stand on important principles and have confidence in their own beliefs.

Forward thinking: 71 per cent want a leader with a vision, and a concern for the direction of the organisation. No one wants to follow someone who is lost.

Competency: Employees look for a leader that knows what they are doing and can get the job done. It’s important that the leader takes the time to learn the business and to know the current operation.

Inspiration: Employees want someone who is enthusiastic, energetic and positive. While leaders define the content of the work to be done, they can make the context far more meaningful if they’re able to inspire people. To earn the credibility so that employees see you as honest, forward-looking, inspiring and competent, Mr Kouzes says leaders need to engage in these five practices.

The importance of other factors to the success of an organisation, such as the personality type of the leader, have also been analysed by Mr Kouzes. He says no one personality type is predominantly more of a leader than another.

He also dismisses the relevance of other demographic variables: “When we took factors such as age, gender, country of origin, length of service, level in the organisation and educational level and correlated those with the extent to which they accounts for engagement at work, in the US, all those variables combined only account for two-tenths of 1 per cent,” he says, adding, “in other words, it doesn’t matter who you are. What does matter is how you as a leader behave.”

For more information about The Leadership Challenge, visit

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Published: December 21, 2014 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read