Whether you are searching for a great team leader or wanting to develop into one, here are the seven most important leadership qualities to assess and develop.

Two questions I receive are:

“What leadership qualities should I look for when hiring a team lead?”

“I want to move into a leadership position, so what areas should I develop?”

In my experience, good leaders are natural. You can develop natural talent to be great, but it is very hard to teach someone to be a leader. There is always room for tremendous learning and growth, which transitions these ‘naturals’ into great team leads.

Having coached countless leaders at all stages of their career, here are the most important leadership qualities to assess and develop.

9. Honesty

You cannot build trust in others without showing a track record of honesty. Leadership and trust of influence and a team lead must be influential. It’s impossible to lead effectively when trust lacks especially turning critical times of business change and transformation.

8. High Tolerance for Stress

A team leader gains progressive responsibility, and much of that centers around people. It is a leader’s job to help people feel safe, secure and valued. Especially during times of change and transition, people look to leadership for reaction.

A higher level of stress-tolerance keeps a leader’s appearance calm which translates into team focus and a feeling of safety.

7. Curiosity

Without the pull of curiosity, innovation dies. One of the most critical leadership qualities is using that curiosity to constantly learn.

A high-potential team lead is always looking to do and be better today than yesterday. That not only builds team performance, it builds the business.

6. Resilient

Great leaders take some time to ‘mourn’ their losses and failures but then bounce right back. If you are doing something innovative, you are going to fail at some point.

A team lead learns, forgives themselves, and then jumps right back in for their next great win.

5. A Desire to Be a Team Leader

For me, this is the most important of all leadership qualities – a passion and need to lead.

People often do things for the wrong reasons, including accepting a leadership position. A great team leader has a passion from within to develop others for success. Bad leaders accept the position for the wrong reason, and it shows.

leadership qualities team leader potential intelivate kris fannin focus

One of the most important leadership qualities is focusing on what is important as a leader.

Assess why you want to be a leader and make sure it’s for all the right reasons – the people.

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4. The Right Fuel of Purpose

Speaking of making decisions for the right reasons, I am always talking about the fuel of purpose in making decisions.

A great team lead fuels decisions in a positive way, as opposed to revenge or to feed the ego. You can make the same decision but have different fuel. The results are different and I’ve seen it a million times.

3. The Proper Focus

A powerful team leader knows not only the differences between leadership and management but also knows when to lead.

One of the most impacting leadership qualities is focusing on mindset as opposed to just behaviors to lift performance. Why? Because the right mindset translates to desired behaviors if you give it time.

leadership qualities team leader potential intelivate kris fannin when to lead
A leader must understand when to lead vs when to manage. Both are critical functions.

2. Authenticity

I see this problem all of the time – when people are first put into a team leader role, they act, decide and begin thinking in the way they think ‘a leader should.’

They lose themselves.

Good leaders stay true to themselves. There may be times they feel lost, but they snap back together and stay true to the core of themselves.

1. Self Awareness

This is being honest with yourself. You cannot trust yourself if you are not honest with yourself. Self-awareness brings the desire to change and builds confidence in the ability to change.

leadership qualities team leader potential confidence kris fannin intelivateConfidence is a necessary trait of an effective leader.


There are thousands of leadership qualities I could list here. Based on lots of experience, these are the nine most important especially if you are assessing team leader potential or looking to develop into a leadership role.

I would love to hear if you have any others that you would add to this list or any questions you might have in either assessing or developing these traits. I’ll be listening over at Twitter and LinkedIn, and look forward to hearing from you!

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