Examples of Good Leadership, and How to Apply Them

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There’s Much More to This Besides Simply Getting the Job Done

Examples of good leadership aren’t always recognised and appreciated when they happen because people are often too busy and wrapped up in other things to notice. But the fact we’re talking about good leadership like this shows it’s a common ideal, something we value in ourselves and others. As a result, it’s a good conversation to have.

How Do You Recognise Good Leadership When You See It? And Why Isn’t It Always Evident?

Whether or not their efforts are noticed and remembered, a good leader continues to set an example through their conduct and manner with colleagues and others. And on that point, we should hold up good leadership as an ideal, but also stay in the real world.

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Be an example regardless of who’s watching


Dr Jennifer Varney, a Management Professor at Southern New Hampshire University, says one thing good leaders do is present themselves as constant and consistent. Leaders and managers can have off days, when they seem to be somewhere else and don’t demonstrate good leadership, for all sorts of reasons. You can hold them accountable for it, but remember that they’re human. In so doing, you’re showing leadership and compassion.

Later, we’ll look in detail at Dr Varney’s examples of good leadership. Firstly, let’s think about this question: What is an example of leadership at work?

Here Are 4 Possible Leadership Scenarios to Consider:

  • Stepping in to resolve a problem.
  • Inspiring teammates to deliver their best work.
  • Showing initiative.
  • Helping colleagues struggling with time management.

In each one, the person taking this action is showing leadership. To do these things effectively, they need to be on the ball, empathetic, focused, and present.

Now building on this, here’s a list of examples of leadership in the workplace, from Business Leadership Today. We may not manage to achieve them every time, ourselves. But we can at least try, and learn from our experience:

  • Being flexible.
  • Building trust.
  • Empathising
  • Communicating
  • Giving and receiving feedback.
  • Actively listening.
  • Being patient.
  • Solving problems creatively.
  • Delegating
  • Resolving conflict tactfully.
  • Managing our own time wisely.
  • Maintaining consistency.
  • Adapting
  • Motivating employees to do their best.

Trying your best to be a good leader and learning from experience also come into this next list. You are more likely to succeed in your leadership if you’re aware of:

5 Things You Need to Be a Good Leader:

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Check out these tips below!


NSLS.org suggest these top tips:

  • Build strong communication skills and create an open dialogue. Good communication skills are an essential part of leadership.
  • Prioritise feedback: Positive and constructive feedback is necessary.
  • Foster strong connections. You can’t do it alone.
  • Take risks and embrace failure. Review and improve.
  • Stay growth and future-focused. It’s not just about right now.

All in all, these qualities are important whether you’re running a start-up or a large company.

Good leadership also involves knowing the difference between leading, managing and judging the situation. We talk about this at length in our article on Leadership and Management Styles. Now our next list of examples of good leadership is as much for leaders as managers:

What Are 10 Good Leadership Traits?

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Do you have any of these traits?


Dr Jennifer Varney, a Management Professor at Southern New Hampshire University, one of the USA’s fastest-growing universities, writes on SNHU’s website that good leaders show the following traits:

  1. Possess self-awareness.
  2. Garner credibility.
  3. Focus on relationship building.
  4. Have a bias for action.
  5. Exhibit humility.
  6. Empower others.
  7. Stay authentic.
  8. Present themselves as constant and consistent.
  9. Become role models.
  10. Are fully present.

Now it’s easy to be flippant and say Dr Varney is giving students false hopes by suggesting they will find leaders with these qualities when they’re in the real world of business. But as we said at the start, the fact we’re talking about good leadership like this, shows it’s a common ideal, so it’s worth pursuing.

Let’s Look at These Traits in Detail. Here’s the First 5:

1. Self-awareness:

One example of good leadership is showing self-awareness. Particularly, leaders need to be constantly aware of how they’re acting, and what they are saying in words and through their nonverbal communication.

Team members constantly observe leaders and model their actions and reactions by how the leader reacts. Especially in times of change or stress, we look to leaders to see how to react and do so either consciously or unconsciously.

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2. Credibility:

Leaders gain credibility and trust by doing what they say they’ll do, holding themselves accountable for their words and actions, and putting their needs first. Dr Varney says one way to do this is through relationship building. This brings us to our next trait.

3. Relationship Building:

The whole notion of good leadership is all about pursuing ideals. Contemporary leadership theories like participative leadership are based on another ideal, recognising employees as human beings and forming relationships with them.

Suspicious people might challenge their boss’s motives and say they’re manipulating them by building relationships and making them feel good about themselves, so they can use them. But at least start by giving them the benefit of the doubt.

4. Have a Bias for Action:

Some leaders talk a good game but don’t follow through. Good leaders talk about what needs to happen and then make it so. Read our article about autocratic leadership, and when it’s appropriate to get results. But also take note of what it says about bringing people with you and inspiring them.

5. Stay Humble:

Another way to display examples of good leadership is by being humble. All in all, don’t be overly proud of your work and accomplishments and don’t believe you’re better than other people. Also, don’t take credit for others’ work.

Put the team’s needs before yours, and stand up for what they need. By focusing more on others than yourself, you gain their trust and help them develop and grow beyond what they might think possible. Read what it says about servant leadership, in our article on leadership and management styles on our blog.

Now Let’s Look at the Next 5 Traits for Showing Examples of Good Leadership:

6. Empower the Team:

A leader who empowers others unleashes their ability to act on behalf of their area of work or expertise and provides them with an opportunity to grow and improve. When a leader empowers a team member, they give them a set of guidelines to work to and then let them get on with their work. Read our article on empowerment training.

7. Stay Authentic:

Authenticity means acting in a way that represents who we truly are, rather than trying to be someone else. Leaders who act authentically, show their true selves to their team members, and over time, they come to rely on the leader acting in certain ways, and supporting them.

8. Present Yourself as Constant and Consistent:

Consistent communication is key in a work environment. If leaders’ words and actions are similar every time, the team won’t be left wondering how they will respond. Like with authenticity, leaders who speak in a constant and consistent way become almost predictable over time. As a result, the team comes to rely on this predictability, which builds trust and reduces stress in the workplace.

9. Become a Role Model:

This means, a living example of good leadership. Although they may not realise it, leaders are constantly being observed by their followers. As we said about trait 1, Self-Awareness, team members watch to see how the leader responds to messages or events, and model their responses from what they see the leader do. This includes how leaders respond to unexpected changes, something businesses are frequently having to face in the current business environment.

10. Be Fully Present:

This one can be tough for leaders since they’re often pulled in many directions at the same time. Basically, being present for team members means being fully focused on what they’re saying, what they are doing and the work itself. On the contrary, leaders who are not present, appear distracted and don’t give team members their full attention, which undermines their previous efforts at relationship building.

Here Are Some Examples of Famous Leaders Who Show Examples of Good Leadership. Who Gets Your Nomination?

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Keep reading for famous leaders and qualities


  • King Charles III
  • Sir Richard Branson
  • Bill Gates
  • Elon Musk
  • Jeff Bezos
  • Zuber and Mohsin Issa, EG Group
  • Alison Rose, CEO Natwest
  • Sharon White, chair of John Lewis
  • Elaine Birchall, CEO of SHS Group
  • Amanda Blanc, Aviva CEO

Articles like this often talk about successful leaders, and what we can learn from them. Now take a moment to draw up your own list. And as you do, reflect on which people come to mind and then you dismiss them in favour of others, and the reasons why you do it.

Thinking of names for a list like this is of course, subjective. We don’t know these people personally, only what we’ve been told or read about them. But the point is, we admire their achievements, and we want to believe the best of them, that they’re living examples of good leadership. We may not be quite so generous in how we see people’s leadership in our own work and business circles!

More Examples of Qualities of Good Leadership

From our received knowledge of the people we think of as great leaders, they have the following qualities:

  • Share their vision.
  • Lead by example.
  • Demonstrate integrity.
  • Communicate effectively.
  • Make hard decisions.
  • Recognise success.
  • Empower others.
  • And motivate and inspire.

Let’s Be Practical about This – Examples of Good Leadership Skills

CV and cover letter template service Zety.com reckon these are the top 10 most important leadership skills needed to be a good leader in the workplace:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Change management
  • People management
  • Trustworthiness
  • Responsibility
  • Flexibility
  • Delegation
  • Empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Creativity

Keep in mind, that you will need to give examples of how you have shown good leadership and used these skills when you apply for jobs. Also, you will be grilled at the interview, so you’ll need to be able to talk convincingly.

Zety.com makes the point that good leadership is about getting groups of individuals to work together to reach the common goals of a company or organisation. The leadership skills on this list are ‘soft skills’, characterised by the way you work and interact with other people. Some observers, including Zety.com, say leadership skills are a combination of;

Our personal character traits are what make each of us unique. They’re our USP, why people buy into us. But the good news is, you can always work on and develop your soft skills, with the help of Making Business Matter.

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Two Perhaps Unlikely, But Vitally Important, Examples of Good Leadership to Think About

We live in a results-driven world. People in business often talk about smashing targets, achieving KPIs, outperformance, exceeding expectations, and the rest. Yet looking back, the leaders who inspire us most over our careers, and the folk we namecheck on LinkedIn and elsewhere, are likely to be people who cut through all that.

On the Center for Creative Leadership’s website, ccl.org, they give 10 characteristics of a good leader:

  1. Integrity
  2. Delegation
  3. Communication
  4. Self-Awareness
  5. Learning Agility
  6. Influence
  7. Empathy
  8. Courage
  9. Respect
  10. And Gratitude

Now we’ve covered the first 8 characteristics already in so many words. But we haven’t said much so far about the last two, gratitude and respect. So let’s take respect first.

A Closer Focus on Gratitude and Respect

Committing to treating people with respect every day is one of the most important things a leader can do, according to the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL.) It eases tensions and conflict, creates trust, and improves effectiveness.

Important to note, that creating a genuine culture of respect is about more than the absence of disrespect. Respect should be at the heart of companies embracing diversity, if Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity, and all that is to amount to more than just box ticking.

Respect can be shown in many ways, but as CCL say, it often starts with being a good listener, who genuinely wants to understand other people’s perspectives, rather than make everyone go with theirs.

Now the last quality on the list is gratitude. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) says being thankful can lead to higher self-esteem, reduced depression and anxiety, and better sleep. Furthermore, there’s medical evidencetoo  for oxytocin playing a part in the social bonding effects of expressed gratitude.

Gratitude contributes to overall life satisfaction by 20% stat
Is your life satisfaction low? Well, try being gracious


CCL also quote a survey saying that differences in levels of gratitude are responsible for about 20% of individual differences in overall life satisfaction. Gratitude is powerful because it’s a complex social emotion. In other words, it’s an emotion that makes us think about other people.

We can’t be grateful that someone went out of their way to help us unless we stop and think about the situation from the other person’s perspective. Yet despite all this, few people regularly say “thank you” in work settings, even though most people say they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss.

And Finally – Read All About It: You Too Can Show Examples of Good Leadership

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Remember that everything you need is in this article


There are plenty of resources out there, to help with this. We’ve quoted the Center for Creative Leadership (ccl.org) just now. Greensboro, North Carolina, where they are, might seem an unlikely place for Brits to look for inspiration. But we’re in a global culture, and people like Stephen R. Covey and Brene Brown, and TED Talks are familiar to us through the internet. You can download a visual summary of CCL’s essential characteristics of a great leader in PDF form at ccl.org.

It’s Your Move

So we mentioned earlier how you’ll need to give examples of how you’ve shown good leadership and used these skills when you apply for jobs. If you’re applying for a job today, you can find 13 model leadership experience examples for interviews at Careersidekick.com. And even if you aren’t looking right now, it’s worth thinking about how you’re demonstrating examples of good leadership from day to day, and what else you could be doing to be better at it. Good luck!

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Action: Check out our ultimate guide on Team Building Skills and Leadership Skills.

Related Articles:

Leadership MotivationLeadership Skills TipsLeadership Styles Articles and Content

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