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What makes a good leader?

You always hear recruiters or potential employers talking about how they look for students with leadership experience. But what does that actually mean? There are definitely great leaders, and there are certainly bad leaders. I started thinking about this when my roommate approached me for ideas on what to write about in her leadership blog for a CSR class.

I told her to write about what a good leader is.

Her response was something along the lines of “I don’t know if my professor would agree with me.”

If we can’t agree on what makes a good leader, then why do employers look for students with leadership experience? There is definitely a difference between being a leader and being a ‘boss’, and while I am sure there are opportunities for both personality types in this world, I think there are certain qualities that come with being in a leadership position that recruiters and employers are looking for.

After doing a little research, my favorite list of desirable leadership qualities is the one listed on Forbes. They list qualities of a great leader as: honesty, ability to delegate, a sense of humor, creativity, confidence, commitment, a positive attitude, intuition and lastly, an ability to inspire.

Recruiters don’t look for candidates with leadership experience because they expect you to manage the company within 6 months–they look for it because they’re hoping you have the traits that are commonly associated with being a good leader. Not only will these traits and skills make you a valuable employee who promotes positivity in the workplace, but they also hope that your show of commitment will transfer to their company and that you are willing to work your way into a leadership role, even though you most likely won’t start in one.

However, there is such a thing as bad leaders. After doing a little research on that, I found my favorite list of bad leadership qualities on

This list includes traits like: lack of empathy, fear of change, unwillingness to compromise, too bossy, wishy-washy, poor judge of character, out of balance and a lack of humility.

A boss is someone who does not necessarily aim to promote a collaborative and positive work environment, but rather works to use their position of power in order to create opportunities for themselves. While ‘bossy’ people can often use their bossy persona and exuding of confidence to land themselves a leadership role, it does not always mean that they have what it takes to be a good leader.

While it is important to take on leadership roles to show initiative and the ability to organize and delegate, use leadership opportunities to develop yourself as a leader and not just as a boss.

If you work hard enough, you may end up as both someday.

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