The Qualities of a Good Leader
in the 21st Century


A. Introduction

 The hallmarks of a good leader lie in the ability of the person-in-charge to bring the key or crucial factors across to his subordinates, followers, team-mates or workforce. In other words, such leader should have personal charisma to impress or push his workforce with the will and motivation to get things done or to achieve the goal. To do this, he must have a vision, with which he knows exactly what is to be done and he can also put his team-mates into the whole picture at the outset so that they can in turn get the job done as portrayed.

Vision thus gives a team a mission an important official job that the team is given to do or a sense of purpose to get excited about and a reason for being charged up and motivated. A leader with a vision but without the ability to convey his vision to his followers is akin to an automatic machine gun without somebody aiming at the target the bullets may kill your team-mates and the mission is unaccomplished, rather than "Mission Accomplished". Thus, a leader in the 21st Century must not only be able to sell his vision to the team, but also be capable of ensuring that the team knows precisely what he is saying or what he wants them to do. Communication is therefore a two-way channel talking and getting the message across, then waiting and listening to the comments or feedbacks from the team. The best leaders are the ones who have the patience to listen, as by listening, they can show the speakers that they have their attention. In this way, good listeners can find out the best way to do things in the particular situation, or the best solution to the problem; and can also change their mind or their own way of doing things. A good leader is someone who can organize the work to be done very efficiently, until the job is successfully and timely completed within the budget.

B. The Qualities of a Great Leader

The greatest challenge that we face today is to renew hope and vigour in society, in which our core values sometimes reflect the social and cultural environment that we live in. These values drive each one of us to achieve our ambitions in life. For those who have played team sports, like rugby and basketball, will readily understand the power of self-belief. However, the most gifted athletes do not necessarily make good coaches. Nor will the best professor necessarily make the best Chancellor or President of a university.

So, what are the qualities of leadership? There are many different schools of thoughts about the qualities of good leadership, and although they may be inter-linked with each other, they are not exactly the same as it depends on whether you are referring to a team leader, a business leader or a political leader.

In general terms, a great business leader in the 21st Century should possess, among other things, the following qualitites:-

1.   Visionary outlook a great corporate leader must be very forward-thinking and be able to look beyond where the company is today, know the business inside-out and be able to use that vision to move the company forward, to build, promote and motivate his team and the company to reach the goal as quickly as possible.

2.   Ability to think strategically and to make informed decisions it is very important that a leader has the ability to think strategically and to help the company meet its goals and objectives, by making the right decision at the right time. Unlike a political leader who needs mental toughness, a great team leader can establish a very good working relationship with his team-mates who can themselves articulate the team's vision and goals.

3.   Integrity and ability to command respect employees or team-mates expect their supervisors or leaders to be consistent, fair, honest, trustworthy and responsible for their decisions. Consequently, a great leader should be honest and reliable, has mutual respect for the employees, listens to their ideas and allows the employees to voice their opinions and concerns.

4.   Communication a good leader is a good communicator who is able to communicate at all levels within the organization. Communication thus plays an important part in leadership and enables a leader to know the strengths and weaknesses of the people he is leading and to accept their suggestions for the betterment of the organization.

5.   Interpersonal skills people respond to a person who is personable rather than abrasive. Thus, a good leader should have the ability or skill to relate to his employees and to give his team a sense of ownership and pride.

6.   A solid understanding of the business a great leader is one who knows his company's objectives extremely well and who can lead his team to achieve the goals within the time allowed.

7.   Willingness to admit a mistake everyone makes mistakes and a good leader should learn from his own mistakes, as well as from the mistakes made by his peers or subordinates. Whenever he makes a mistake, he should admit it and should also emphasize the importance of such misstep in front of his team-mates, so that they can also learn from such mistake.

8.   Completing the mission the most obvious trait of a good leader is the ability to complete the mission. A good leader must have a thorough understanding of the job in order to make well-thought decisions and oversee or delegate the work in order to complete the assignment or task.

C. Summary

All in all, a good leader in the 21st Century should:-

§         possess a good vision with a good sense of mission

§         have patience to listen and to weight the values of all concerned

§         be able to command respect from followers and to know the strengths and weaknesses of his subordinates

§         be self-motivated and energetic

§         have the ability to make right decisions under pressure

§         have the ability to lead and to achieve the objectives or to complete the assignment




George Y.C. Mok
Senior Partner
George YC Mok & Co.


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