Qualities of a Supervisor and Leader

Leaders and supervisors require a broad skill set.
Leaders and supervisors require a broad skill set. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Being a supervisor and leader calls for an extensive skill set and the ability to adapt those skills to particular contexts. Acting in a leadership or supervisory role also requires the ability to know when to use which skills, and how. While listing every skill for each context is impossible, some qualities stand out above the others.


You don't need to know every single fact and figure in order to be a good leader, but demonstrating general intelligence and critical capacity helps to inspire confidence in those who are responsible to you. Intelligence, in this case, is defined broadly to include not just general knowledge and competence, but also the ability to make good judgments and to use common sense. Being able to address problems and to develop responses to them is also essential and often requires quick, critical thought.


Leadership often requires that you stick to your principles and enforce norms and rules. However, leaders and supervisors must also know when to be open to new ideas and change. This openness should also extend to interpersonal relationships in the office, on the field, or on the job site. Those responsible to you must believe that they can approach you and have faith that you will listen to them and treat them fairly and with respect.

Sense of Humor

When you think of essential leadership or supervisory skills, "sense of humor" might not come to mind at first. However, having a good sense of humor -- especially when it comes to yourself -- helps to keep a working environment open and may help boost morale, too. Being serious is important, but taking yourself too seriously can be alienating and intimidating to the point where it becomes counterproductive. Having a good sense of humor, however, does not mean being a pushover -- it also requires that the leader know when and where to draw the line.

Job-Specific Skills

Good leaders and supervisors should be well-versed and knowledgeable in the particular area in which they are leading or supervising others. As a leader, you are often responsible for guiding employees or teammates and helping them to improve at the job or in their responsibilities. Knowing how to carry out these actions or tasks yourself -- whether as a teacher, a plumber, an athlete, or an accountant -- should help give you the confidence to teach others and should earn you their respect.

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