What Are the Characteristics of a Good Leader in Modern Society?

One of the characteristics of a good leader is the ability to adapt to change.
One of the characteristics of a good leader is the ability to adapt to change. (Image: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Leaders exist in many sectors of modern society but are most prominent in business organizations. According to John Schermerhorn Jr., lead author of "Organizational Behavior," the purpose of leadership is to promote adaptive or useful changes. It is a process that involves influencing others to understand and perform certain actions that accomplish objectives that are shared by more than one person. Schermerhorn also maintains that certain traits or characteristics distinguish leaders from non-leaders. Some of these characteristics include emotional maturity, integrity, perseverance and an achievement orientation.

Emotional Maturity

One of the characteristics of a good leader in modern society is emotional maturity. Being an emotional mature person means that an individual is not drastically affected by the normal ups and downs of everyday life. They are able to handle stress levels well and understand social cues. Good leaders tend to be emotionally stable and have the ability to be resilient when facing adverse or emotionally charged situations. They may often exhibit a calm and level-headed demeanor when faced with a crisis.


Good leaders are open communicators who encourage and practice ethical behavior. Followers feel they are able to trust good leaders since they tend to uphold a strong set of values. They are honest about their thoughts, feelings and objectives. Good leaders do not say one thing and act completely differently. They also work in the group's interest rather than their own self-interests.


Good leaders do not give up easily, and strive to keep his team members motivated. They look for the positive in adverse situations and accept challenges readily. They are confident in their own abilities and decisions. Leaders also instill confidence in their teams and motivate them to believe in their individual talents. They do not back down from an obstacle, but instead find creative solutions.


Leaders have a natural desire to achieve excellence and are not comfortable with subpar performance levels. Besides striving toward high levels of performance, leaders take personal responsibility for performance outcomes and the actions that are necessary to achieve them. They also tend to inspire their team members to perform at higher levels and to want the best. Leaders use their knowledge about the tasks that need to be accomplished and seek ways to improve the current methods being used.

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  • "Organizational Behavior," 10th Edition; Schermerhorn, Hunt & Osborn; 2008
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