“A real leader is one who makes leaders instead of followers.” – Pawan Kabra.

Leadership Quality and Organizational Success

Leadership quality is inextricably intertwined with organizational success. Pinpointing exactly which leadership qualities matter the most for achieving success is almost impossible at first glance, however. Depending on whom you ask, you will get answers covering every nook and cranny of the John Mattone Wheel of Intelligent Leadership.

Strong leaders build meaningful connections with their reports. 

That said, it makes sense to consider leadership qualities from the perspective of employees. Leaders have to be able to build meaningful connections with their followers, empowering them and providing opportunities through which they can assume leadership roles as well.

The perception of quality leadership differs from one employee generation to another, from one set of circumstances to another, and from one person to another.

Through a structured questionnaire approach, researchers have managed to narrow down the list of top leadership qualities, according to employees, of integrity and fairness.

The effectiveness of a leader in improving organizational outcomes hinges on whether he or she can maximize the contributions of employees while building trust and goodwill for the company. Integrity and fairness play into both of these outcomes.


In the context of intelligent leadership, we can define integrity as a combination of reliability, honesty, trustworthiness, and everything that these traits entail.

In my leadership development books, I have identified integrity as an essential ingredient of several inner- and outer-core leadership competencies.

The central element of effective communication is the leader’s ability to create genuine relationships. As I have pointed out in my book “Intelligent Leadership,” to build such relationships, a leader needs to be respectful, approachable, open, warm and regarded as a person of integrity within the organization.

Maintaining standards of trustworthiness and honesty (i.e., integrity) is also essential for effective self-management and self-regulation and thus a central element of emotional intelligence.


Observing standards of fairness lends credibility and clout to leaders, enhancing their ability to delegate and empower.

In the context of employee empowerment, fairness translates to a balance of responsibility and authority. Delegating responsibility to employees without authority is unfair. Delegating authority without responsibility is dangerous and does not make good business sense.

Employees Also Look For These Qualities

In addition to integrity and fairness, employees also value decisiveness, strategic thinking, transparency, and accessibility in their leaders.

With that in mind, we can easily define a clear and simple plan of action for leaders to improve their abilities and standing in the eyes of their employees.

  • Leading by example is one of the most efficient ways to build trust and showcase integrity. Setting the right example through action and behavior will inspire reports/employees to follow suit. Such behavior sends the message that a person of integrity who “walks the walk” will accept nothing less from those he or she leads.
  • Honesty is the foundation of integrity and the right answer to any problem. As a leader, always inform your employees as accurately as possible about events that affect them. If you do not have much information to share, reassure them that you will try to find out more and let them know.
  • Give your employees ample opportunities for growth and support their careers. Stand up for them when the circumstances call for such a course of action. Let them know that they can count on you in a squeeze.

Intelligent leaders empower and provide opportunities.

As more and more millennials enter the workforce and become executives, an emphasis on adaptability and collaboration will gain ground over the traditional vertical hierarchical structures. Integrity and fairness fit well into this new leadership paradigm.


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