What Personal Qualities Do Great Leaders Have? (Part 2)

Top 10 Qualities For A Great Leader

There are many bases for leadership: positional, relational, knowledge/information, performance, etc. But real, lasting leadership tends to be based upon influential relationships. Previously, I listed 5 common misunderstandings about leadership. If those misunderstandings are examples of what leadership is not, then what personal qualities do make a great leader?

I started answering that question last week in What Personal Qualities Do Great Leaders Have? (Part 1). Here now are the final 4 of my “Top 10” personal qualities for a leader:

  1. Valuing People. A good leader must have a fundamental value for people. They must care for people, desire to connect with people, be willing to listen to and understand people. This requires the desire and emotional intelligence to develop and maintain deep relationships with people.
  2. Developing People. This is a key distinguishing factor between good and great organizations. A great organization, led by great leaders, does more than give ‘lip service’ to the fact that people are their greatest asset. Valuable assets must be developed. A great leader must have the desire and the ability to teach, coach, and mentor their people to higher levels of performance. This includes developing the leadership potential of those he/she leads.
  3. Servanthood. A truly great leader is a servant leader. He/she has the well-being of the organization and the people within it as his/her primary concern. Just as Jesus is our greatest example, the servant leader will put the needs of his/her people ahead of his own. All the prior personal qualities will be flavored by this quality. The servant leader knows the condition of his people and the organization well – he/she stays close to them and in touch with them. He/she knows them well – their unique qualities, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. He/she builds trust with them, communicates values to them, sets reasonable standards for them, develops them, enables them, removes barriers for them, communicates with them, protects them, personally sets the example for them, and corrects them in a loving way. He/she has the attitude that he/she is there for them, not that they are there for him/her.
  4. Legacy. A leader has a desire to leave a lasting legacy. Legacies tend to take one of two forms – either a legacy of change in people or a legacy of change in achievement / material things. Many leaders spend their life amassing great fortunes, often at the expense of people, sometimes even their own families. Some leaders focus on achievement – perhaps growing a large church. But counting ‘nickels and noses’ is no way to measure one’s legacy. This type of legacy is temporal and will not last. A great leader will focus on leaving a lasting legacy, one that impacts many future generations. This is only done through people. It is accomplished by being the type of leader that others want to model themselves after. And it is done by the personal investment of the leader into the lives of those he interacts with – developing the leadership potential of those he/she leads.

You may disagree with some of these qualities, but my experience has shown these are among the most critical qualities for effective leadership. It’s true; there are certainly many other qualities that could be added to the list. Feel free to comment on this list and/or add your own qualities. If you check back over the coming weeks, I’ll explore each of these qualities in more detail.

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