Characteristics of a Good Leader

Although it is debated the question of what are the characteristics of a good leader is asked by many throughout the world. The problem is there is no absolute answer except to say that there have been many great leaders throughout history that possess similar characteristics; therefore, we make the assumption that in order to be a good or great leader one must possess those characteristics.

However, let’s look at the other side of that same coin. Hitler rose to power through what we must assume were his very good leadership skills. I would not jump to the conclusion that we must possess the characteristics that Hitler had in order to be a good leader.

Having said all the above we will use caution as we discuss the characteristics of a good leader.

Let’s first discuss that all leaders have an almost inextinguishable passion for what they believe in. It doesn’t necessarily have to make sense to anyone else! Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken was told “No” to his idea over nine hundred times before hearing a yes. We all know how that turned out. He had a passion that his idea was a winner and he didn’t stop until he made his idea a reality. Most people stop at the first or second time they are rejected.

The second characteristic that leaders have is the ability to communicate that passion in a way that others become passionate also. They are able to create a desire by all to follow them no matter what the odds are. In fact in many ways the greater the odds are against them the more desire their followers possess. Almost infectious! Some would call this charisma and they would be correct!

Other characteristics of a good leader would be the ability to adjust to changing situations on the fly. Not every situation is the exact same and based on the circumstances a great leader makes adjustments that place them in a positive situation. As an example I have four children all raised by my wife and I of thirty years. Not one of those children is the same. They all respond differently to us. If we would have tried to use the same logic on each of them we would have failed. A good leader understands their followers and adjusts to what stimulates them.

A great leader is able to prioritize, yet balance the needs of all involved in the mission. This is probably the piece that is most difficult and in the case of a horrible leader like Hitler he was unable to do it successfully. In fact he failed miserably at it and instead of his followers following him for the right reasons they followed him because they were terrified of him. So to explain this in simple terms let’s use a basic business example. A successful business is built on taking care of the customer, employee, and of course the owner. If any of those receives more benefit than another for too long a period it will become unbalanced and sooner or later will fail. Many unionized companies fail for this reason.

So in our example let’s say that the employees are receiving higher salaries than normal for their type of work. This means that the customer will have to pay more for the product and/or the owner will receive less in profit. If the customer feels they can get a better deal somewhere else for less they will do it. If the owner must give up too much of their profit they will take their money and invest it somewhere else. In the end the business dies.

If the owner chooses to profit more by using an inferior product and paying their employees less than normal sooner or later the customer and the employees will leave. Again the business dies.

And finally if the customer is getting something great for the same price of something far less superior it will result in the employee’s wages being less and the owner not profiting as they should. Business dies!

Having said all the above a valuable characteristic of a good leader is the ability to balance those needs so that everyone is motivated to continue. Of course there will be times that it is unbalanced but this can only happen for very short periods of time. A good leader will recognize this quickly and compensate by making the necessary adjustments and moving on. In simple terms it is much like babysitting ten children and tending to their needs as they arise. Certain needs can be handled as a group like eating lunch, putting coats on to go outside and perhaps putting everyone down for a nap. On the other hand you will have to deal individually with those times someone takes someone else’s toy, falls and scrapes their knee, or has to use the restroom.

These are just a few of the characteristics of a good leader. Hope this was helpful.

Thank you and may God bless you

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