Where Leaders Come to Think

The 5 Most Admirable Characteristics of a Leader


The making of great leadership starts with a healthy perspective. John Maxwell seems to offer the most stout definition concerning leadership when he says, “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”.

Many times there is very little differences between excellent and dangerous. Making the journey towards great leadership even more important.

Experience has proven that, except for God, there are no perfect leaders. Therefore, there are no perfect systems of leadership. Leadership and influence can be learned over time. Unfortunately, these skills come together slowly, as we grow in stature and wisdom.

Let me share with you the five most admirable characteristics of the leaders in my life. These happen to be the characteristics I most admire and have encountered through the years.

The Five Most Admirable Characteristics of a Leader

  • Humility – In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins proved (statistically) that leaders who possessed a strong level of humility plus a high degree of professional willpower perform better. This rings true with me because prior to Jesus walking the earth humility wasn’t even a virtue. As a matter of fact, in the book Humilitas, by Jon Dickson his historical research showed that Jesus of Nazareth was the sole reason humility became a popular virtue. Before Jesus came to save the day, the popular virtue was honor. The fruits of honor are much different from the fruits of humility.

Great leaders can exponentially multiply their effectiveness by owning a grounded sense of true humility.

  • Ability – Working for someone who lacks the basic understanding of the job is extremely difficult. The new reality TV shows like Undercover Boss really illustrate this point clearly. When the leader takes time to gain an insiders understanding of his/her business often times a bountiful harvest produced.

Great leaders commit to life-long learning. They also pay attention to the small details that matter.

  • Connectability – Everyone seems to talk, but few people really connect with others. Connecting is not simply a term used on Twitter when you follow others. We connect with others when we really relate with others.

Success as a connector has little to do with quantity. It does have much to do about quality. You know you have experienced great leadership when you walk away from a conversation having been heard.

  • Winability – There is something about significant influencers that open the pathways for their teams to win often. One of the most significant influencers in my early career was Steve Tracy.Traveling with Steve was fun. He would pick you up in his car and before you reached the passenger seat, a Diet Coke would be waiting for you. “Come on – Let’s get fired up!” The rest of the day would fly by.

Something about Steve made people believe they could win. Made them believe that they should win and most importantly let them know that winning was a perspective that we all needed to grasp.

  • Likeability – Great leaders are likable. Likeability is important because like attracts like. Meaning people tend to gravitate towards people they like. They tend to pack together like wolves. When packed these influencers create powerful formal and informal networks.

The secret to being likable is a burning desire to serve others. Relationships grow over time, and that is exactly how all relationships should develop.

We can understand much about how to develop your leadership through making observations. Observe those who lead you and get feedback from the people you serve as leaders. Give yourself to lifelong learning and by all means invite God into your leadership processes.


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  1. Sergio Wilson
    Sergio Wilson03-26-2013

    This is a very good post Mark, And an excellent source to revisit and be reminded of the characteristic / features of Compelling Leadership.
    Thank you for Sharing

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia03-27-2013

      Thank you Sergio great to have you stopping by the blog. Keep leading well my friend!

  2. RAB

    Nice job! I tried this exercise and could not reduce my number to less than eleven admirable characteristics.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia10-03-2012

      Thanks Roger are you going to leave us all hanging? What would be your top 5 Most Admirable Characteristics of a Leader?

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