The Five Character Traits of a Great Leader


I must give credit to Glen Hellman for this post, as I’ve had many discussions with him on the topic of leadership.  I hope he writes a book one day.

The bar is set high for great leaders.

Every entrepreneur, every politician, every parent, everyone in a position of influence should aspire to become a great leader.  Great leaders leave their legacy behind long after they depart.  They are remembered for decades and centuries later because they made a positive impact on people and the world.

You don’t have to change the entire world to be considered a great leader, but I believe you must possess the five characteristics that define leadership.  Wait….let’s take that a step further, to be a GREAT leader you cannot just possess these characteristics, you must live them. And by live them, I mean every morning you wake up, you set out to exemplify these traits in each decision you make and each conversation you have.  The bar is set high for great leaders.

So what are the five characteristics that define leadership?

  1. Vision – You have a vision of where you (and your team) need to go. You’re always several steps ahead in your mind.  You can see the future, a better future. You have a keen ability to perceive an unimagined reality, but to you it’s simple in your mind.
  2. Courage – No matter how complex, how difficult, whatever it takes you charge ahead seemingly without fear in the direction of your destination. No matter the cost you decided to move forward.
  3. Integrity – You adhere to strict moral and ethical principles. You are uncompromising and honest. You do the right thing.
  4. Communication – You are able to articulate your vision well and inspire others to believe in your future (their future). People understand you and trust you.
  5. Empathy – You are able to identify intellectually with others. You can understand their perspective and how they feel, think and act. You have trust in people.

If we look at the great leaders of today, or those in the history books, we can see these traits among them.  Remove one or more of these traits from the equation and you are not a GREAT leader.  Compare Abraham Lincoln (great leader), to Adolf Hitler (horrible leader).  Both had vision, courage and communication, but only one also had integrity and empathy.

Our world needs more GREAT leaders.  We need more leaders in business, in politics and in the home.  Who do you see today living with these characteristics? Are there other traits you want to see in leaders?  Please share below in the comments.