What Makes a Great Leader?

Child superhero portrait

Over the years, I’ve become fairly perceptive at recognizing qualities that make a poor leader. It’s probably because I’ve placed one too many people in leadership positions, and realized they were doing more harm than good. Thankfully we can learn and grow from our mistakes. Here’s my short list of characteristics of a not-so-great leader.
Generally speaking it’s not a good idea to choose a person for leadership who:
• Tends to gossip or look down on others.
• Complains rather than finds solutions.
• Has no initiative and can’t make decisions.
• Doesn’t work well with people.
• Is a discourager rather than an encourager.
• Is self-centered – in it for themselves.
• Is constantly wondering what people think about them.
• Has an aversion to hard work and serving others.
• Lacks determination and drive.

What would you add to the list? It’s easy to think up a list of negative qualities born out of our own experiences, but it takes a little more thought and insight to come up with a list of positive leadership qualities. One characteristic that seems to surface in great leaders is their ability to motivate others. For some, this intangible ability to inspire and influence seems to come naturally, while other leaders discover their ability to impassion people through the School of Hard Knocks. How can we unleash our inner influence and ability to inspire?

In his book, Visioneering, Andy Stanley described a great leader in the Bible, Nehemiah: “He was just a regular guy who caught a divine glimpse of what could and should be. And then went after it with all his heart.” In reading the story of Nehemiah, there are several themes that continue to surface again and again. These seem to be the key to Nehemiah’s inspiring leadership abilities. I would encourage you as a leader to read the story of Nehemiah yourself and discover the powerful lessons of his life. Here’s the principles I glean from his example:
• He possessed a personal and heart-felt passion for the project.
• He was committed to the mission and determined to see it through.
• He was persistent despite the challenges.
• He sincerely cared about the protection and well-being of the people.
• He appealed to people’s hearts and core motivation, not just the external.
• He put the right people in the right positions, utilizing their gifts and talents.
• He wasn’t swayed by the opposition or people’s opinions.
• He empowered the people to do their jobs well.
• He prayed for God’s direction throughout every twist and turn.

We can all use an example to inspire and teach us when it comes to leadership. Nehemiah is one of my heroes. Who inspires and teaches you?

Positive Leadership Principles for Women: 8 Secrets to Inspire and Impact Everyone Around You

By Karol Ladd / Harvest House Publishers

As a woman you have the chance to make a positive difference in your family, community, and society. In Positive Leadership for Women Karol Ladd uses examples from the lives of people in the Bible to highlight eight godly leadership principles and attitudes that will inspire you to grow in your role as a godly influencer.

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