Your Thoughts on the Most Important Character Trait of a Leader

Several days ago I tweeted the following question: What do you consider to be the most important leadership character trait? Many of you responded and here are the top five answers that you gave.  I have added some definition and a few additional thoughts to each answer.  This is a good list-thanks for your response!

1. A Servant’s Heart-This answer came back most often.  My sense is that this is about seeing your success through the success of those you lead.  It is other centered leadership.  People respond in powerful ways to true servant leadership.

2. A Good Listener-People want and need to feel heard.  They want to know that their thoughts and contributions matter.  This is a trait that often shows up in 360 reviews of people that have not mastered it yet.

3. A Learner-I have noted several times in this blog that a good leader is a lifetime learner.  The day a leader stops learning is the day his or her leadership foundation begins to erode.  We must especially continue to learn about how to effectively lead the next generation.

4. A Genuine Concern for Others-This trait can be expressed through #2.  Listening is a great starting point for showing concern for those you lead.  But I think it goes beyond that.  There needs to be actions that demonstrate concern-both in a person’s work and their personal life.

5. Grit-This one intrigued me.  Ken Cochrum tweeted this in response and he defined it this way-“The determination to persevere in small daily tasks that add up to big changes over time.”  This trait may be more true today than ever in light of the complexities of 21st century leadership.

What else would you add?

4 responses to “Your Thoughts on the Most Important Character Trait of a Leader

  1. selflessness. It’s related to numero uno, but Christ-like selflessness goes all the way to death for the best of those he loves. Leaders must love those they serve…

  2. What about self-awareness?
    Could be a simple awareness of strengths and weaknesses, knowing what areas to delegate and what areas to really go for it.
    It’s also having an awareness of how we impact others.

    I was recently at an event where I was saying to myself, “Wow, he has no idea” and then wondering how that same thing might be true for me. What was my blind spot?

    It leads me to thoughtfully and frequently ask others for feedback, to become aware of the things that I don’t know that I don’t know – because it will have impact in my ability to effectively lead others, especially if I’m not aware of it.

    It’s also helpful to know when we’re “hitting out of the park” as we lead others.

    Being more aware in both of these areas better positions us to be humble and bold as we lead others.

    • Jeremy-thanks for the comment. I think self awareness is a good trait to consider-I find it usually comes with age and experience. What is especially dangerous is a leader who has led for awhile and is not becoming more self aware-especially in the area of how they are received by others. Your comment on feedback is ciritical-invite feedback from others often-don’t wait for a formal review.

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