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Notable Character and Qualities of a Great Leader

by | Mar 15, 2016 | Leadership & Management

A lot of content has been written about various skillsets good leaders possess. The Internet is chocked full of opinions from just about everyone. Millions of dollars have been made from the sales of hundreds of thousands of books on this topic.

Briefly, a few online opinions I stumbled upon include: be fearless and inspirational, use vision and values, create the right culture, listen, remain visible, be authentic and transparent, learn from failure, etc.

In preparation for this blog, I knew I did not want to follow the pack and add to the litany of titles, such as 9 Characteristics of an Epic Leader or 8 Top Characteristics of a Great Leader. I did not want to focus on the capabilities and competencies of a great leader. Maybe that is a blog to be written on another day. Today, I wanted to focus more on what is behind those acquired skillsets. I want to consider the character and qualities that is the foundation of the makeup of a heroic leader.

In other words, I want to talk about the ‘who’ and not the ‘do.’ After all, character makeup is how and what skills are built upon.

Though there are many definitions for the word ‘character,’ I’d like to home in on two found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

  • One of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual.
  • The good qualities of a person that usually include moral or emotional strength, honesty, and fairness.

Zig Ziglar, a man whom I admired very much, seemed to be a man of solid character who succeeded in rising from a champion seller to master motivator. It is said that he ‘invested his life helping others get everything they want out of life.’ That could be one summation of what a good leader is.

I believe Zig grew into a valiant leader because of his high moral character. Having had the opportunity to attend one of his seminars many years ago, I was not disappointed. He appeared to be who I expected after having read a couple of his books.

Here are a few traits he considered as being of good character: honesty, humor, friendliness, confidence, integrity, persistence, humility, goal-setter, decisive, hard-worker, learner, positive mental attitude, compassionate, disciplined, dedicated, faithful, dependable, knowledgeable, loving, enthusiastic, motivated, patient, loyal, organized, good listener, and empathetic.

Though I agree with all those traits, after careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that for me the most powerful quality a great leader can possess is meekness. Wait a minute! I know what you’re thinking. But, please, hear me out.

I’m not talking about what our common conception of meekness is. I am referring to what one Greek word for meekness actually means. That is, ‘the wild horse that has become obedient to the bit and bridle.’ In other words, this particular word translated actually means ‘strength under control.’

After all, doesn’t a good leader have to be able to handle constant adversity, remain strong, stay in control – all with patience, calmness, and restraint?

What do you think – about the trait of meekness and about this topic in general? What characteristics do you think are important for a good leader to possess? Please let me know. We’ll add to Zig’s list.


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