Four Key Qualities of Successful Leaders

Leadership is an essential skill for any organization. Not only do businesses need good leaders but church needs them also. Church leaders, especially Pastors, need to lead their flock so that spiritual as well as practical growth is experienced.

Several years ago, I wrote an article about the importance of leadership. This article targeted the business world as well as the church world. As I look at today's society and the issues that face us at all levels (government, business, church, community, home, etc.), I believe it is appropriate to share this article once again. Hopefully the brief points made in this article will positively impact your life.


In this ever-changing business environment impacted by global events, strong leadership is a key success factor for any organization. Whether the organization is large or small, for-profit or not-for-profit, those who lead must have the ability to move their organization into a position to compete. This often means succeeding with inherited resources, sub-optimal market share and limited funding. For those who have succeeded, leadership has been a key success factor.

During my twenty-four years of experience, there are number of common attributes that I’ve seen in successful leaders but four truly standout. These attributes do not apply to organizations that believe assembling a group of “heroes” (individuals trying to succeed through their own efforts) will allow it to have tremendous growth. In general, a healthy company or organization has all of its resources (people and other assets) working together to achieve the next level of success.

First, today’s leaders must have a level of integrity. In this instance, I am not referring to someone living a perfect professional, social and personal life. Today’s leaders need to do what they say and are honest in their decision-making. Over the years, the successful leaders that I have witnessed have been willing to be honest with their employees regarding tough decisions as well as pleasant ones. As I have heard it said in the past, “people need to be treated as adults and not as children”.

Having a vision as to where the organization is going is critical. Without the employees grasping this vision, it cannot achieve the next level of growth that all organizations desire. Great leaders have the ability to paint a vivid picture in the minds of its employees as to where the organization is going and the road it must travel to get there. If they can see and understand the vision, they can “buy in” to the direction and focus their attention on the success of the organization. In the 1980’s, Bill Gates constantly shared with his organization the vision for Microsoft and his employees worked together to achieve the goal. At Apple, Steve Jobs has done the same which has caused his organization to constantly achieve new levels of success. This ability to paint the vision married with the attribute of integrity causes organizations to begin to move.

This next attribute can be difficult for some leaders to exhibit, depending on their management style. Successful leaders must lead by example. When warranted, I have seen successful leaders be among the first to make personal sacrifices. In a few cases, I’ve seen leaders purposely “downsize” their executive amenities in order to work in the same conditions, side-by-side, with their workforce. Other successful leaders regularly make time in their schedules to spend with their employees to listen to ideas and suggestions. It is amazing how simple efforts such as these positively impact the organization.

The last attribute is execution. Regardless of the experience or political connections a person may have, the successful leader is ultimately measured on how well he can execute. Over the years, I have known many smart people who could think strategically, but those who were successful were those who could execute. Successful execution depends on a number of factors such as the appropriate skillset of your employees, sufficient financial resources, the business climate and much more but I would suggest having a culture of execution is critical. From my perspective, execution is the ability to accomplish a goal or get something done. Good leaders make it easy for their employees to get work accomplished. They remove all internal, unnecessary impediments because they know that one of the main ingredients to employee happiness with a job is their ability to accomplish something meaningful. Too many times have I heard stories of organizations loosing key personnel because it was too hard for the employees to get work done.

Today’s business environment is starving for great leadership. Leveraging these qualities will help propel you on your way to becoming one of today’s great leaders.

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