Becoming a Great Leader

What makes some leaders stand out as great while others are seen as average? Why do some leaders succeed wherever they are while some leaders struggle?

You may be familiar with the saying, “Leaders are born not made.” While the saying remains debatable, most will agree that there are certain core qualities, whether natural or learned, that all successful and great leaders possess.

They know what they want and how to surround themselves with those who can help them accomplish what is needed. These leaders know exactly want they want because they are good at vision-casting and goal setting. Because they know what they want, they don’t get bogged down with the details; rather they bring people alongside to handle the details necessary to accomplish the goals.

Importantly, successful leaders do not surround themselves with “yes” people, those who agree with everything they say or do. They are wise enough to know they need people who will be honest and courageous enough to disagree with them.

They know their strengths and weaknesses. This is one of the biggest areas of struggle for many leaders. Many leaders deny or mask their weaknesses because they conclude that a leader who admits to weakness compromises their role as leader. However, the opposite is true; when a leader admits to areas of weakness (or limitations); followers generally trust and respect them even more.

The leaders who know and accept their own strengths and weaknesses will also be more accepting of the strengths and weaknesses of those they lead. They tend to be less judgmental of failings and mistakes and more supportive and patient.

They are emotionally mature. Few things are more unnerving and discouraging than dealing with an emotionally immature leader. You have no idea how the day will go; for that matter, you have no idea how the conversation will go. You have to walk around on egg shells, and try not to say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question.

On the other hand, emotionally mature leaders are not controlled by their emotions; rather they control their emotions. Followers do not fear emotional outbursts, being yelled at or embarrassed in from of others.

An emotionally mature leader can express negative emotions of anger, sadness and disappointment without disrespecting, embarrassing or hurting those they lead.

They know they don’t have to know everything. Do you know someone who never admits to not knowing the answer? They will always have an answer for you even if it’s wrong. Successful leaders are not afraid to say, “I don’t know the answer but I will find out and get back to you”; or “I know someone who can answer that question.”

Similar to admitting to weaknesses, some leaders think that admitting they do not know will compromise their leadership. Successful leaders know that when they admit to not knowing, they are empowering their followers to do the same rather than pretending to know – which could result in wasting valuable resources.

What successful leaders know is that while they do not have to know everything, they do know how to get everything done. And they do so by surrounding themselves with followers they know can get things done.

As you reflect on your leadership role, how would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 -10 in each of the above areas? Now take those ratings and have coffee with someone under your leadership and ask them to rate you, and then compare the results. This calls for vulnerability and honesty. But the results may just be what is needed to move you from being a good leader to becoming a great leader.

If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.