Top Qualities for Leadership: What are they?

It seems like everybody wants to know what the top leadership qualities are. The truth is we probably don’t know and that might be perfectly ok. Let me explain …

Hundreds of articles have been written to summarize the top qualities for leadership. Sometimes, I find them to be a bit confusing because it is like pounding a square peg into a round hole. Both because it’s an evolving field, and because it deals with human beings, which are not easily modeled into the same mold.  As we are kicking off our leadership category on I though I would simply ask you!

So, what do you think the top qualities for leadership are?

I can give you a brief history: Long ago, in the age of Monarchs, is was literally your blood line that qualified a person for leadership, at least in a positional power role. As industrialization and economic growth developed especially in the 1800’s, the idea of job specialization, property rights, and management took shape. As industrialization matured, the Great Man theories developed, which basically said that some people are born as leaders. Of course, leadership theories have rapidly changed. Today, we can look at different “styles” of leadership within the broader discipline.

Today many different schools of thought include servant leadership, skills based leadership, some include character trait based leadership like charismatic leadership or command and control are styles as well. Frankly, there are hundreds of leadership models and that might be ok. Other’s argue (correctly by the way) there is a very big difference between leaders and mangers. Don’t be surprised if you find you are the boss someday and you aren’t leading. That is all the proof you will ever need to understand that concept.

The current models of leadership have a healthy diversity of ideas, backgrounds and theories. It reminds me of what C.S. Lewis wrote in his book The Great Divorce 

We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision. Even on the biological level life is not like a river but like a tree. It does not move towards unity but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection. Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.

I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good. Time does not heal it.

– C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce

To have a single list of what makes the best of anything really, but leadership specifically, just doesn’t fit a healthy model of human development or interaction, which is precisely where leadership occurs. We were created not to fit into a rank and file, but to be precisely us. Much of leadership development is just learning that. What are my passions, skills, and talents? How do I work and relate and change others? Different people may need different theories to be applied during their own leadership development.

Most people are in various states of development, in different organizations and healthily continuing to grow and develop into more of who they are more they are. It would make sense then that leadership qualities appear different to each of us.

So I ask again: What does good leadership look like to you? Comment below. You could tell us how good leadership has shaped you, or how you have seen it practiced. Why? What can we learn from you?


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About Chris 759 Articles
Chris Ashbach is one of the founders of Dan330. Chris is a pilot and avid outdoorsman who loves fishing, hunting, camping, and exploring. He loves taking kids (especially his own) on trips to share his passion of the outdoors. Chris is also a gardener, volunteers at Let's Go Fishing, and teaches Sunday school. Chris holds a MA in Organizational Leadership and is faculty at a local university in Minnesota; teaching undergraduate business classes.