Three Characteristics of a Leader’s Heart

Leadership is an attitude. Sure, some people have the skills that contribute to success in leadership. But I’m convinced that most leaders, especially the great ones, are those who rise to meet the crisis or opportunity of their generation—not those who master a set of techniques.

The best leaders don’t so much aspire to lead as they are driven to solve problems, create change, and bring progress. So while skill is undoubtedly important for leadership, the leader’s heart is vital.

Here are three signs that you have the inner qualities that make for a great leader.

  1. You Value Results over Rules

Of course a leader must maintain solid ethical, moral, and spiritual boundaries. They do not believe that the end justifies the means. But the best leaders are not slaves to traditions or standard operating procedures. They want to see the right outcome for their efforts.

If you’re a die-hard rule abider, you may struggle in leadership. If improving the product, increasing sales, winning more converts, or graduating more students is more important to you than “the way we do things around here,” you have the heart of a leader.

  1. You Care about Others More Than Self

The greatest leaders are not in it for themselves. Trace the history of great leadership from Gideon to David, from Washington to Lincoln. Each of them would just as well have stayed home—except that others needed their help.

Shallow leaders take on a responsibility to enlarge their own platform, make more money, or hear the applause of the crowd. Great leaders realize that their work is a sacrifice of self. They are driven by a sense of justice and a desire to make life better for others.

If you’re hoping to achieve a great reputation as a leader, you probably won’t. If you care more helping others than getting them to like you, you have the heart of a leader.

  1. You Value Long-Term Improvement over Short-Term Gains

All great leaders take the long view. While they have a sense of urgency, they realize that lasting change is not achieved in an instant. They’re willing to be patient. Think of the young Moses, who resorted to violence to achieve justice, versus the older Moses, who led the people on a decades-long trek toward freedom.  

If you lack the patience to work for weeks, years, even decades toward a goal, you may not be cut out for leadership. If you are willing to work toward results that you may never see, you have the heart of a leader.

What about you? What’s the best indicator you know of great leadership? I’d love to hear your answer on Facebook or Twitter.

-Stan Toler



Featured Resource | Outstanding Leadershipol1-2

With more than 40 years of leadership experience, Stan Toler knows what it takes to empower people to reach organizational and personal goals. He cuts through the mystery and confusion and provides clear guidelines to help you accomplish vital leadership tasks, including…

defining your vision, developing your plan, and communicating clearly to help people buy in to your shared goal overcoming common leadership challenges to create a culture of success building strong relationships and effective teams that make working hard worthwhile.

You’ll find all the tools, tips, and practical guidance you need to help individuals and groups reach their highest potential and fulfill their God-given purpose.