Sunday, March 16, 2008

5 Qualities of a Leader

I have been studying leadership for quite some time now. I have been fortunate enough to meet some very good leaders. I have listened and learned from them and learned their theories and styles. I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted with experienced industry leaders and with new and upcoming leaders. Through the course of all this I have been able to distill down the many lessons I have learned and I have come up with what I believe is a formula for success. I see certain qualities in experienced leaders and I see ideas in the new and upcoming leaders that seem to be constant. These qualities are evident in historical leaders as well. Leaders such as Lincoln, Wilberforce, Gandhi, Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, and others. I also see these qualities in modern day achievers and most importantly I see these qualities in the everyday achievers. I have narrowed it down to 5 common qualities and they are as follows
  1. Successful people never let circumstances dictate the outcome. Successful people learn to respond to their circumstances. They know that they cannot always control what happens, but they can control how they respond to what happens.
  2. Successful people are persistent. They have their big idea and they stick with it.
  3. Successful people take a realistic inventory of their talents and abilities. They recognize their personal strengths and weaknesses. They play to their own strengths and overcome their weaknesses by capitalizing on the strengths of others.
  4. Successful people are resilient. They recognize that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. They do not fear failure they embrace it. They see every failure as a step closer to the realization of their dreams. They become masters of overcoming obstacles and staying focused on a positive outcome.
  5. Successful people have passion. They are faithful and they pursue their dreams with a constant vigor and they love deeply. They do not fear rejection and loss as much as they fear living without a purpose.

I know that there is much more to being a leader, but I have found these 5 qualities to be constant in the successful people that I have met and studied. I will be writing a lot on these 5 qualities over the coming months. I look forward to creating dialogue and getting some feedback. until then take care and keep learning and growing.


Trevor Gay said...

A great list Rocky and I agree with you on these five qualities. I think you will create a good dialogue on these issues. I will mention this discussion on my Blog so that hopefully you will get some comments via Simplicity.

Good luck with this Amigo - The qualities of leadership is, as you know, one of my passions!

I will join the discussion of course :-)

Rosa said...

Well done Rocky. While I too would agree that these five qualities are recurring ones found in the successful leader (for they are far from ‘common’), what has me cheering for you as I read is that you have done this to craft a statement of Ho‘ohana (purposeful intent). By “this” I mean make assembly of your learning up to now (for curious learner that you continue to be, you will surely tweak this over time if you stick with your focus-in-five) into a form and shape you are willing to commit to and put your signature on, for that initiative and statement of an idea is the mark of leadership. Rocky, you have demonstrated your leadership as you have written about it. For me, this reads as a personal value statement for you.

Thematic goal setting in our writing is so powerful in the way it draws out the best of us, and I am eager to read what will follow as you explore these qualities. Now that you have committed… “the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would have otherwise never occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
Which no person could have dreamt would have come their way.”

—W. H. Murray, Scottish Himalayan Expedition 1951

Rocky said...

Thanks Trevor and Rosa. I am so grateful to have wonderful friends that are always ready to lend a kind word and assistance when the acasion arises. Having the information posted on your Simplicity is the Key site is an honor. I very much appreciate our friendship and our business workings.

Rosa, I absolutely love the quote. It is true that action creates energy and all sorts of good things happen when one makes a commitment. I am so looking forward to getting deeper into this. My confidence is strong after going through a bit of a tough time and I am ready to move forward. Thanks for all of your support and lets Get busy.

hucknjim said...


Love your list but I think you left something out. The best leaders I have known listen. They don't pretend to listen and then go on to do as they've always done. They truly listen and, if possible, integrate the ideas they've heard into their larger vision. That, to me, is how beneficial change comes about. I'm looking forward to a continued discussion.

Rocky said...

Thanks hucknjim,
You are absolutely right on the listening point. I had the opportunity to meet and know Booker Noe (No relation) He led the Jim Beam Company for 50 years. He did a lot of things to revolutionize the bourbon business. He was a very popular personality and had many celebrity friends. However, he was so down to earth that he could talk to anyone and would talk to anyone. The thing that always stood out to me is that he always wanted to know about the person he was talking to. He was a master at listening and anyone that ever worked with him always talked about he would listen. He was a great leader. We will definitely have to incorporate the art of listening into our conversations. Thanks so much for the insight.

Scott Farmer said...


What a list. I have spent the last 16 months in an Organizational Leadership program and your list is as good as any. My area of intrest is focused on the passion of purpose. I believe that one can't truly enjoy life without aligning with their life with purpose. Nikos Mourkogiannis wrote a great book, "Purpose the Starting Point of Great Companies", it is a great read about purpose and how it inspires who we are.
One dynamic worth mentioning is how a leader's passion becomes a shared vision in the organization. This even becomes a passion of their clients. Case in point, I am a Kentuckian by birth and I share a passion with the aforementioned Booker Noe. I shutter at the thought of my beloved Jim Beam without the purpose turned passion of Mr. Noe.

Rocky said...

Thanks for the comment. I too am a big fan of Passion. I was fortunate enough to become good friends with Booker Noe. I often asked him about what he felt was most important in business and he consistently said that it is passion. He was full of passion and was a great leader. More importantly, he was just a good man. I have posted an article I wrote just after Booker died. I titled it passion because that was one of his dominant qualities. I hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

It's a start. After meeting many similar successful leaders I would have to say that while some have the qualities you list, most do not particularly in relation the realistic inventory of themselves. In fact many Leaders have an unrealistic and distorted perspective of themselves ie. Pres. George Bush. As for passion, well, I would not equate blind arrogance with faithful pursuit of dreams. While I admire any attempt to define the common characteristics of successful leadership I find these so ridiculous they are amusing.

Rocky said...

Well amused and nameless I am glad that you got amused. See even you got something from it.

Dave Wheeler said...


Trevor Gay e-mailed me the link to your site and told me a "visit" would be worthwhile...he was absolutely correct. I have always found that great blogs have two charecteristics,,,they make you think and move you to act. I guess you could say "anonymous" and I agree you have a great blog!

The five qualities you list is indeed a great start and as you point out, there are many more as well. Personally I found that the list of charecteristics you used in describing what the Hillbilly PhD is about be qualities I have observed in those I would consider to be leaders versus those who are viewed as "managers". Trustworthiness, Effort, Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Forgiveness, Iniative, and Caring are all essential if a leader is to gain the trust, confidence, and support of those they are priviledged to lead. They establish credibility, which is a leader's greatest commodity!

rocky said...

Thanks Dave,
I agree with you that there are so many qualities that go into effective leadership that there is no real way to quantify it. The best leaders I know do embody the 5 that I listed. Making a list of 50 probably would not be enough. However, you hit on a great point. Any one that is going to lead, either by choice or by default, must have credibility. They have to be believable and they have to have integrity. Without credibility it unlikely that anyone would follow regardless of any other qualities. Thanks for checking out the site and stay passionate about leadership.

Henry From Botswana said...

I must confess this are exciting lists of qualities of great leaders.

One thing I want to point out is that we don't need to see presidents, leaders of Big organsiations to see people with great leadership qualities.

We need to look around us. We would see some of this qualities exibited by people we interact with.

Finnally, 2 points have come out clearly from contributions of other in this topic: Listening and creditability. The later is built over time, the followers must watch their leader over time to see how he responds to situations and whether he puts into consideration their concerns as a proof of listening. This takes time to observe, as leaders therefore we must be ready be ready to let time determine our success or failure.

rocky said...

Thanks Henry,
You are absolutely coreect when you say "we don't need to see presidents, leaders of Big organsiations to see people with great leadership qualities. We need to look around us. We would see some of this qualities exibited by people we interact with." Many times Our most powerful examples are a part of our daily lives. We can benefit greatly by using them as mentors.

Finding a mentor that embodies qualities of integrity, credibility, honestry, fairness, etc... is very powerful, especially when they are present in your daily interactions.

Great Response Henry!! Looking forward to more dialogue

Debra said...


Hi Rocky,

In response to "anonymous", I must disagree. While I understand his comment, I do not take it to heart. I for one have excelled in the past 20 years due to a "passion" for helping the underprivileged. At age 30 I received my GED (I was pregnant and married at age 16). I then worked hard "putting in a hard days work" and earned my real estate license (PhD). In my second year I topped the $1 million dollar mark in sales. Primarily in assisting low income families secure their first home; a "passion".

In 1997, I was fortunate enough to work with a non-profit organization that treats and cares for abused and neglected children in securing a site for a group home. The Vice President of the organization was impressed with my attention to detail and my dedication to making sure they acquired the most appropriate site that I was offered a job in assisting with the opening of the group home. I began as an administrative assistant and within four years I had moved through the ranks to become an officer in the fundraising division. This was due to my passion for children, especially underprivileged children. I am now a consultant for this agency and to date I have assisted in raising more than $22 million dollars in grants and fundraising. This includes assisting homeless teenagers, foster care youth, family preservation and reunification, educational facilities, recreational programs, chemical dependency programs, mental health care, animal therapy, psychiatric facilities; I could go on. Again, this is due to my "passion" for helping the underprivileged.

Again, I understand what anonymous is saying, but without "passion" I could very well be living on welfare today.

rocky said...

What a great comment. You exemplify what the Hillbilly PHD is all about. It is not always the academic credentials that show the true value of a persons capabilities. In the article I stated that the successful people that I know display at least 5 qualities.It is not limited to these 5 but I find them prevalent in every successful person I have met or studied. They are 1. Not letting circumstances dictate the outcome. 2.being persistent. 3. capitalizing on your talents and the talents of others. 4.being resilient and 5. Having passion.

You obviously embody all of these qualities. I applaud you for the great things you have accomplished. Your ability to overcome your circumstances, persistently pursuing your dreams, capitalizing on your talents and those of others, your resilience, and your passion have paid off for you and countless other people. There is real genius in what you have done. For this I will gladly award you with your Hillbilly PhD. It is not much but it is a reminder of your accomplishments

Anonymous said...

I think we can add to this list self denying and always appraising others in case of success while blaming himself on case of failure
we can say the true leader will look out of the window when the organization succeeds and will look in the mirror if failure occurs.

And I disagree with the fact that George Bush is a leader because he fails one of the true leader characteristics which is honesty and integrity

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