20 Timeless Characteristics Of Quality Leaders

20 Timeless Characteristics Of Quality Leaders

Many would argue beneficial results within the world hinged on quality leadership. Yet leadership remains something of an elusive art; often we only see what worked in hindsight. Dozens of the world’s best leaders have had multiple traits in common, a few of which are detailed below. Regardless of the reason you’re interested in becoming a better leader, the following characteristics will timelessly serve you and your team towards success.

    Credit: Pixabay

    1. Great Leaders Understand There’s No Such Thing As Perfect Timing

    Indeed, perfect timing is a myth that remains mired in fairy tales and Hollywood movies. In real life, the only things that happen are those that happen right now. After all, you only have today and there is no telling what tomorrow may bring. Seize today as the gift it is and make the most of the resources you and your team have been blessed with.

      Credit: Pixabay

      2. Great Leaders Celebrate The Individual

      The United States and many other developed nations often put heavy emphasis on the individual. There is tangible social pressure that tries to convince everyone of having a flashy car, huge home and perfect-looking partner. Individual success is heralded as the apex of accuracy, all the while frequently overlooking what it actually means to be an individual.

      The best leaders understand each individual brings unique talents and insights to the table, and treats them accordingly. When everyone has distinct treasure to share, no one person is more or less valuable than the other. Each person has a puzzle piece that makes the larger image sharper, and fantastic leaders take the time to cultivate this into reality.


        Credit: Pexels

        3. Great Leaders Have Voluntary Followers

        Leadership is occasionally viewed as a title that’s given, rather than a respect that’s earned. In truth, it’s the latter, not the former. True leaders have voluntary followers. Individuals in the corporate world with “leader” somewhere in their title can indeed be leaders, but it is not a given. The best leaders earn trust and respect with others before they seek to maximize their leadership gifts.

          Credit: Pixabay

          4. Great Leaders Genuinely Like People

          Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that leadership doesn’t always involve genuinely liking people. Sadly, too many people have experienced ego-centric leadership – someone who was supposed to be leading and was instead berating. Authentic leaders genuinely like people because they understand value cannot be added to an entity that is not inherently valued.

            Credit: Pexels

            5. Great Leaders Are Meek

            The best leaders don’t have to shout to get your attention or threaten you with trouble if you aren’t “good enough.” No; the best leaders are meek individuals, who prioritize win-win conversations with each person on their team. Meek people also have no need to don a bravado attitude around the workplace or in life. They use humility and common ground to gain and share influence.

              Credit: Pexels

              6. Great Leaders Give More Than They Take

              Life is too short not to go all out. Accordingly, great leaders understand giving their team their best is a surefire way to boost success. Great leaders give more than they take, not because no one is pouring into them, but because they’re that enthusiastic about the team they’re building.


                Credit: Pexels

                7. Great Leaders Know Their Shortcomings

                There’s nothing worse than a know-it-all leader – the type of person who you want to trust and confide in but who only makes you feel dumb and insignificant. The best leaders don’t assume they know it all – in fact, they readily acknowledge their shortcomings. Wonderful leaders value their team enough to ask for help when and where they need it.

                  Credit: Pexels

                  8. Great Leaders Surround Themselves With Complementary People And Skills

                  The leaders shaping today and tomorrow understand that projects with enduring impact require a breadth and depth of various talents and visions. Therefore, they aren’t reluctant about seeking out individuals with differing skill sets. A team where everyone has the same weak spots is a recipe for disaster, so great leaders do everything they can to build a mutually supportive and watertight team.

                    Credit: Pixabay

                    9. Great Leaders Understand They Won’t Always Receive Recognition, And Press On Anyways

                    Leadership is often a thankless task, especially when one’s work challenges the status quo or requires immense unorthodox thinking. Depending on one’s industry or craft, the true leader of a project may not always be seen in the forefront. Great leaders recognize they won’t always be in the limelight, and continue pouring out their best effort anyways.

                      Credit: Pexels

                      10. Great Leaders Rise From The Ashes Of Failure

                      Failure is a painful but necessary step on the road of leadership. The innate response is to cower in fear or lower one’s standards, but incredible leaders understand every failure and mistake teaches them something. They use their newfound experience to make them smarter, stronger and wiser.


                        Credit: Pexels

                        11. Great Leaders Remember To Say Thank You

                        Seeing a team successfully complete a project invariably leads to celebration and feelings of accomplishment. What isn’t always handled so well is expressions of appreciation. Top-shelf leaders remember that saying thank you is one of the most necessary small gifts they can give, and deliver this with consistency.

                          Credit: Pexels

                          12. Great Leaders Understand Leaders Come In All Shapes, Sizes And Ages

                          At times, there seems to be a subcultural whisper that leadership only comes in specific types of packages (aesthetically speaking). Fortunately, this is nothing more than a myth! If leadership were only available from certain types of people, our world would be limited to certain types of gifts. Leadership is a virtue that extends beyond academia, corporate meetings and scientific labs. The best leaders know we can learn from everyone, and listen to individuals of different backgrounds accordingly.

                            Credit: Pexels

                            13. Great Leaders Don’t Make Or Accept Excuses

                            Teams and leaders themselves don’t always see how to get to the next step or are afraid to commit. Talented leaders refuse to accept excuses – for themselves or their team. Excuses only deflate the potential of excellence, and leaders see to it that clear communication defeats any need for half-baked effort.

                              Credit: Pexels

                              14. Great Leaders Don’t Overlook The Small Things

                              Skilled leaders know that it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Similarly, leaders understand that providing details and tightening up loose ends is as important as casting a gripping vision.


                                Credit: Pixabay

                                15. Great Leaders Don’t Ask For Permission To Do Great Things Or Change The World

                                Leadership occasionally comes down to calculated risk. Accordingly, the most courageous leaders understand they don’t need permission to change the world. Radical action often requires immediacy more than caution.

                                  Credit: Pexels

                                  16. Great Leaders Are Compassionate

                                  The best leaders don’t need to act like they are better than anyone else. Subsequently, the strongest leaders are also the most compassionate, looking for creative ways in which to support the needs and interests of the voiceless.

                                    Credit: Pexels

                                    17. Great Leaders Forgive People For Their Mistakes – Including Themselves

                                    Even though individuals place immense trust in leaders, everyone is human, and leaders sometimes make mistakes. This includes team members that leaders oversee. Emotionally intelligent leaders forgive themselves and others for honest mishaps.

                                      Credit: Pixabay

                                      18. Great Leaders Give Other People The Credit

                                      Speaking of looking out for others, reliable leaders are quick to give others the credit, and take a bit more than their share of the responsibility. Life is too short to hoard all the results for yourself, so leaders understand that sharing credit boosts trust, morale, happiness and engagement.

                                        Credit: Pexels

                                        19. Great Leaders Are Great Stewards

                                        The best leaders use everything they have to the best of their ability. People are a leader’s most valuable asset, and stewardship with humans comes down to consistently adding value. Leaders love their people and remain great stewards through consistently adding value.

                                          Credit: Pexels

                                          20. Great Leaders Tell The Truth, Are Humble And Listen

                                          Last but never least, incredible leaders always tell the truth, are humble and listen. Telling the truth is rarely comfortable, being humble requires thinking of others often and listening well takes a lifetime to master, but these are three of a leader’s strongest qualities, and only the finest commit to mastering them.

                                          More by this author

                                          Brad Johnson

                                          Top 5 Kindle Author | Author of 10 Books

                                          entrepreneurs 12 Little Known Facts About Famous Entrepreneurs leaders 20 Timeless Characteristics Of Quality Leaders belly fat 9 Reasons Your Belly Fat Doesn’t Go Away And How To Get Rid Of It language Did You Know This Many People Speak This Language? graphic design All The Choices You Get For Graphic Design In One Place

                                          Trending in Career Advice

                                          1 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 2 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 3 10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day 4 50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

                                          Read Next


                                          Published on March 20, 2019

                                          How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

                                          How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

                                          Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

                                          As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

                                          While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

                                          What is a Mission Statement?

                                          Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

                                          In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

                                          “Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

                                          In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

                                          Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

                                          While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

                                          First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

                                          While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

                                          While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

                                          “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

                                          This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

                                          What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

                                          When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.


                                          Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

                                          When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

                                          • What we do?
                                          • How we do it?
                                          • Whom do we do it for?
                                          • What value are we bringing?

                                          Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

                                          After all, that did check off all the boxes:

                                          What we do? Provide widgets.

                                          How we do it? Online.

                                          Who do we do it for? The consumer.

                                          What value we bring? The best widgets.

                                          The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

                                          Compare that mission statement to this one:

                                          “We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

                                          What’s the difference?

                                          Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

                                          Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.


                                          You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

                                          A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

                                          Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

                                          1. Keep It Brief

                                          Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

                                          You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

                                          2. Have a Purpose

                                          A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

                                          Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

                                          3. Include a “How”

                                          Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

                                          How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

                                          4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

                                          This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

                                          Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

                                          5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

                                          It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

                                          Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

                                          6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

                                          Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

                                          7. Think Long Term

                                          A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.


                                          8. Get Feedback

                                          This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

                                          Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

                                          9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

                                          You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

                                          First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

                                          And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

                                          For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

                                          The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

                                          It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

                                          First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

                                          If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

                                          Strategic Planning

                                          A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

                                          Measuring Performance

                                          By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

                                          Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

                                          Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

                                          Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

                                          As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.


                                          Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

                                          To Hold Management Accountable

                                          By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

                                          So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

                                          If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

                                          To Serve as an Example

                                          This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

                                          After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

                                          Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

                                          Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

                                          Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

                                          That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

                                          By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

                                          More Resources About Achieving Business Success

                                          Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via


                                          [1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
                                          [2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

                                          Read Next