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Five Things Every Great Leader Has in Common

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Feb 29

Posted by Jim_Daly Feb 28, 2012




It's easy to find fault in others, to look out at the culture and identify individuals who, though in positions of great influence and responsibility, fail miserably as leaders. We see it in politicians who are more driven by popularity than by principle, who will seemingly do anything to remain in power. We see it in executives who preserve their own pensions at the expense of shareholders. We see it in the home, where mothers and fathers whittle away their precious few years of influence with their children.

But if identifying poor leadership comes with such ease, don't you think it'd be a good idea to know what great leadership looks like in the first place, lest we miss what might be right before our eyes?

I recently came across an article from Travis Robertson. He's a consultant who helps people tap into their passions and maximize their God-given talents. He spent some time recently reviewing the lives of prominent leaders and identified the five qualities that he found every great leader possessed. He has keen insight. Keep in mind, he's not suggesting these are the only qualities - just five that all highly effective leaders share.

I’d like to share an excerpt from an article he penned regarding his conclusions:

Quality #1 – Great Leaders Care Deeply About a Group of People

Behind every movement, every cause, and every vision is a group of people who need help. Great leaders don’t see a cause – they see a child dying of a preventable disease or an abused woman who needs compassion and help to break free from an abuser and begin a new life.

Quality #2 – Great Leaders Are Deeply Passionate About Justice

Great leaders possess a strong sense of right and wrong. They believe that injustice must never be tolerated. More often than not, it is this deep-seated sense of justice that spurs them to their initial actions.

Quality #3 – Great Leaders Confront Fear and Take Risks

It is impossible to be a great leader without fear and risk. If it were possible, anyone could do it. It’s easy to see great leaders as fearless men and women filled with a supernatural courage. But this is not at all accurate.

Quality #4 – Great Leaders Don’t Need A Title

Too often, we buy into the lie that to be a great leader requires a position of influence. We think being a great leader requires the title of CEO, vice president, pastor, team leader, etc. What we fail to remember is that people who hold those positions were great leaders before getting them.

Quality #5 – Great Leaders Recognize Their Dependence on Others

It’s easy to look at a great leader and perceive them as above the movement and people they led. However, great leaders don’t view themselves in the same light. Instead, they think of themselves as a component of the movement. Great leaders recognize that they are fully dependent on others to see out their vision.


It's always good to take a personal inventory of ourselves, to check our motives and our mission in life. Great leaders aren't born - they're nurtured and created over a long period of time. Are you aware of your own strengths and weaknesses regarding leadership? What are you working on?

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