What Defines a Good Leader?

good leader

I’m betting the title of this post caught your attention. And, I’m also guessing that you think you have a pretty good idea what the answer is!

Before I jump into the job advice Campus to Career is known to provide, I’d like to set the scene for you.

It starts in church.

You see, I haven’t always been a guy who goes to church regularly. In fact, in the nearly twelve years my family has lived in our city, we’ve rarely attended a service. For me, “my church” was the one in which I grew up…200 miles away. We continue to visit home but not as often as we’d like to these days. A few months ago, some things abruptly changed in our lives, offering a new perspective. It was a nudge. Like most stories, these events allowed us to see clearly and drew us closer to our faith which in turn, pointed us to a new church. And maybe it’s the point at which we’re in our lives, but the messages have hit really close to home every week.

As I sat listening to the sermon recently, I couldn’t help but take notes. The message was on authority (Ephesians 5:21-6:9) and dug deep into what a leader is (and isn’t.) As the pastor delivered the message, I feverishly jotted down bullet points and questions on the bulletin. Not necessarily so I could write a blog post on the subject but because I wanted to remember the words that were spoken. I’ve found that writing things down is helpful in that regard.

Is a good leader someone who knows all? A person we should trust with everything?

Here’s what I gleaned from the message:

We are all leaders, all responsible for the success and overall outcome.

  • We’re all in this together. How can we work as a team to achieve the common goal?
  • You are in charge of your career! What steps are you taking to maximize your job search and professional development?

BONUS ARTICLE: Every Job Seeker Needs to be Their Own Hype Man by Mark Anthony Dyson

Leaders empower others, activating the strengths of the group and individual. (Sounds a lot like servant leadership, doesn’t it?)

  • As a manager or team leader, how can you activate the powers of those around?
  • What can you do to support others so that they can succeed, and in the process, the team succeeds?

Leaders aren’t jerks.

  • Are you acting in a way that makes it as easy for others to follow?

Leaders know when to lead, when to follow, and when to collaborate.

  • Versatility and humility required. Do you have the emotional intelligence to know when to make the shift?

BONUS ARTICLE: 10 Tips to Help You Lead Your Team Meetings via The Balance

Leaders are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

  • Roy T. Bennett is credited with saying, “the greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
  • Are you listening? I mean, REALLY listening to understand? It takes practice, but I can tell you that it’s worth it. Every time.

BONUS ARTICLE: The Art of Listening

Last point: Leaders should watch over their flock in a caring nature, not ruling as a tyrant. Remember when you were a kid and your parent put you in charge of your siblings or cousins? It wasn’t permission to rule over others but rather, the opportunity to care for them as you’d like to be cared. The Golden Rule still applies!

Now, I know I most definitely didn’t get all characteristics of good leaders. That’s where YOU come in. Have something to add? Please leave a comment. Want to debate the points I’ve made? You’re quite welcome to do so. That’s the beauty of social media – it’s social.

As always, thanks for reading.


PS. If you’re interested, you can watch the full sermon below. I encourage you to do so!

Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash


2 thoughts on “What Defines a Good Leader?

  1. I am not sure how to respond other than WOW. Well thought out and easy to follow. Tips and tricks is a big plus!


  2. Hi Kirk,

    Thanks for sharing your insights! Definitely agree that listening is the #1 skill that every leader should master. Communication seems unimportant, but it’s actually a key factor that decides the successful leader.


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