What Makes a Great Leader

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” – Alexander the Great

What Makes a Great Leader?

Quality leadership is crucial to making any idea or concept a reality. If I were to start a tech company as an example, I would need my employees to follow my lead.

I could do this is a number of ways:

  • I could use money
  • I could use fear and intimidation
  • I could inspire them with my words, ideas, actions and vision
  • I could hire people that are obedient and selfless to my cause

I often look at businesses that fail or major cities that have persistent crime, corruption, and poverty problems as examples. My question is, what thoughts, beliefs, and actions created the problem, and my next question is, what new thoughts, beliefs and actions need to be created in order to get things on track.

Just to be clear here, anybody can be in leadership positions such as:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Bosses
  • Managers
  • Scouts
  • Military
  • Business
  • Government
  • Police
  • Coaches
  • Doctors/Health/Healing


Qualities/Characteristics for Great Leadership List

  • Endless supply of energy. You can’t climb the mountain of success if you keep running out of steam.
  • The ability to recognize talent. To be successful you have to surround yourself with extraordinary people.
  • Integrity/Congruency/Righteousness – Do the right thing, and become a leader for the greater good of all you affect.
  • Lowering of Ego/Self – If you are in a leadership position just for ego purposes, things will get difficult for you when major challenges come up.
  • The ability to focus your mind effectively and to have a high degree of emotional intelligence.
  • Organizational skills in all areas.
  • Understands the importance of continually educating one’s self.
  • Has flexibility with their beliefs.
  • Inspires Loyalty
  • Disciplined
  • Doesn’t like to waste time
  • Life Experience
  • Proactive

Managerial and Leadership

For the sake of this article I am using the ability to manage and the ability to lead interchangeably. I know being a manager and being a leader are not the same thing, but in order to be a good manager it is important to have leadership skills and to be a great leader you have to have managerial skills as well.

Energy, health and Vitality

These three key ingredients are crucial for effective leadership. It drives me crazy to see lazy people in leadership positions because they affect so many people below them on the hierarchical pyramid. Effective leaders understand the importance of eating whole, healthy foods and drinks as well as exercising the body regularly. Great leaders know that the vitality of the body is what separates them from average leaders.

King Henry VIII and even his daughter Queen Elizabeth I of the Tudor Dynasty were known for having high levels of energy and vitality.

Talent Recognition

A great leader spots talented individuals and uses them to their advantage by placing them in positions where their talents can be used effectively. Every great leader surrounds themselves with people who are enthusiastic and competent within their assigned roles.

A great leader also has the ability to see weak or under performing managers on their team and replaces them with more effective managers. A great leader can spot the proverbial “cancer in the locker room” and find a way to demote, transfer, or get rid of them outright.

Successful people like J.P. Morgan knew that it was crucial for his success to surround himself with the brightest minds he could find. Morgan knew that he didn’t have all the answers so he understood the importance of surrounding himself with people smarter than him would benefit his business success greatly.


To be a great leader, you have to mean what you say, and say what you mean. To be a great leader, your word has to be as good as gold. These days, average leaders say one thing and do the exact opposite. A great leader has integrity and does what they say they will do.

To be a great leader you must have a moral compass which gives you a strong sense of integrity. A great leader has an understanding of what is right and what is wrong and how they should behave in their leadership position. A great leader doesn’t have to be perfect or saintly, yet, they need to adhere to the rules in order for the rest of the team to follow suit.

A great leader doesn’t lie and manipulate their people to get what they want. A great leader understands the importance of truth and honesty. A great leader knows that once trust is broken through lying and deceitful manipulation, the people will lose respect for their leader.

A great leader does not use their power for their own personal agendas. A great leader knows their job is to improve the lives of their people.

Integrity means to do, say or be in accordance with the greater good. Are your actions helping the collective or are they only benefiting you and your agenda? A leader asks themselves this question-  “If everyone did what I am doing would it help humanity and the planet or would it have a negative impact”?

Lowering of Ego/Self

Notice I didn’t say become egoless or selfless. That would be foolish. What great leaders have is a vision that requires the ego/self to go along for the ride and along that ride there will be mistakes, bad decisions and often times failure, but great leaders don’t become stagnant because life gets too difficult.

A great leader accepts “The Human Factor” within themselves. The Human Factor means that you are not perfect, will never be perfect, yet you learn from your mistakes and continually work towards becoming a better version of yourself. A great leader accepts this about themselves and others.

Mind and Emotions

Being a leader will be taxing on the mind and body. Great leaders understand their mind and emotions and know when it’s time to take a break for self-care. Great leaders are Type A personalities more often than not and these types tend to be more prone to burn-out than average leaders. Type A’s learn through experience when to take a break and recharge their batteries.

A great leader doesn’t lead with their emotions, rather they use their emotions to their advantage when they need to. Emotions are a great tool to get people to take action, yet emotions without a strong groundedness in logic and reason make for a terrible leader.


Great leaders are organized in all areas of their lives. Great leaders understood early on that having all aspects of their responsibilities neat, orderly, and organized creates an environment where “flow” can occur much easier. Great leaders have an uncanny aptitude for logistics and planning.

Education and Self Improvement

Great leaders have open minds and are always educating and improving themselves on a consistent basis. A great leader reads a lot of books and researches topics online and off. A great leader always improves themselves in any way, shape or form.

Flexible Beliefs

A great leader recognizes limiting, self-defeating beliefs and replaces them with empowering beliefs. A great leader isn’t afraid to step outside of their beliefs from time to time to test the waters so to speak. This key component is what separates a mediocre leader from the great ones.

Inspires Loyalty

A great leader gracefully inspires loyalty by being authentic and by having general care and consideration for his people. In return, loyal people generally hold their leaders in high regard and will do almost anything to please them. A great leader can “read the pulse of the people” and make decisions that would benefit the greater good of their people.


A great leader is a disciplined leader. What separates the barbarians from great leaders is one word – Discipline. To be disciplined means to set up your own beliefs, values, and rules and then adhere to them consistently. A great leader DOES NOT say, “Do As I Say and Not as I Do,” A great leader says “Do AS I DO!”

Doesn’t Like to Waste Time

A great leader understands the value of their time. They understand that sitting around a table talking is not the same as taking action. Great leaders know the Pareto Principle; 20% of invested input creates 80% of the results or roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This is very common in the workplace where only 20% of employees carry out 80% of the workload. The other 80% of people are usually time wasters indulging in idle chit-chat and goofing around on Social Media.

Life Experience

Life gives you experiences just by being alive. The more life you live the more experiences you will have. Great leaders start off young in their positions and learn through experience what they need to change in order to become a great leader. Winston Churchill, who is considered to be a great leader, had an epic failure early in his political career during WWI when he decided to attack Turkey at Gallipoli. It failed so miserably that he was dismissed from his cabinet position, excluded from the war council and was banned from any doings with the war effort. We all know Winston eventually bounced back through humility and self-reflection to become a great leader.


Great leaders do not exist in a state of reactivity. Great leaders have a supernatural ability to see future challenges and deal with them before they happen. Great leaders, through life experience, know what to avoid and they know how to handle challenging situations with steadfast vigor.


The greatest political and military leader, (and a distant relative of mine,) of known human history is Charlemagne, ruler of Western Europe from 768-814AD. Charlemagne had great stature, standing at 6’3&1/2”; he was a man amongst boys. Charlemagne understood the importance of taking care of his vision for his empire and did everything in his power to unite, educate and improve the lives of everyone in his kingdom.

Charlemagne was such an effective leader that Pope Leo III came to him for help from his enemies in Rome. Charlemagne came from a strong bloodline of top leaders including Pepin the Short; his father and Charles “The Hammer” Martel; his grandfather.

A great leader studies mankind’s history and learns by what ideas and principle’s worked and what didn’t. A great leader is an avid reader of human history because they know that he who does not learn from his past is bound to repeat it.

When you have time, I suggest you read about The Carolingian’s and see how powerfully and effectively they led their empires including how they usurped power from the the Merovingians.

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