7 qualities of a leader i’ll follow

Like you, I’ve had the opportunity to be around some great leaders, and then again some not so great leaders. What I’ve found is the longer I go the less inclined I am to follow just anyone, even if the “leader-label” has been attached to them somewhere along the line. So what am I looking for in someone that I’m willing to follow? Check out the list below and you may discover that you just might be the kind of person that I’d follow!

1. Directional

They’ve got to have a clear picture about where they’re going if I’m going to go there with them. And that picture has to inspire me to jump in and chase after it with them. I’m interested in going somewhere, not wandering around in a desert for 40 years.

2. Deliberate

I want to follow someone who is intentional about how they’re getting where they’re going. There are times when inventions or innovations are stumbled upon. But I’m interested in following someone who thinks with the end in mind.

3. Decisive

Few people truly have the courage and the wisdom to make difficult decisions well. Leaders are paid to make decisions and the higher you go in leadership the more complicated and widespread the consequences of those decisions are.

4. Delegation

If you can’t delegate both responsibility and authority I’m not interested in following you. I don’t want to follow someone who doesn’t trust their team, can’t let go, and ultimately is a micro-manager.

5. Developer

If you don’t care enough about me to invest in me and develop me, I’m not going to give you my heart and follow you. You don’t need to hold my hand or be my best friend, but develop me professionally.

6. Determined

Any organization that is doing anything that matters is going to be criticized. World changing work is not for the faint of heart. If you’re not determined about where we’re going and you shrink back from criticism or difficulty I’m not following you.

7. Delivers

If you don’t have a proven track record of delivering on your promise, moving people and an organization from where they are to a desired future, I’m not going with you.


What are you looking for in the kind of leader you’re willing to follow?

Posted in Leadership

14 Responses to “7 qualities of a leader i’ll follow”

  1. Paul Steinbrueck April 18, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    Paul, I like your list. I would add humble. I want the people I follow to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I want them to admit their mistakes, and listen to the ideas and perspectives of others around them.

  2. paul alexander April 18, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    I’d agree! Who wants to follow someone who isn’t willing to listen? Great leaders have great teams because they know they don’t always have the answers or the best ideas.

  3. tymm April 18, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    Good list. Another one for me is I don’t wanna follow somebody who is caught up in “leadership” – but rather somebody just doing what they do with what God gave them and finds themselves leading. I guess that’s a lot of words to say “humility.”

  4. paul alexander April 18, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    You’re right! Unfortunately very few leaders have the personal security to just be who God has designed them to be. There’s all kinds of posturing and posing that goes on in leadership circles…usually born out of insecurity.

  5. paul alexander April 18, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    Russ, I’m glad you’ve got some differing ideas. This is a great place for honest dialogue & learning from one another. In one sense I agree with you, that ultimately the Point Leader of the organization is responsible for what happens in & as a result of that organization. However let me add, delegating responsibility (i.e. tasks, projects, etc.) creates followers, while delegating authority (power to make decisions) creates leaders.

  6. Brian Stankich April 19, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    Paul, you nailed this baby. I do rather agree more with Russ’s addition. I think the context matters though as to whether responsibility can be effectively delegated. If a low level leader delegates responsibility and it backfires, consequences are inconsequential. If an upper level leader delegates and it backfires, the consequences may be enormous.

  7. David April 19, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    All too often leaders, even good ones, take the credit for things the team does when all goes well. If it doesn’t go well the same leader will a lot of the time cast blame.

    It’s the exceptional leader who deligates both responsibility & authority…By the way, I’d say you can’t just have one and do the job! Not saying that doesn’t happen but, exceptional leaders don’t do that.

    The exceptional leader doesn’t cast blame when things go a stray but instructs, uses adverse circumstance for teaching experience, and helps in correction of the issue at hand.

    When Catastrophic issues hit, the Capt always goes down with the ship, no matter who had authority & responsibility. It’s part of the tarritory of Leading.

  8. Russ April 18, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Sorry but I disagree with your thoughts on delegation. You can’t delegate responsibility. When something needs to be done you can give others the authority to act in your name but you are still responsible for the outcome. Like giving a teenager a credit card and telling them not to spend more than $50.00 then refusing to pay the $200.00 that was spent when the bill comes. You gave authority to use the card but you are responsible for the results, good or bad. If you micro-manage the people under your authority that is problem with trust or insecurity on your part. I’ve seen this philosophy used by leaders to avoid consequences, not my fault I gave them complete autonomy, they failed not me.

  9. paul alexander April 19, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Loving the comments and conversation on this post. By the sounds of it, looks like I’m going to be doing a post about delegation in the near future.

  10. Los Angeles Movers April 24, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    With my passing years I am realizing more intensely that everybody is a potential leader. Everyone specializes in some area and he or she is better than others at something.

  11. Los Angeles Movers May 6, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Thanks dude smile your 7 qualities leadership feature inspired me lot to be a leader. Please share more info about leadership.

  12. Dave K May 31, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    Humility. Compassion. Integrity. Leads by example. Leads horizontally rather than vertically. No Politics. Servant Leadership. Walks the talk. Loves God and His people.

  13. Chad Moore December 11, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Is taller and better looking. Check!

    • Paul Alexander December 11, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

      Chad, that’s definitely the one that pushes it over the edge for me!

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