Important Qualities That Define A Leader

The idea of a leader is definitively complex, and it has spawned many a book, seminar, and opinion on the subject. Some hold that people can be taught certain leadership characteristics, while others claim leadership is an innate quality. There is also the aspect of a person becoming a more defined leader by enduring a trial by fire, then learning to apply knowledge to complex environments. 

No two leaders are alike. In fact, there are several different types of leaders, and each possesses a unique blend of abilities, skills, and talents appropriate for their specific ministry or organization. Though every leader does not have the same mix of traits, here are some common among most true leaders.

You just know. In many instances, the most effective leaders are individuals that seem to naturally rise to the occasion or that others naturally look to for leadership. Although they have a title (and it may or may not be the leader title), it’s not what defines them as a leader. What defines them is their effectiveness. People follow them out of respect, not command authority. Any time a person has to remind others that they are the person in charge, it is a strong indicator that the team has problems. This type of leader can often obtain excellent performance from his or her team members without having to ask. They would not even consider being arrogant or iron-fisted to achieve the organization’s goals through their team.

Vision and execution. It is also common for an effective leader to have the ability bring a powerful combination of “big picture” vision that they clearly articulate and apply to day-to-day operations. Having a clear grasp of the overriding vision and being able to enhance that with a respect and appreciation for the details of successful execution is a unique and exceptional leadership quality. Many people will have strength in one of these areas, seldom both. A good leader is an individual who is able to combine the two with excellent communication skills to motivate and inspire their team members to rise to the occasion. 

Position and personality. The effective leader is also the individual who others like and respect as an individual without regard to their title. People sometimes respect an organizational person, but that respect is limited to the ministry or business environment. In other situations, a leader may be defined as an individual who is admired as a well organized person who can be depended on to get the job done. These types of leaders can go beyond a narrow specialization and successfully lead different ministries to both current and future success.

(What qualities define a leader? By Todd Pheifer)  

adapted by Gary D. Foster
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Gary D. Foster founded and leads Gary D. Foster Consulting, a marketing and management service specializing in helping religious product companies and ministries discover and optimize new revenue streams and to better leverage existing ones. He served as an executive with Focus on the Family, where he managed their award-winning book publishing operation and $110 million direct-mail fundraising division. He also spent 12 years with the Christian Booksellers Association, where he served as President and CEO of CBA Service Corporation. He also served in executive product development and marketing positions with Cook Communications Ministries, Moody Press and Moody Magazine. Learn more about Gary at