Qualities of Great Leaders

Are their common characteristics of great leaders?

Daniel Coleman, writing in the Harvard Business Review acknowledges qualities traditionally associated with leadership, such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision. He also notes that truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

In Forbes Magazine Tanya Prive identifies the top 10 qualities that make great leaders: honesty, ability to delegate, communication, sense of humor, confidence, commitment, positive attitude, creativity, intuition, and ability to inspire.

While I agree entirely with the characteristics identified by Coleman and Prive... and would urge every leader and emerging leader to cultivate them...these lists lack the spiritual and biblical components required for authentic great Christian leadership, whether they serve in church and traditional ministry settings of in the arena of business and public life.

So here are the 7 qualities of great Christian leaders that we presented to our masters and doctoral level leadership students at Beacon University...

Seven Qualities of Great Leaders

1. Biblically Grounded

There are two related Greeks terms that are translated by the one English term "word" in the New Testament.

The first is logos, which is used to denote God's word as theology. The nature of the logos word is sound, certain, and quietly assured. The second is rhema. This denotes God's word as revelation. The nature of the rhema word is purposed, empowered, and motivated.

Great leaders grounded in the logos and rhema of Scripture will be theologically sound and revelationally focused. They will reflect the qualities of both logos and rhema.

2. Intellectually Clear

Great leaders think deeply and profoundly about basic fundamentals. Proverbs 4:7-9 places the cultivation of wisdom and understanding as the essential priority for successful leadership.

"Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it; never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious. She’ll garland your life with grace, she’ll festoon your days with beauty." (The Message)

I like the NIV when it says: "Though it cost all you have, get understanding."

Develop wisdom; that is, the full understanding and proper use of knowledge... about issues... about possibilities... about yourself... about God's word.

Remember it is "the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" by which "the servant of God (leader) may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:15, 17).

3. Morally Centered

Great leaders ask two questions of every decision they make and action they take:

"Is it right?"

"Is it my best effort?"

Biblical moral and ethical standards should be applied consistently as guiding principles in all aspects of your leadership... unlike the individual in the Wall Street Journal cartoon.

4. People Focused

Servant-leadership is the order of the day. Jesus repeatedly urges his leaders to be servant-oriented, not lordly-minded.

Great leaders use things and love people... never the other way around.

A leader is the servant of people; rather he or she is a servant of God to people. The New Testament uses the word doulos, meaning slave or servant, to refer the leaders relationship to God. Paul thus identifies himself in Romans 1:1 "Paul, a servant (doulos) of Christ Jesus."

Doulos is not used to define the relationship between the leader and people. The word used in this context is diakonos, meaning minister. In the context of his ministry to people, Paul says: "I became a servant (diakonos) of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power" (Ephesians 3:7).

5. A Humble Learner

A leader must learn something new every day if he or she would remain a leader!

Expose yourself to those who can teach you. Great leaders are devourers of quality books, seminars, workshops and materials on leadership. There is a lot of light weight fluff and "junk food" in the leadership, self-help, and motivational categories.

The resources recommended and available to you through our aStore have substance and have a proven track record of effectiveness.

Remember... it takes just as much time, money and effort to read a bad book as a good book.

Carrots promote healthy growth... Twinkies do not!!

6. A Sense of Poise and Personhood

A great leader is is never cocky, loud, sensational, nor extreme.

He or she is possessed of a quiet assurance of his or her own worth and value to other people and to the issues of the day. This sense of poise comes from the leader’s relationship with Christ.

Paul exudes this leadership quality when he declares that he has "learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." What is that secret? "I can do all things (panta, meaning each, every part of a totality) through [lit. "in"] Christ who strengthens me." The verb Paul uses here is endynamounti... literally this means "in the one who strengthens me."

7. A Bold Trust in God

This trust grows out of an assured relationship with God.

This trust grows out of an assured calling from God.

This trust grows out of an assured anointing of God.


Leadership Resources

Leaders are made not born. You can learn the principles and cultivate the qualities of great leaders.

Here are some of the leadership resources that have personally helped me over the years to become a better and more effective leader in business, Christian ministry, and higher education.

The views expressed in any of these resources do not reflect the opinions of Free-Online-Bible-Study.Org and Teach the Nations, Inc.


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