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Leadership Qualities & Examples of Good Leaders, Be They Famous, in the Community or in the Family

Updated on September 10, 2018
annart profile image

Ann enjoys writing about social issues, inspired by something topical or personal experience. She finds common sense lacking in politics.

'Project Good Words'

Project Good Words, instigated by hubber Jo Goldsmith, has encouraged writers to work on angles of one-word themes, provided weekly. It has given us a challenge to improve our writing and to spread a philosophy of optimism, bringing out the positive aspects of each word from our points of view. This week's word is 'Leadership'. See below for a link to Jo's hub.

Sir Winston Churchill


What Makes a Leader?

Take a moment to think about what you expect from a leader, what qualities you expect he or she to possess, to impart, to use in the act of leading.

A leader has the power to affect other people's lives, for better or worse. He or she therefore has a huge responsibility to use that position well.

Think of anyone, famous or not, from history or present day, whom you regard as a good leader. Why do you think they were good leaders?

Consider the Following

What about Hitler, Churchill, Mandela, Gandhi, Caesar, Genghis Khan...? I could go on.

Think of people in your neighbourhood or town who lead: the mayor, a councillor, your MP, the leader of your local women’s group, the organiser of a local charity, the mainstay in your immediate neighbourhood or street.

In what way do they make an impact on you and on others? Do you like them, admire them, respect them? Some more than others, maybe? Why is that? Do they have any qualities in common?

Quotes - 'Helping'

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” - Abraham Lincoln

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” - Maya Angelo

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” - Charles Dickens

Qualities of Leadership

Here are a few qualities suggested by Jo Goldsmith:

  • inspiring confidence,
  • being fair,
  • understanding people,
  • being humble,
  • having integrity,
  • having courage,
  • wanting to help,
  • having knowledge in a particular field,
  • having knowledge and experience in a range of life skills.

You will think of others but I’m going to use those as a good basis from which to start.

Can Anybody be a Leader?

How many Leaders do you See?
How many Leaders do you See? | Source

Who do you Know with those Qualities?

There are men and women in our communities who have them, who use them for good and each community benefits accordingly. However, having any one of those qualities, especially in the first 6 on the list, requires strength of character. Having them all requires super-strength.

Yet there are people who combine many of those talents, gifts, skills, whatever you want to call them. How do they do that? Is it a latent talent? Is it God-given? Do they work at it? Do they build upon experience simply through an understanding of the world around them?

A Special Person, A Good Example

A little of all of the above perhaps. What I believe is that it takes a special person to lead, to be respected and followed. Above all - and for me this is the crux of the matter - that person must lead by example and by good example, benefiting others along the way.

If not, those talents may become forces of evil. For some, the awareness of their own power as leaders can be a catalyst to make that power the be all and end all; it consumes them and they lead in order to satisfy their own ends. That, surely, cannot make a good leader.

Let’s look at some of the qualities mentioned.


I know how to do this!
I know how to do this! | Source

Inspiring Confidence, Being Fair

Can you put your finger on why someone inspires you with confidence? You trust them but you’re not sure exactly why. They have that certain air about them. They seem calm and in control of themselves, so are they therefore able to control any situation? You may have seen some proof of their success or you may not need to.

Being fair means weighing up a situation and acting without prejudice, giving quarter, listening to both sides, giving everyone a reasonable chance. If any blame is obvious, it takes courage to point that out but it can be done in an objective way.

Those who Inspired Me

My Parents inspired Confidence, Led me through Life, Helped me
My Parents inspired Confidence, Led me through Life, Helped me | Source
A Quiet, Just, & Gentle Uncle  who taught me to Learn, to do My Best, to have Confidence in myself
A Quiet, Just, & Gentle Uncle who taught me to Learn, to do My Best, to have Confidence in myself | Source

Showing Courage, Understanding People

Courage is needed for dangerous situations; keeping calm and appearing to be in control even if your heart is racing, weighing up the risks and acting accordingly. Sometimes there’s no time to think and courage is needed to do what you feel is right.

Realising that people react differently to situations for various reasons, realising they may be afraid, being able to recognise body language and changing emotions, all this requires experience but also it requires being able to change your approach when appropriate.

Humility & Integrity

Being humble and wanting to help others are qualities a leader must have. Playing the big ‘I am’ doesn’t wash when people are looking to you to solve a problem, relying on you to understand their needs, to calmly deal with a situation. Pomposity and bravado don’t work, they create negativity and resentment.

Integrity is being honest, being morally strong, sticking to basic principles. It’s no good pretending you can do something. Admitting that you have the same fears as others will make them feel better, as long as you can show that you have some answers, that you can give them a good chance of overcoming any problem, that you feel there is hope and a way through to success. Being positive and explaining your plan inspires some of that confidence that is so important.

Knowledge & Experience

If you have knowledge and experience to guide you, then you may be better equipped to guide others. That knowledge and experience are for nothing if you do not know how to adapt them to help others, to inspire a courage within those who are looking to you for the answers. You have to show them how certain actions, as a team, are going to solve the problem.

Leaders of the Past

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Genghis KhanAdolph HitlerNelson Mandela Attribution: South Africa The Good News / [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan | Source
Adolph Hitler
Adolph Hitler | Source
Nelson Mandela Attribution: South Africa The Good News / [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Nelson Mandela Attribution: South Africa The Good News / [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Leaders from History

Ok, so let’s look at a few figures who’ve been leaders and work out what makes a ‘good’ leader stand apart. It’s debatable whether leaders in the past have been good or not but I want to find the qualities which make that difference.

Hitler: He had a good command of words, he must have had some courage, he understood a person’s need to believe in something, to hope that someone could make a difference. His ‘charisma’ was evident. However, he ruled by fear, he became a fanatic, he was not well-organised and even the closest of his team conspired against him. He did not have respect, he wasn’t loved by the people, he was feared, he became desperate and withdrew when defeat loomed.

Mandela: Charisma oozed from this man. He spoke softly but with deliberation and wisdom. He earned respect. He went to prison for a long time because of his actions and his beliefs but he continued to work for his cause from his prison cell. He was revered throughout the world. His courage was evident and he led a nation to eventual peace, or at least comparative peace.

Gadaffi: Here is someone who appeared to be a strong, competent leader but who slid into the trap of loving the power, some say becoming insane. His later years as leader of Lybia were full of bloodshed and fear. His sons perpetuated this terror. They might well have had courage but they did not have respect, they did not inspire confidence, they were not humble and they understood little of what their people needed.

Churchill: He was perhaps a little pompous but he understood his people and he understood the need for action when others didn’t understand the danger. He had a way with words and could fire enthusiasm, patriotism and imagination. He was a leader who understood strategy and could command respect. He was generally liked and revered by the nation. Without him, would we have succeeded so well?

Some Thoughts & Examples

What, then, is this ‘presence’ or ‘charisma’ that some have, this ability to instill confidence, respect, even love?

It seems to me that it boils down to having the humility to admit that they don’t have all the answers, that they’re scared sometimes, that they might make mistakes, but having the courage to try to overcome, to have a plan, to put that plan to others in such a way that makes them believe they can make a difference, they can do it, they can succeed.

Being able to explain calmly and clearly what is needed and how to succeed is of utmost importance.

Which Way should we Go?

By Pee Tern (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Pee Tern (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

A Personal Experience

Some years ago, I went on a skiing holiday with some friends. The strong skier in the group had already descended the mountain (helpful, eh?!). It was getting dark and bad weather was coming in. I had done the route down once before; my two companions hadn’t.

I decided that it was up to me to try to get us down as quickly and as safely as possible. They believed I knew the way, I was 95% sure I did, so I set off and led the way. I was not an experienced, or even a good, skier, my heart was in my mouth and I was straining to recognise every bend in the slope. I wouldn’t entertain any thought that we wouldn’t get to our destination, that we would go the wrong way. We were going to get there and we were going to be safe; that’s all I thought about. My friends trusted me because they had no better idea than I did. They thought I knew the route better than was actually the case but I had to let them believe that; otherwise doubt, questions, apprehension, loss of time, maybe arguments, could have ensued and we didn’t have time for that.

We arrived steadily and safely, with no mishap. I was shaking with relief when we reached our goal. Was it foolhardy of me to keep going and to tell them just to follow me? Bear in mind that we did not then have mobile phones so we had to act on our own initiative. They were grateful that I led them down and to this day they have no idea that I wasn’t totally sure I could do that.

However, I gave them that belief. I kept them calm and we just kept descending slowly and carefully. Why did they trust me? Why did I feel that I had to do it? To me, there was no choice. I knew more than they did about that route so I was the one who had to decide where to go. That was the bottom line. There was no heroics, no triumph, just relief and a feeling of luck and probably some divine guidance along the way.

Young Leaders

I hear around me that 'our youngsters don’t know they’re born', 'they wouldn’t know how to survive', 'they have it too soft'. Maybe, but I like to be positive; I believe there are many who will make good leaders. I believe many of our teenagers have great integrity and great imagination.

Hope for the Future

A few weeks ago I learnt that my 13 year old granddaughter had been encouraged by her PE teacher to go on a leadership course. In one so young, I see qualities of leadership that I never possessed at that age, nor do I possess such qualities now.

Often quiet and thoughtful, yet full of laughter with a sense of humour both mature and skittish, she inspires respect.

Her patience and sense of fun act as a magnet to younger ones. In her peer group she has a few good friends and true. She finds the appropriate level of interaction with anyone from babies to oldies. Family and friends alike love her. Her smile is sunshine to the soul.

Yet she is bullied. With guidance she has learnt to ignore it, to deal with it, to rise above it, though it must still hurt her. She finds better things to do.

Youth club, playing guitar, drawing, a keen interest in and wonderful flair for photography, all give her a range of activities where her social skills, along with her appreciation of art and nature, have opportunities to develop, improve and enrich her character.

She is helpful, at home and elsewhere. She has a sensitivity and an understanding of others which belie her age. She listens to people. She gives the impression that she’s interested in them. She is gentle and fair with those younger than herself and they adore her; she has a ‘presence’ of some sort, this quality I can’t put my finger on.

The Young are our Future Leaders

A Future Leader?  I think so.
A Future Leader? I think so. | Source

Flowing from Within

I believe this 'presence' comes from within. That natural disposition of some, mixed with an appreciation of the world and its people around them, combine to allow that quality to flow like life-giving water in a stream. It’s fresh, clear, cool and has a goal. It reaches a destiny, often by back-waters and by many twists and turns, but it arrives. It arrives stronger and surer, deeper and clearer, bursting forth with a power which cleanses and gives life to those who travel with it.

Cool, clear Water, Rushing to its Destiny
Cool, clear Water, Rushing to its Destiny | Source


The link to ‘Leadership’ is Jo Goldsmith’s hub:

Hub by Beth Eaglescliffe:

What about You?

Have you ever been a leader? Are you a leader? What are your thoughts on leadership? I'd love to hear about it in the comments' section.

What do you Think?

Which quality of leadership is most important?

See results

© 2014 Ann Carr


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    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      mgt28: Thank you for your comment. I totally agree about the importance of leadership and we do see it on a daily basis in one form or another.

      Thanks, too, for following me. I'm off to look at your profile!


    • mgt28 profile image


      5 years ago

      Very moving treatise on leadership. Leadership and motivation are very important aspects for any time and occasion.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Mary, for such a lovely comment and for the votes.

      It's true that leaders often don't know the way but if you instil confidence the results can be surprising!

      I feel lucky and privileged that so many people support me.

      Great to see you here this evening! Thanks again.


    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      A true masterpiece on leadership. You covered so many angles including you lovely granddaughter. Leaders don't always know the way as you so perfectly showed on your skiing trip.

      A little bit of Faith in oneself certainly goes a long way in leadership.

      How lucky I am to know such great people!

      Voted all but funny.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, teaches. Great to see you and your kind comment is much appreciated. I value your input. Have a great week!


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      Your granddaughter is beautiful and will certainly lead well in the future (and now). This article would be a great share for every management class. The advice is what will help someone to become a great leader and to lead well.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      DDE: Thanks for reading and for your comment. Good to see you today.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting and insightful. You need to be confident in life and be open-minded. The one who teaches you starts from home.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      tobusiness: Thank you so much, Jo, for your lovely comment. Some of the 'good words' hit me immediately, some not so much, but they're all such an inspiration to get writing. Good to see you today.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Jo. I'm so glad you like it. Your inspiration is responsible though. I appreciate you sharing it too.

      I intend to work on more of your 'good words' as it's such a good idea and a great challenge.

      I hope you have a wonderful week.


    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      5 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Ann, this is outstanding! An excellent piece on 'leadership' and you've demonstrated the point so well with your personal experience. Beautifully done and very inspirational. I'd follow you anytime.:)

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      5 years ago

      wow! This is just so amazing to read! You have really sent good words to the next level. All wonderful examples. I shared, tweeted, and on face book this amazing reading! Thank you so much! A real blessing to read.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thanks, MsDora. Yes, we have to trust ourselves, have some confidence or at least appear to have! Otherwise others will be wary of following. Thanks for your visit and your kind comments. Great to see you here.


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      "I wouldn’t entertain any thought that we . . . would go the wrong way." I like that attitude in your personal experience of leadership. If you don't trust you, you shouldn't ask anybody else to trust you. Very good discussion and illustrations. Great lesson!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, John, for your lovely comments. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this.

      I still get goosebumps when I think about that ski journey - a little scary!

      Have a great week! Ann

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      You're right, Iris. We have to trust ourselves or we're really lost. I'm not sure you'd always be safe following me though!

      Thanks for your kind comments; good to see you.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      always exploring: Thank you for your kind comments and for tweeting this. I loved writing this and it made me think hard about the qualities and the priorities. Good to see you today.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Exactly Catherine; I had to do it! Thanks for coming by and commenting.


    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      5 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This is a wonderful hub about leadership Ann, and your situation on the ski slope was a perfect and inspirational example. Well written aand an enjoyable read.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 

      5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Ann, I really liked your personal example. If others are to trust us we must first trust ourselves. I'd follow you. :)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      5 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is without a doubt, one of the best hubs on ' Good words ' I love the way you brought your granddaughter into focus. She is lovely. You mentioned some great leaders, Hitler not being one of them, although he had followers. If one is going to be a good leader, he must choose wisely. Thank you for sharing. Tweeted...

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      5 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Very inspiring story out on the ski slope. Sometimes you become a leader just because someone has to do it.

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Mel. I totally agree with you. Leaders today seem to be inspired mainly by personal gain or they lose their way in the corridors of power. I was only saying the other day that our general election next May is going to be really difficult for me as I cannot see anyone who shows any qualities of leadership or strength of character. They are all too busy arguing amongst themselves and losing sight of what should be their true purpose.

      Thanks for your input, giving us another angle on this subject, Mel.

      Enjoy your evening!


    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      5 years ago from San Diego California

      I think a leader differs from a ruler because a leader is concerned with the benefit of the group whereby a ruler like Hitler, Stalin, or most of our modern day politicians are only after personal power regardless of whether the group suffers. There is a real dearth of true leadership these days. Great hub!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Colleen: I'm blown away by your response to this - 'captivating' is great praise, thank you. I like your point about 'imposing' the qualities that can exist when being used for evil.

      I hope you enjoy a wonderful week.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Faith, you are wonderful. Thank you so much for your lovely words. I didn't have a choice on that mountain so I was only a leader in the technical sense.

      Jo's project is indeed a great one, inspiring us all to think carefully and improve our writing.

      I appreciate your votes for me and I appreciate even more your presence on my site and your wonderful contributions to my hubs. I value your support.

      Have a great week, Faith.


    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 

      5 years ago from County Durham

      A great hub that gets to the nitty gritty. Great leaders can promote great qualities yet still be evil, or become evil when imposing their great qualities upon us. You picked the masters of the game, a captivating article.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Ann,

      This is a most excellent piece here on the "Good Word" of Leadership! You are a born leader no doubt. Thank you so much for sharing your experience up there on that mountain and keeping all calm and leading them safely down that mountain.

      This article should be read by all, especially those who hold public office as to what it really means to be a leader. You have provided great examples and insight as to those who are and were great leaders, and then the other side too ... the obviously not so great ones.

      Your granddaughter is beautiful and is already making a fine leader in her sphere of influence, and I am sure in the world when she becomes an adult. Of course, she has a fine example in you, as her grandmother!

      This is a beautiful project that dear Jo has started and I am thrilled that it has taken off with many participating in the spreading of "Good Words" ... how beautiful.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      Blessings, love and peace to you and yours always

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Manatita: Thank you for your kind comments. I am forever grateful to my parents for teaching me so much and leading me so well through the early years.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Thank you, Audrey, for reading this and for your lovely comment. Much appreciated.


    • manatita44 profile image


      5 years ago from london

      Nice and well rounded article. I like the idea that you remembered you parents, naturally. Some great selection of leaders and of qualities.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      5 years ago from California

      What a wonder and inspirational article! So well done!

    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      We winners should all stick together!!! :D Thanks, bill. I loved writing this though it took a while to choose the angle. The word 'Leadership' immediately reminded me of my granddaughter because of her teacher's remarks so it went from there.

      Thanks for knocking at my door this evening, bill.


    • annart profile imageAUTHOR

      Ann Carr 

      5 years ago from SW England

      Hello, Frank! Thank you so much. It would be wonderful if this provided inspiration. I'm glad you liked it. I just love the way all these 'words' are seen in so many different ways by fellow hubbers. I love reading them all.

      Thanks again, Frank :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bravo to your granddaughter...and bravo to you for a "brilliant" piece of writing, Ann. I loved your perspective on leadership. We share many of the same thoughts about this surprise there. I tend to hang out with winners. :)

      Enjoy the rest of your week. You earned it after this fine piece of writing.


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      5 years ago from Shelton

      Ann..what an insightful hub.. what a project.. this hub is an inspiration for those who can take on leader roles.. again great hub my friend :)


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