2 Must-Have Qualities for Leaders

So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart. And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

-Psalms, referring to King David

What does it take to be a great leader?

It is a topic that we often over-complicate.

When considering leadership, it’s tempting to worry about things like:

  • Being charismatic
  • Being attractive
  • Being insanely intelligent

Those qualities are nice to have, but they are not essential for great leadership.

Really, there are just two parts to great leadership:

  1. Integrity of heart
  2. Skillfulness of hands

Get these two things right, and you’ll succeed as a leader.

But what exactly does it mean to lead with integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands?

Integrity of Heart

Integrity of heart is an emotional, spiritual, and practical consistency with your purpose as a leader.

For example, my stated purpose for this site (and my life’s work) is:

to help others launch lives that matter.

Integrity of heart is staying true to that purpose.

The decisions that I make should reflect that purpose. But even more, the motivations behind those decisions, the spirit of those decisions, should reflect that purpose.

In essence, integrity of heart is internalizing your purpose. That purpose becomes not just what you do, but a part of who you are. It’s what people commonly refer to as character.

It should be noted that if you don’t have a clearly defined (or even loosely defined) purpose for your life and work, it is difficult to have integrity of heart. There is no true north to keep you consistent.

Now, if you don’t have an intelligible purpose for life and work, don’t panic. Simply begin to define one (even if loosely at first).

Start by considering what matters most to you and where you can be of most service to others. Refine from there.

You’ll instinctively know when you are operating out of your purpose because the following signs will be present:

  • Energy, tons of it, to pursue this purpose in your life and in your study
  • Peace that you are working and thinking about the right topic
  • Confidence that you are spending your time well

Integrity of heart then does not just benefit those that you lead. In fact, it’s first and most importantly of value to you.

Skillfulness of hands

Skillfulness of hands is about execution. It’s about being great at your craft.

It’s not enough to simply care about your purpose and remain true to it. You also must become great at executing that purpose.

The best way to become great at a craft is through practice and study.

This means that leaders are lifetime learners.

While my purpose is rather general “helping others launch a life that matters”, the avenues through which I fulfill that purpose are more specific.

I fulfill that purpose through 1 on 1 coaching, speaking, and this site (writing, emailing, and even marketing).

All of these avenues have a commonality: they all involve communicating. My craft is communication.

I practice my craft regularly by communicating in each of those specific avenues regularly. As well, I spend a large chunk of my time studying and learning about those things.

It’s hard work. But, for me, it is incredibly fun. I have lots of energy for these pursuits because they are consistent with my purpose.

Question: How do you think about leadership? Which area, integrity of heart or skillfulness of hands, do you wrestle with most?

Photo courtesy of ImoAsta

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “2 Must-Have Qualities for Leaders

  1. Would love to read a whole post (or book!) on this one:
    “Now, if you don’t have an intelligible purpose for life and work, don’t panic. Simply begin to define one (even if loosely at first).”

  2. Oh, a couple more things:
    1. On my previous comment, there is plenty out there about purpose within a Christian context. “Purpose Driven Life” comes to mind. I’d specifically be interested in your thoughts on finding that purpose outside of a religious context or, more specifically, in the context of having already tried it with religion.

    1. Thanks for the other blog recommendations.
    • Wow! You are a mind reader. I really think some of our upcoming posts will be up your alley. Thx for speaking up. Though I come from a spiritual perspective, I do not believe that it is necessary to share this perspective to find purpose.