3 Qualities I’ve Noticed in the Leaders I Admire Most

I’ve written before that I love to read leadership books. One of the first I remember reading is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. As long as I can remember I’ve tried to watch leaders closely and learn as much I can.

courtesy pexels.com

courtesy pexels.com

There are a lot of things that make a great leader. So, it’s probably not possible to come up with a complete least of qualities. But, here are three qualities I’ve noticed in the leaders I admire most…

1. They’re great listeners.

Great leaders don’t always have to have the right thing to say. In fact, the leaders I admire most are great listeners. They aren’t interested in asserting themselves and being heard. They’re often content making sure other people are heard.

Some of the leaders I admire most are able to make the people they’re with feel like they’re the most important people in the world. They don’t treat conversations like tasks. They discipline themselves to be fully present.

Last summer I had dinner with a guest speaker at our church. This person is a well known leader in a significant role. I was impressed by his genuine interest in me and my family. I was blown away when he texted me six months later to encourage me. 

He was clearly paying attention during our time together. He’s a great listener.

2. They’re generous.

Generosity applies to more than finances. The leaders I admire most are generous with all of their resources. They share their knowledge and their networks generously. They don’t hold what they have tightly. They’re open handed.

I was talking to a well known leader awhile back and he voiced this mentality perfectly. I thanked him for being so generous and he said, “What I have isn’t mine. I didn’t earn it. So, I can’t lose it by giving it away.”

It’s impossible to have this mentality if you’re trying to build your own kingdom. When that’s your goal you have to keep people at a distance. You don’t want to share. You want people to think you’re great. It’s difficult to give other people credit or praise.

The best leaders I know praise other people generously. They’re secure. They aren’t afraid to give credit to someone else.

3. They can work with a wide variety of people.

As I continue to think about the need for planting new campus ministries I’m convinced that collaboration will be necessary. Accomplishing the big stuff will take partnerships. The fewer people you can work with, the less you can accomplish.

This may seem insignificant at first but the leaders I respect most aren’t easily irritated. They have a knack for staying focused in the face of frustrations and irritations. They live with such a strong sense of mission that almost nothing derails them.

I remember being so frustrated once. I don’t remember all of the circumstances but I was convinced that whatever was happening was a big deal. So, I called a mentor. He said, “Stuff like this comes and goes. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

You can’t always let things go. But, the leaders I admire most have a knack for discerning what matters and what doesn’t. This removes unnecessary barriers in working relationships which helps them build partnerships which helps them accomplish more.


Humility is the thread that runs through each of these qualities. It takes me back to a passage I return to over and over again, Philippians 2:1-11. This captures the essence of that passage…

“…in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

The best leaders I know have the character of Christ. 

The best leaders I know are humble.

What qualities have you noticed in the leaders you admire most? I’d really love to know. Leave a comment below.

  6 comments for “3 Qualities I’ve Noticed in the Leaders I Admire Most

  1. May 31, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Thank you for your insights Neil. I respect all you are doing and who you are.

    • Neil
      May 31, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks, Shaun! It’s great to hear from you!

  2. Scott Lambert
    May 31, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Neil, this is a powerful and direct post on leadership. I couldn’t agree more my friend. I have been the beneficiary of the love and mentoring of great leaders and they have all three traits. The trait of openness and graciousness is what the Kingdom of God needs today in America. The world! Thank you NEIL for being the leader you are writing about. God is using you. sl

    • Neil
      May 31, 2016 at 9:26 pm

      Thank you, Scott! And, you know I love you. You’re one of my favorite leaders.

  3. Charlie Richards
    June 1, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Neil, you know how I feel about you. Your life defines leadership. I’m a better man,because of you and I’m greatful for your example to me. You’re a man of God and a mans man. God Bless you and your family.

    • Neil
      June 3, 2016 at 12:51 am

      Thanks, Charlie! It’s a real honor for you to say those things.

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