At a lunch with some friends our conversation turned to the ongoing saga of a leader in a neighbouring country and the mysterious appearance of vast sums of money in his personal bank account. Many reasons have been given to explain why this money was deposited in his account. To me each reason is even more bizarre than the earlier one. When I returned home after the lunch, I decided that I would write a piece about what I want in a leader, be it a leader of a country, a group, a community, a corporation or a voluntary association.

Personal Values

I would like leaders to have a set of personal values. This should include integrity, honesty, trust and respect for everyone. Leaders should be able to look their people in the eye and clearly explain issues or incidents. They should not take things which belong to others for their own use. They should not be corrupt and selfish. A leader must be ethical. He or she should know what is fair and just. Good leaders are also law abiding. They have strong character and are self-disciplined.

It is necessary also that the leader practices high personal integrity. If the group believes that the leader is false and lacking in integrity, the leader will have difficulty in succeeding. Integrity takes place when one keeps to moral and ethical principles. If you have integrity you will be strongly committed to doing what is right.


Leaders should work at establishing trust with the people. To do so, they encourage their people. They do not criticise, generate fear, scold or blame people. Instead they try to establish an open relationship with everyone. The leader’s performance and behaviour will generate trust, loyalty and vitality in the people.

Respect, Sensitivity and Compassion

A leader must show respect for everyone, their experience, their views and their thinking. Leaders should show the people they are with that they are genuinely interested in them. They should value the people in their charge and give them respect. I am reminded of what John W. Gardner said, “If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to be better than they are.”

Leaders should treat people with dignity and regard people as having worth. They must also be sensitive to the needs and feelings of the people and have compassion for them. They will listen to the people and observe reactions and responses.


I would like my leader to have lots of energy, to be bubbling with zest and moving around quickly. Such a leader would be able to complete more projects and undertake more work than others. When a leader exerts energy, the people will respond accordingly. Leaders should have passion, zest and energy and openly express this.


If a leader has confidence, he or she will not be afraid of taking on new tasks and facing new challenges. Such a leader would be able to inspire others to perform well. Confident leaders will maintain high standards and their people will endeavour to keep to these standards.


I would like my leader to be full of enthusiasm. He or she would then be able to influence me and get me interested in his or her plans, vision, ideas and suggestions. The leader’s enthusiasm is contagious and genuine. Enthusiastic leaders also expect the best from all situations, people and events and they very often get it. As someone once said, “Leadership is about gaining extra-ordinary results from ordinary people.”

Verbal Skills

I like my leader to have good verbal skills. Leaders should speak well and communicate their ideas, thoughts, suggestions and comments clearly to others. The leader should be able to relate well to others, to motivate them and to inspire them. If a leader speaks well he or she can bring about change in the people.


A leader should not give up easily. He or she must persevere with their plans, their goals, their recommendations and their projects. Even when they are faced with difficulties, they do not give up. Leaders must be able to take criticism, disappointment and objections to their ideas. They are generally calm in a crisis and when under pressure.

Take Responsibility

Leaders must also take responsibility for their actions and those of their groups. A poor leader is one who will blame others for the mistakes and failures that occur.

Be Positive

Leaders should maintain a positive attitude, as people will respond well to a positive rather than a negative leader. Leaders should have high expectations of themselves and of their people.


Ghandi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in other people.” Hence, I would like my leaders to practice what they preach. They should not be saying one thing and doing another.

Be Approachable

In their interactions with their people, leaders should be approachable. When leaders come across as warm and friendly, their people will be more willing to come to them when they have problems. A good leader must love people and look forward to working with them.


It is very important that leaders have a vision of where they wish to be. Then they will be able to invite others to work to achieve the vision. They motivate others by clearly showing that vision continually. Effective leaders will communicate the vision and goals until everyone understands them.


So there you have it…what I would like to see in a leader. Leadership is extraordinary. However, I believe that it is a skill which can be honed over time. We can all cultivate the various qualities and attributes of leadership.

I leave you with these quotations:

“The supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt


  1. Excellent write-up on leadership, Zaibun.
    Well done! I totally share the same sentiment.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on leadership 🙂

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