Four Things People Look for in a Leader

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Today, the world is looking for leadership. It is desperately needed in government , businesses, schools and our communities. According to James Kouzes, leadership speaker and consultant, there are four qualities people look for in a leader. They are:
• Honesty
• Forward Looking
• Inspiring
• Competency

At the top of the list is honesty. It is difficult, if not impossible, to have and keep the confidence of the people in your organization if you don’t have this one. Honesty means you tell the truth and you don’t conveniently look the other way when things are not right in your organization. I remember early in my career where the owner of the company where I worked lacked this particular virtue. It didn’t take long for the staff to lose faith in his leadership skills and over time the company disintegrated.

Forward Looking
The next quality, of being forward looking, is critical if a company or organization is to have a future. It can’t be successful over the long haul if the leader drives the company through a “rear view mirror.” In other words, relying only on doing things that worked in the past, and not making accommodations for how things have changed, can lead to failure. The old saying “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” is part of that faulty paradigm.

The quality of being inspirational cannot be overlooked. People want to believe in a vision and an inspirational leader uses emotional power to illuminate the vision of where the company is going. He or she is able to inspire people to stretch their potential and reach for goals that might initially seem unrealistic, but with the right leader in place, are attainable.


The last quality of a leader, Kouzes has identified, is competency. If the president or owner does not have the skills and knowledge necessary to run the organization, then like a runaway bus, it will eventually run off the road or crash into another vehicle. This person must keep him or herself on a continual learning curve to effectively lead their organization.

In the years to come, the individuals who possess these qualities, and step forward, will be able to successfully lead our government, businesses, schools and communities.

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Tom Borg is president of Tom Borg Consulting, LLC. He is a business consultant, speaker, coach and author. He helps companies and organization become more profitable by increasing their value and lowering their costs through the professional development of their managers and employees.

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