How To Identify A Great Leader

Great leader

This is a post by Ali. Throughout his professional career Ali has been associated with globally recognized consulting firms, including PriceWaterHouse Coopers & Mercer consulting. Currently, he is working for Madinah Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Madinah, KSA. He has moderated more than 100 Live Webinars on MILE’s platform by successfully engaging speakers from Top Academic Schools in the world and Global Consulting firms. You can visit his website and connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.


Have you ever imagined why the world is suffering from acute leadership deficit? You will easily find the answer if you closely watch and listen to the people who hold leadership positions across the globe. Leaders have to put together many aspects of leadership to be affective but there is one specific area that is engagement in which they need to improve dramatically.

What they need to understand is that leadership is not all about a lecture, speech or monologue. A leader cannot survive in a vacuum. Leadership is not about the leader himself and it is not arrogant and exclusive as well. In the context of above discussion, following are 6 methods to identify a real leader.

1. They Lead People:

A true leader doesn’t focus on things but always leads people. He understands that even the best of leadership strategies will fail in the absence of great talent and vibrant culture. Productive leaders understand that platforms will never solve problems but people will. They realise that any leadership win is people’s win and any leadership problems is people’s problem.

2. They Don’t Work Alone:

A good leader can work wonders for his people alone but he can achieve much more if he creates a culture of leadership development in his organisation. In fact, a good leader never tries to suppress or overshadow others. On the other hand, he will try his level best to provide them with every opportunity to grow as a leader and elevate them in the organisation with the passage of time. He believes in the theory that every person is a leader even if he has to lead himself.

3. They Care about Others:

True leaders are not tone deaf but care about the emotions of those they lead and serve. One of their biggest characteristics is that they don’t hesitate to engage, listen, empathise and acknowledge others. They treat others not as a subordinate but as a colleague. Similarly, they do not direct others but seek to understand their problems. They don’t work in solitude but they remain relevant to the organisations and its employees simply because they care about them.

4. They are Willing to Compromise:

An adamant or arrogant attitude will never serve the leaders very well in the long run. Both experienced and aspiring leaders need to realise that they have to lend year to what others are saying, what is their point of view and how they can reach a common agreement that can benefit everyone in the organisation. A leader role is to get people together and continue his journey towards success instead of drawing lines between various people and not letting them cross that line.

5. They Live Outside their Comfort Zone:

You cannot expect to become a good leader while working within your comfort zone. A good leader not only works hard but he inspires others to do the same. He thinks creatively, out of the box and encourages others to challenge the common organisational norms, traditional practices and dominant logic. Most importantly, he will not prevent his followers to take risks and embrace change when it comes their way.

6. Aligning Expectations:

The ability to manage expectations is a good thing but you must learn how to align them for becoming a great leader. The best leader will always aim at inspiring a positive mindset. He encourages an ethos of collaboration in their organisation instead of creating internal competitions. They lead their followers with a purpose and passion because when there is no purpose, there is no leadership.

Question: Can you add to the list? What are some other ways you can identify a great leader?

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

  • They have a long-term vision is something I would add. For me being a christian having an eternal perspective is crucial. Someone that is not thinking long-term will not have the tenacity to lead consistently.

    • Great perspective Zech, vision is crucial. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • Good list. Those are marks of people with wisdom and humility; the traits that all the greatest leaders have. Pride and ego are the anthesis of a great leader, but the flesh is weak and our society proves it.

    • Great thoughts Floyd! Wisdom is a valuable trait we can have. Thank you for sharing.

  • I like your first point the best, Ali. Great leaders understand they’re not leading machines but real flesh and blood with emotions and frustrations and joys.

    • It’s important to remember we are human:) Thank you for sharing Loren.

  • Good points. I like what you say about not drawing lines. We can knowingly or unknowingly draw lines that inhibits ourselves and others from growing. While some boundaries are good (not eating two pieces of cake), certain ones certainly are not. It’s smart to know the difference between good boundaries and harmful ones.

    • Great points TC Avey, we have to have boundaries.

  • #7 Leaders are learners. We’ve all heard this, but it’s shocking how many “leaders” aren’t growing and finding new approaches or ideas.

    • YES, great addition Kent! We have to be intentional about always growing and learning.

      ps. sorry about the delayed reply (I’m on vacation so have not been able to use my computer as much).

  • Yes, I am always saying that we have to care about others and sacrifice for them. That’s what great leaders describe. Thank you for the post, Dan!

  • It’s a good list. One thing I would add is that a leader uses facts and knowledge grounded in experiential data to make decisions. Of course, there will always be those leaders who follow their gut and still somehow do well, I think that they are the exception rather than the rule.

    • Great additional thoughts Steve, thank you for sharing.

  • Great list. I think the one thing I’d add is that great leaders have a vision – whether it’s a set of values they live by, or a goal for how they perceive things can be – there is often a defining passion, theme, mission or principle that marks their life and their approach to whatever they’re leading – whether it’s a family, a business, a community or a church. I think without a vision or a set of values it’s very difficult for any leader to remain consistent and steadfast. And great leaders are often very consistent people, I think. Really great list.

    • Great addition Micah. Vision is essential. Thank you for adding your thoughts.