What Makes a Good Leader or Guide?

We all know the famous leaders in the world -

  • Nelson Mandela

  • Gandhi

  • Mother Theresa

  • Richard Branson

  • Adolf Hitler

  • Saddam Hussain

  • Alan Sugar

  • Richard Nixon

  • Stephen King

  • Donald Trump

  • Boris Johnson

  • Barack Obama

You may think there are some strange choices here, but they are all leaders in their own fields and there are many more you can probably think of.

A leader does not have to be someone who changes the world. They may be someone who changes just a small part of the world - a classroom, a business, a library, a town, a city, a few people's life.

But what makes a good leader?


General consensus is that a good leader possesses the following characteristics:

  • A genuine interest in people. Leadership is a person-to-person business that requires a positive attitude about people from the leader.
  • Imagination and enthusiasm. Imagination allows the leader to adapt to situations that are continuously changing. Enthusiasm is contagious and a leader’s enthusiasm can increase the participants’ own enthusiasm and involvement.
  • Sensitivity. Problems such as group disillusionment or pessimism, frustration, disagreement, or loss of interest will arise from time to time, and a good leader is quick to read cues or signals of problems before they develop and are more easily dealt with.
  • Integrity. Integrity is an ephemeral concept that is a combination of honesty, fair dealings, keeping one’s word and matching actions to words. Without integrity, the leader will lose the respect and probably the confidence of the group.
  • Respect. Self-respect projects self-confidence and inner strength and respect for others makes individuals feel more valued. Furthermore, the leader’s respectful attitude provides a model for group interaction that will facilitate group cohesiveness and processes.
  • Patience and persistence. Patience allows a leader to accommodate group members’ different work styles and personality and to inevitable delays and obstacles. Patience and persistence are complementary qualities that keep a leader from being easily discouraged or from losing interest. Patience, in this context, is not mere passive acceptance but a reflection of inner resolve, commitment, faith and self-discipline.
  • Honest self-assessment. Every leader will occasionally make mistakes, but a good leader will know his or her strengths and weaknesses and know the limitations of his/her abilities. Inaccurate assessment of one’s abilities will cause a leader to act in ways that eventually undermine the group’s confidence in the leader’s abilities and judgements.
  • Decision-making ability. While not all decisions will be good decisions, indecisiveness or unwillingness to assume responsibility for making decisions will cause a leader to lose valuable time and opportunities, and undermine the group’s confidence and trust. It may sometimes be better to make an acceptable decision and act upon it quickly than to delay in the hope of making the best decision. Indecisiveness on the leader’s part can be seen an needless procrastination, and group members are likely to become frustrated or impatient.
  • Administrative and organising abilities. Although planning, organising and administering may be assigned to other persons, they are an integral part of a leader’s responsibility, and may sometimes fall under the leader’s list of tasks. In either case, the leader is responsible for ensuring these tasks are carried out in a manner consistent with the group’s agreed goals and priorities.
If you are interested in becoming a good leader, we offer various options, such as -
A 100 hour distance learning course in Leadership. Study how to be an effective leader in your own home. 
Or learn about leadership in other areas, such as Play Leadership, Recreation Leadership or Youth Leadership.

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