How Would You Answer This Question

“What are the characteristics of a leader you would choose to follow?” is a question I like to ask Eagle Scout candidates during their Boards of Review. The answers are as diverse as the individuals providing the answer.

In the early days of Boy Scouting, Sir Robert Baden Powell wrote extensively on the qualities of leadership and I had the good fortune to read one of those articles this past weekend. He cited four valuable characteristics of great leadership. They appear below along with my interpretations of these points as they relate to Great Leaders. They are …

  • The leader must believe wholeheartedly in the rightness of the cause – Great Leaders have a vision of the future they want to create; the goal they want to attain. They believe that the goal is attainable and the importance of turning the vision into reality that they become passionate about it. They convey that passion to their followers and team members. They lead those individuals into an irrefutable belief as well.
  • The leader has a personality that is likeable – Great Leaders are likeable. They tend to be cheerful, optimistic, uplifting. People like being around them. They have empathy for those who experience difficulties and help others work through those difficulties by being supportive and encouraging. When people are not experiencing trouble, Great Leaders provide an optimistic vision of a future that people want to be a part of.
  • The leader knows his/her job and has confidence in his/her ability to do it – Great Leaders believe that they are the “right person” in the “right place” at the “right time”. They see the course of action that should be taken and they feel compelled to do so. They believe, not only in the rectitude of what they do but in the rightness of why they do it. They believe that they have the ability to make a difference for the better and that they cannot idly sit by and do nothing.
  • The leader practices what he/she preaches – Great Leaders do not say one thing and do another. They lead by example.

The writings of Sir Robert Baden Powell are as valuable today as they were nearly a century ago. Great Leaders are willing to learn from others.

Have you thought about the characteristics of the leader you would choose to follow? Click “Comment” and share those characteristics.

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at