Four Attributes Of A Great Leader

March 25, 2014

John Quincy Adams was an American statesman who served as the sixth President of the United States from 1825 to 1829. He also served as a diplomat, a United States Senator and a member of the House of Representatives.

There are many great quotes from John Quincy Adams but my favourite is as follows,

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Many business leaders are so focused on ‘their goals’ that they forget the above and yet the most effective way as a leader to achieve what you want, is to inspire and develop your people. Rather than allow people time to dream poor leaders give specific direction. This stifles the creativity and imagination and ultimately leads to disengagement. Great leaders inspire and encourage their people to dream more.

The second point about “learn more” is an interesting one as many people are given training but don’t learn from it! This is because the training is something they are often told to attend rather than understanding the why? Formal learning is a tiny piece of how we learn and learning only EVER occurs if the person being trained ‘want’s to be trained’. Great leaders inspire people to learn more.

The dictatorial style of leader works only by numbers, targets and punishments to drive activity. This rarely achieves long-term success and will usually lead to resentment and high attrition. The best way to boost productivity is not to incentivise through pay but to increase employee engagement. Great leaders develop highly involved and engaged people that quite simply, do more!

In learning and development circles we use the term ‘to grow’ a great deal but when I talk to trainers about what they mean by the term I often get wildly different answers. The words “more rounded” are stated a lot as is “development” but words such as “maturity”, “develop”, “stature” and “confidence” also come up. In John Quincy Adams’ quote the final point is ‘be more’ and for me that is a simile for ‘to grow’. My own definition of these terms is to ‘constantly strive to be the very best that you can be, and to attain everything you are capable of attaining at work and in life’. Great leaders inspire all their people to do this, to ‘be more’.

I hope you found that as inspiring, I did writing it!

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training

(Image by Naypong at

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