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BuildingBlocks Leadership Scripture 464502576 500px part4

By Rod Denton, Equipping The Next Generation

Qualities of a Great Leader, Part 4: Seventeen Essential Qualities

This is the final post of my 4-part series about great leaders that took me 36 years to write. Here is a summary of what I've shared:

  1. Six Foundational Qualities
  2. Five Spiritual Qualities
  3. Two Relational Qualities
  4. Seventeen Essential Leadership Qualities

Having studied leaders, it is clear to me that when God wants to get something done, He finds a person, but not just any person. He looks for a person with certain qualities.


Great leaders who achieve great things are characterised by certain qualities.

In addition to the six foundational qualities shared in Part 1, five spiritual qualities in Part 2, and two relational qualities in Part 3, there are additional characteristics consistently found in great leaders. These are seventeen essential qualities:

Essential Leadership Qualities

14.  Influence (Motivator)

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him. — Luke 5:10-11.

They were on their way to Jerusalem with Jesus leading the way and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. — Mark 10:32.

All those who were in distress or in debt or disconnected, gathered around David and he became their leader. — 1 Samuel 22:2.

The test of leaders is to turn around and see if anyone is following them. 

15. Presence

The people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. — Mark 1:22.

The leader not only has influence, but also has impact, which comes from an authority that they possess. Consequently leadership is given to a person it is never taken by a person. It is not ultimately gained by years of experience or academic qualifications or even being placed in a position of leadership.

16. Vision and Faith

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations …” — Matthew 28:18-19.

  • A vision helps to define a leader.
  • God gives God-sized visions that will require steps of faith to achieve them.
  • We are not to determine what we can achieve with our resources, but rather what God can achieve with our resources.
  • “A vision = a complaint” — Paul Scanlon
  • “Show me your vision and I’ll prophecy your future.” — Paul Yonggi Cho
  • He/she who gets vision, gets job.

17. Achiever

So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost self-confidence, because they realised that this work had been done with the help of our God. — Nehemiah 6:15-16

“There are three stages in any great work of God:

  • Impossible
  • Difficult
  • Done”

— Hudson Taylor

Leaders are overcomers, resourceful, focused on solutions rather than problems and willing to pay the price to get things done.

18. Self-Motivated

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. — Mark 1:35.

Leaders are:

  • Low maintenance people (Paul Scanlon)
  • Intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically motivated

Self-motivated People are:

  • Emotionally inexpensive
  • A joy to be around
  • Team players                                                               

Unmotivated People:

  • Exhaust us
  • Deplete us
  • Take from us and don't give to us
  • Manipulate us
  • Create conflict.                       

19.  Intuition

Immediately Jesus knew in His spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts… — Luke 2:8.

The difference between leaders and followers is perspective. This might be called intuition, discernment, insight, the big picture or something else, and it results in the ability to see things that followers don’t see, to anticipate things that others don’t anticipate, to make decisions that followers don’t make and to grasp opportunities that followers don’t grasp.

“This is an ability to get a handle on intangible factors, understand them and work with them to understand leadership goals…. Intuitive leaders can sense what is happening among people and almost instantly know their hopes, fears and concerns…” — John Maxwell

20.  Courage

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. — Joshua 1:6, 7, 9.

Courage is the ability to bear pain and requires mental toughness.

Courageous leaders:

  • have a secure identity
  • fear God rather than people
  • live proactively rather than reactively
  • don’t compromise leadership in difficult times
  • are prepared to pay the price
  • do not get intimidated

21.  Executive Skills

Nehemiah chapters 2 and 3.

Leaders need to be mature not only in areas of character and competence, but also in executive skills.

These include:

  • Planning and organizing
  • Self-Management
  • Recruiting and team building
  • Evaluating
  • Communicating
  • Managing information systems
  • Strategising
  • Managing funds
  • Delegating
  • Monitoring progress
  • Timing
  • Decision making

22.  Attitude

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus… — Philippians 2:5.

If leaders lose their attitude, they lose their ministry.

Leaders can’t determine what things will come their way, but they can determine their attitude to what comes their way. 

23.  Excellence

But just as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. — 2 Corinthians 8:7.                                                                                                       … if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. — Philippians 4:9.

Acting slovenly is an insult to the Holy Spirit. — Oswald Chambers

Coffee stains on our trays means that our engines don’t work. — American Airlines

If God gave us His best in Jesus, shouldn’t we desire to give our best back to Him.

24.  Continual Learner

And Jesus GREW in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and men. Luke 2:52. Leaders are continual learners so that they can be continually growing. People who stop growing effectively stop leading and should remove themselves from leadership. However, beware, leaders can be OVERTRAINED and UNDERDEVELOPED.

An important element of continual learning is to keep finding good mentors who will empower you along your life’s journey.

25.  Communication

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they came out!” And the news about Him spread throughout the surrounding areas. Luke 4:36-37.

“Your voice is your identity in sound. The key to connecting is authenticity, being yourself. The greatest gift for those listening to you is to be able to listen to you. People follow people. When you speak, people are asking the question, “Do I want to follow this person?” We drive behaviour by speaking from the heart (by finding your life message). An average speaker with passion is more effective than a great speaker without passion. People catch what you’ve got, not what you say you’ve got.” — Notes from Paul Scanlon’s Communication Master Class.

26.  Integrity

Now the overseer must be above reproach… — 1 Timothy 3:2

And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. — Psalm 78:92

Character opens the door for our competence.

27. Gift of Leadership

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt, I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians … So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” — Exodus 3:7,8,10.

There are a high percentage of people in leadership positions that have little or no gifting in leadership. They may be good managers or administrators, but they lack the essentials of a leader.  So, are leaders made or born. From experience it seems that both options occur.

Perhaps the more important issue has to do with that of CALLING. For when God calls a person to a leadership role, it usually emerges that God anoints or gifts that person to lead people to a destiny.

28.  Developer Of Leaders

Jesus appointed 12—designating them apostles—that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. — Luke 3:13-15

A God sized vision will always be more than you can handle. So you must recruit leaders, train leaders, delegate ministry to leaders and build a leadership team.

Work in your strengths and delegate to your weaknesses. 

29.  Define Reality

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates have been burned with fire.” — Nehemiah 1:3.

Leaders who can DEFINE REALITY can explain where they have come from, where they are right now and where they are going. 

30.  Creative

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. — Genesis 1:1.

We have the most creative person in the world living within us. He does not give us a drawing on a paper to colour in; He gives us a blank sheet of paper on which to draw.

The Father is at work in your life/ministry/church doing something He has never done before.

Final Thoughts

“When people grow, everything attached to them grows. But when we try to grow the things attached to people, we finish up with small people trying to handle and grow big things. Then we get burnout and exhaustion and resentment and constant changes around the people, because we wear out the people we have who are trying to do things they are not capable of doing. Consequently, our bottom line is no bigger than the talent of the people who are producing the bottom line. Growing big people reminds us that our ceiling is not finances or resources, rather it is going to be people. Our greatest asset and our most challenging asset is people. Our greatest priority is to grow and empower people, people who are capable of growing breathtaking things.”
— Paul Scanlon, Growing Big People

I have now listed 30 leadership qualities that great leaders possess. What do you think about my list? How does your list compare with mine? 


  1. Are you listening to areas of tension in your life? We all naturally tend to avoid tension in our lives. But if we have a discerning perspective, tension in our lives informs us what areas need attention. Rather than running, we should embrace these tensions; rather than ignoring tensions, we need to listen to them. As the Holy Spirit to put His finger on some areas...
  2. Areas of strength: Which of these relational qualities that I've listed do you consistently exhibit?
  3. Areas of weakness: Which qualities are lacking in your life?
  4. Get specific: Of the various questions I've asked above, which ones highlight areas you will need to focus on to strengthen?
  5. Identify next steps: What specific steps can you take today to get on track for developing this quality?
  6. Who can help you? Who can you share your goals with so that you build in some accountability? Contact them today.
  7. Commit it to prayer: Pray that God would bring more depth to you as a leader; pray specifically for Him to help develop those weak areas He's identified.

In Part 4, we will list seventeen essential leadership qualities that great leaders also possess. 

This article was originally published here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/qualities-leadera-paper-took-36-years-write-denton-rod


rod dentonABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rod Denton has served as a pastor and as a teacher in the development of emerging leaders in Australia and 9 different countries across Asia with Asian Access. He now serves as a consultant for Rod Denton Equipping The Next Generation. Rod also serves part time as the Mission's Resource Consultant with the Salvation Army. More information: www.roddentoneng.com.au

See also, Asian Access Faculty

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