How well did you lead this year?

As you know, there is much more to leadership than a title on a business card. With the end of the year approaching, it’s a great time to take stock of our leadership performance this year and identify the strengths we can build on and the weaknesses to overcome.

The following are some of the characteristics of an effective leader, as identified by John MacArthur in his book, “Called to Lead”.   Based on this list, how well did you lead this year?

  • A leader is trustworthy: How am I demonstrating to those that I aspire to lead that I trust them?  Is my word golden in both the small and big stuff?
  • A leader takes initiative: Am I vision-focused enough that I can seize quickly the opportunities that come my way to “change the game”?
  • A leader is disciplined: Leaders who lack self control will invariably fail. Am I exercising the self discipline necessary to maximize my gifts?
  • A leader uses good judgment: How can I exercise my judgment in a more consistent, “values-driven” manner? Am I blinded too frequently by my own paradigms?
  • A leader speaks with authority: When I clear my throat to speak do people listen because I have wisdom to share….or just because they’re polite?
  • A leader strengthens others: Am I intentional in my desire to invest in others? Do I budget time to do it?
  • A leader is optimistic and enthusiastic: Am I recognized as a “fire igniter” or a “fire extinguisher”?
  • A leader never compromises the absolutes: Am I confident in my principles? Is their clarity between the negotiables and the non-negotiables?
  • A leader focuses on objectives not obstacles: In these confusing times am I building confidence, suppressing fears and challenging energies in pursuit of the prize?
  • A leader empowers by example: A leader “Knows the Way”, “Goes the Way” and importantly “Shows the Way.” Am I underestimating the time it takes to “Show”?
  • A leader has empathy for others: Do I spend time “walking in the shoes” of those I lead so that I feel what they feel? Easy to be captain of a ship you are not on.
  • A leader keeps a clear conscience: We demand integrity from our leaders. Character counts. Conscience is our built-in warning system. Can I hear the alarm? Gone off lately?
  • A leader is definite and decisive: How is my decision making process viewed? How can I be more clear-headed, proactive and conclusive?
  • A leader knows when to change his/her mind: When confronted with data do I have the confidence to change my mind? Admitting a wrong takes courage
  • A leader does not abuse her/his authority: Is it my desire to “serve” or are be “served?” Am I compassionate and empathetic in my treatment of people?
  • A leader knows his/her limitations: One of the most respected traits of successful leaders is humility. Am I impressing with character not credentials?
  • A leader is courageous: Being values driven will result in making tough decisions that inflame your critics. Do I have the courage to confront?
  • A leader knows how to delegate: Do I trust enough to delegate responsibilities? Do I give people the freedom to fail….and learn and grow?

As inspiring as these qualities are, I also find this list a bit daunting. What do you think about the above description? Are there other qualities you’d add to the list? What quality do you esteem the most? I’d value your thoughts and reactions.

About NAEM Staff

The National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM), is a non-profit professional association that empowers corporate leaders to advance environmental stewardship, create safe and healthy workplaces, and promote global sustainability. As the largest network for environmental, health and safety (EHS), and sustainability decision-makers, we provide peer-led educational conferences and an active network for sharing solutions to today’s corporate EHS and sustainability management challenges. Visit NAEM online at

View all post by NAEM Staff »

1 Comment
  1. Virginia

    December 22, 2010

    Alex–Great list of characteristics and questions to think through both as we reflect on this year and prepare for next. Thank you for regularly offering inspiring and thoughtful material about leadership excellence. I always look forward to your posts.

Leave your comment