The Essential Traits That You Need To Be A Leader Worth Following

Author Steven Cribbs    Category Leadership     Tags

Sometimes it seems like leaders are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. Some leaders are great motivators and can inspire you to accomplish more than you ever thought possible. Other leaders seem to be in over their heads and struggle even in leading the way out of their cubicle.


Think, for just a moment, about the leaders you have had? Which leaders stand out as the most influential? What is it that you really remember about that person?  What made you want to follow in the footsteps of that person?

There are few people I remember as being leaders worth following. For those that I do remember, I don’t recall many specifics of what they said; but, I do remember their personality, how they treated people and how they lived their lives.

If you were to observe the most effective leaders, you would see three characteristics that are common, and essential, to every successful leader.

These are the essential APC’s of a leader worth following.


Your attitude is really how you look at life. It is the mind-set you have regarding life, your position in life and the circumstances of every day life.

I once heard it related to the concept of “attitude” in flying a plane. Basically, the attitude in flying indicates whether the airplane is “nose down or nose up”. Are you looking at life with your nose down – seeing everything negatively. Or, are you looking at things with your nose up – finding the positive side of things and not letting the little things get you down.

A nose-down attitude is self-defeating and is making the decision that you won’t succeed before you ever get started. A nose-up attitude is willing to take on the challenges that lie ahead. A nose-up attitude knows that the journey is just as important as the destination and that failure only comes when you stop trying.

Attitude is very contagious.


Being passionate is like being sold out for a cause, like chasing after something so hard that you are out of breath and gulping for air.

Passionate people are so “into” what they are doing that they let nothing get in their way. That passion produces incredible drive. That passion brings an excitement, energy, and purpose which creates an atmosphere where you just expect something incredible to happen.

Lack of passion causes dreams to fade away. Strong passion will draw people to join the journey with you.


What you are and what you do when you think no one is looking. How you handle success. How you handle failure. How you handle power. These are just a few examples where your character is encountered.

Ethics. Morality. Spirituality. Your character establishes what you will do in each of these realms.

Andy Stanley, in his book the Next Generation Leader, describes character as “the will to do what’s right even when it’s hard.”

Being of strong character is not always easy. But, it is essential in being a leader who will stand the test of time.

Attitude and passion are essential for being an effective leader. However, attitude and passion must be combined with outstanding character in order to be a leader worth following.

Attitude. Passion. Character. Three simple words. Three essential traits of a leader worth following.

6 Comments to “The Essential Traits That You Need To Be A Leader Worth Following”

  • Jason Fountain July 14, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Good thoughts, Steven! I like the quote: “A leader is someone that you will follow somewhere that you wouldn’t go on your own.”

    • Steven Cribbs July 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

      That is a great picture of an effective leader. I love to follow leaders that help me overcome fears and take on challenges that I didn’t before think possible.

  • Brandon July 14, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Ah…the long-awaited post! I remember when I launched the character series on my blog, you were developing a post on this!

    It was awesome! Plus, arranging it in the APC format, it is very easy to remember! Great post!

    • Steven Cribbs July 14, 2011 at 10:54 am

      Yes, yes, yes…the long-awaited post. I have had this one sitting in my greenhouse maturing just a bit. I made some tweaks a couple of days ago and, voila, it was finally ready.

  • Duane Scott July 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    This is a great post. And that’s not just me saying that.

    I genuinely appreciate the way you broke it down.

    I have always been a leader. And I hate it. But in school, I was the ring leader. In my youth, people strived to be me. Now I’m 21 and just married, and yes, it follows me.

    I sometimes try to stay quiet, to let things just slide, but then someone or some situation needs help, and I realize that I can do this, and shortly, I’m in front, coordinating and doing exactly what I tried not to.

    Got any advice for a person like that??

    • Steven Cribbs July 21, 2011 at 1:00 am

      Thanks for stopping by Duane!

      It sounds like you have an interesting dilema – having some natural leadership abilities and a dislike of the leader role. What is it that you have hated about being a leader? Is it being the one in front, setting the standard? Is it having people watch you and a fear of what people think? Is it more to do with the “always” nature you described and not having time off from it?

      I think the first question you have to answer is whether or not you want to be a leader.

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