Healthy Leaders


Characteristics of a Leader

John RamsteadJohn Ramstead

How to Go Farther, Faster!

The more you know about leadership, the more you practice it. The more you integrate it into your life, the faster and the farther you go.

Learning leadership from others and applying what you learn allows you to go farther faster. It’s a very simple truth. This begs the question: What is leadership?

I was recently speaking to a large group and we had people write down what their definition of leadership is; the answers were wide and varied.  We also asked, “What are the characteristics of a great leader?” And the brainstorming went on and on.

Definition of Leadership

Here’s my simple definition of leadership. It comes from John Maxwell and I think this is one of the best definitions out there.

Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another. (John C. Maxwell)

Think about that ‒ anybody who has influence over one other life, and I would add to that, influencing life in a positive direction that’s in alignment with what God has put in your heart. If you’re in a leadership position, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a CEO of a company or you’re 23 years old and you’re just getting started, if you have influence over one life, you are in leadership.

Authentic Leadership

There has been a lot written and spoken about authentic leadership and it would be good to define what authenticity is. It is knowing who you are! Knowing your strengths, your weaknesses, your values, and your passions. When you are in alignment with who you are at the core, then what you say, what you think, the actions that you take and how you make decisions will be in alignment. That is authentic leadership.

When you marry authenticity with leadership, now you’re in a very powerful place.

As I look on my life, all the way through growing up, I have been fortunate to have great examples of authentic leadership modeled to me. My dad, who is an attorney, is a great leader. He is a quiet man of strength who let me make my own decisions and learn from my decisions and was there to just help me do better next time.

He really modeled for me great leadership lessons that I brought into my life. In the military there were so many opportunities for me to lead. I saw many great leaders and poor leaders. But it was a leadership lab for me to understand what it really meant to not only influence those around you, but influence those around you towards something bigger than yourself.

Getting out of the military into business, I sought out coaches and mentors to help me take what I had learned into the business world. And I believe that is why I’ve been able to accomplish what I have accomplished in my life.

Characteristics of a Leader 

Recently I have been reading Andy Stanley’s book Next Generation Leader.  Andy starts out his book and asks three questions.

  1. Looking back, what are some of the core principles I wish someone had shared with me when I was younger?
  2. How can I bring that out more in my life today?
  3. What do I know today that I wish I had known then?

So what are some of the core concepts of leadership that we need to be working on ourselves as well as sharing with that next generation of leaders that are coming up behind us?

Core Concepts of Leadership


As leaders, we have to channel our energies to those arenas of leadership where we are most likely to excel. Working in the areas of our strengths is crucial to being effective.


When we’re in a leadership role, we have to acknowledge that we are not always the smartest person in the room. We might not always be the first one to see an opportunity.

It takes courage to pull together the talents on your team. It takes vision to say we are here at point A, we want to get to point B. What is the plan to pull all this great talent together to create motion and momentum toward that?

It takes courage to do this well and consistently.


The hallmark in my opinion of a great leader is somebody who can lead with clarity in times of uncertainty. Those times of uncertainty, those are the times that can paralyze us.

They force us to question ourselves. People are looking to us for guidance. And if we are not able to lead with vision and get a group moving forward during those times, we’re just going to stand still or hit a plateau and start going backwards.


You may think you are really good at what you do. If you look around you, you look at your peers. You may even feel like you’re better than everyone else around you in certain skill sets.

Without a coach, you’ll never be as good as you could be. If your goal is to move farther faster, then working with a coach will accelerate your leadership growth meaningfully.


You can lead without character and we all know some of those leaders, but you won’t be a leader worth following. Character provides us with the moral authority that we need to bring together people and resources to move an enterprise, a mission, a vision, a project forward.

You are a Leader

If God has gifted you to lead, then you will find yourself in a leadership role. There’s no way to stop you. So more than likely in your life, people have recognized your gift. They’re following you.

Your passions are equipping you and equipping other people in your life. So I want you to be able to look back and have a no-regrets experience on everything in your life for yourself and those who choose to follow you.

Let me close with another quote from John Maxwell. This really sums it up.

We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are. (John C. Maxwell)

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