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6 Qualities Successful Leaders Cultivate

Have you ever wondered, “Why are some leaders wildly successful at building thriving companies while other leaders flounder?”.  What qualities do successful leaders cultivate that other leaders do not cultivate?

How about this question:

Why do some leaders inspire commitment and alignment while other leaders struggle to communicate and align others around his/her vision?”

For the past 25-years, I have sought answers to these questions.  During those years, I’ve worked with Emerging Leaders and Executive Leadership Teams to wrestle with critical issues.  Issues that cut to the heart of the organization, and problems that challenged the values each leader held.

It was through these experiences that I found keys to what differentiated good and bad leaders, and what keys led to creating successful vs. mediocre results.  In my leadership journey, it was these experiences, these people that helped shape me into becoming a better leader.

In the months ahead, I will share through this blog, some of these leadership keys so you can make choices to become a better leader yourself.

If you are interested in learning answers to these questions, please subscribe to get my latest resources and content delivered to your inbox.

My List of 6 Qualities Successful Leaders Cultivate

It isn’t very easy to categorize all the qualities successful leaders cultivate; however, for today, these qualities are my best attempt to describe what I have learned that wildly, successful leaders cultivate:

  1. Spiritually Enlightened
  2. Values Rooted
  3. Humility Minded
  4. Strategic Thinker
  5. Team Builder
  6. Customer Focused

1.  Spiritually Enlightened Leaders Maintain Perspective

Spiritually enlightened leaders maintain a different perspective than their counterparts.  Their higher purpose creates a magnetic force that inspires others to work for a greater cause.  Ending the boredom of a 9:00 – 5:00 job that pays the bills, into a job that is missional based and with an eternal mindset.

These types of leaders recognize that the makeup of humanity is more spiritual than human and that he/she has a spiritual nature that is separate and distinct from the body in which it dwells.

They understand that the makeup of humanity is complex, unique, and godly and that they require a multi-dimensional approach when leading.

I found that successful leaders who embraced their own spirituality were more compassionate towards everyone, less prideful, and more giving to those around them.

6 Qualities Leaders Cultivate - Spiritual

These leaders focused on three main areas of their lives in a blended, intentional manner:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Personal – Family
  3. Business

All three of these are developed to the point where I could not distinguish a difference in the way in which they passionately pursued each one (This is one reason why Truth At Work Louisville means so much to me).  It keeps me focused on all three of these essential areas of my life.

2.  Values Rooted for Strong Ethical and Moral Boundaries – Accountability

John C Maxwell has said, “By choosing to embrace and practice good values every day, you choose the higher course in life.  And your life goes in a direction that you will always feel good about.  You may not always get what you desire, but you will always be the person you desire to be.”

Values are your principles, ethics, and closely held beliefs, all defined into 3-5 core words/short sentences.  My business mentor and friend, Rob Gassman, states, “Values are timeless and steadfast.  Environments, circumstances, practices, and policies can change over time, but Values should not!”

“Values are the moral compass for decision-making.”  Rob Gassman

A leader’s values root him/her in an accountable lifestyle.  They recognize the importance of accountability in their lives as well as in the culture of their business.  These leaders avoid isolation (which is the breeding ground for failure due to lack of accountability), and they transparently embrace feedback from others, especially in the form of a peer group and personal board of advisors (like Truth At Work Louisville).

“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.”  Proverbs 15:22 NAS

The Courage to be Humility Minded

The wise man said in Proverbs 16:18 – 19, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.  Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”  KJV

There is something to be said about the leader who will walk in the room, ask questions, and listens intently to the responses given.  Humble leaders don’t project themselves as having all the answers.  They do not have a “better than everyone else” mentality.  Leaders who practice humility are proven to have greater self-confidence, less stress, more appreciation for others, and higher levels of success.

Winston Churchill is noted for saying, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

6 Qualities Leaders Cultivate - Listening

3.  Teaches, Encourages, and Models Strategic Thinking

The leader’s ability to foster an environment of strategic thinkers is critical to long-term success.  Many times this is where the rubber meets the road in separating the successful vs. mediocre leader.

Successful leaders intuitively shift conversations to a higher level of strategic thinking than their counterparts.  They have a trained ability to separate the issues at stake and align their teams in solving those problems.


4.  A Builder of Teams

Coach.  Mentor. Teacher.  Manager.  Director.  Whatever word you choose to describe the leader who hires, trains, aligns, encourages, inspires, and builds teams, that leader is critical to the success of the organization.

No matter how small a company size is, team building is an essential activity successful leaders perform.  Without it, a business cannot scale its reach and thoroughly impact the marketplace due to the limitations within the employee structure.

“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17 KJV

The successful leader understands and embraces the power of influence, and he/she knows their expectations, attitudes, and behaviors directly impact those around them.

All of us are sharpened and improved by the interactions and examples of our peers.


5.  Customer Focused for Clarity

Everyone knows that businesses exist to serve customers who buy their products and services.  Since this is such a widely accepted understanding, why do so few leaders maintain their focus on the needs of their customers?

Successful leaders never stop gathering feedback from their customers.  The feedback becomes the life-blood of the organization.  It moves the decision-making focus in the board room, and it guides the outcome of all strategic planning processes.

The clarity obtained by focusing on the customer cannot be understated, and although “obvious,” it is underrated by most leaders today.


Final Thoughts about the 6 Qualities Successful Leaders Cultivate

Leadership is a journey that first starts with the interior of oneself.  Only when you understand and work on yourself, can you then successfully lead others.  I have a passion for helping leaders understand their real purpose, and to become better leaders for those that they serve.

If you would like to talk to me about finding your leadership purpose or something else, please contact me using my email address:  paul@paulharstrom.com


Question:  Which one of these qualities resonates the most with you?  What quality would you add to this list?


About Paul Harstrom

Through a monthly coaching and group round table membership, called Truth At Work Louisville, I help Business Leaders, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, and Executives be the gifted leaders that God has created them to be. I understand discouragement, loneliness, and confusion that grips Christian Business Leaders in the Marketplace. You don’t have to live that way!  Learn more about Truth At Work in Louisville, KY



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