Dipo Adebayo
4 min readOct 4, 2022

5 Essential Qualities Every Leader Needs.

What are the essential things to consider when selecting a leader?

Leadership Guru, John Maxwell, in his book, "21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" lays out 21 essential attributes leaders should have. (Watch the book's summary at the end of this article)

But there are 5 things that I think are the most important attributes. Before selecting a leader, ask yourself, "Do I trust that this person has these 5 things?"

1- Character (Spirit): Does he/she have integrity and character?

2- Clarity (Eyes): Does he/she have a clear vision for the organization consistent with the organization's purpose and core values?

3- Care (Heart): Do they really care about those they will lead?

4- Courage (Liver)- Do they have the courage to do what's right for the organization and their people when it's difficult or at the cost of losing great money, reputation, or approval from those they look up to?

5- Competence (Hands) - Do they have sufficient knowledge and skill about what we do in this organization?

Unfortunately, too often we choose leaders based on only the last criteria: competence.

This is why many institutions suffer or perform below their potential, from families and communities to companies and countries.

We choose skilled leaders with no spirit and no heart. We select well intentioned leaders with no vision and no courage to execute their good intentions.

Don't get me wrong: Skill and knowledge are important, but character, clarity, courage and love for people are more important. Skill or knowledge can be easily learned, but it's harder to build these other attributes.

Your organization stands a better chance at success choosing a leader with moderate skill but strong character, clear vision, love for people, and courage than a highly skilled leader who lacks clear direction for the organization or who is a cheat, manipulator, people-pleaser, and a self-centered person who is more interested in power and building his/her own empire than in growing the people and the organization.

You may be saying: what if I don’t know a person well enough to know if they have the right heart, courage, vision and character?

In that case, here are 5 things you can do:

1. Study them: take time to study them. Don’t hurry to fill a vacant leadership position and then choose wrongly. The decision on who to lead is too important to make in a rush.

2. Ask others: learn about them from those who know them e.g family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

3. Check track record: Do they have past leadership success? What measurable contributions did they make to organizations they played a leadership role?

4. Hire professionals: Hire professionals skilled in assessing people’s personality, character, and abilities, to help you assess them.

5. Pray: Ask God for insight into their true nature and desires, and guidance on the leader to select.

We all get to choose our leaders, whether it’s in work, business, ministry, or government. And once we choose, we will have to live with the consequence (or benefit) of our decision for sometime.

So before you choose that leader be sure to consider: do I trust this person has the right heart, spirit, eyes, liver, and hands?

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Here's a short video that summarizes the book I referenced: The 21 Irrefutable laws of Leadership: https://youtu.be/NlAY6F3kpbQ

You can also get the book here:


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Hi. I'm Dipo. I write, speak and train on interpersonal/softskills, teenagers, emotional healing, and overcoming fear, failure, shame, rejection, and other self-limiting obstacles to your progress.

Generally, I share content on personal development. I love to see people grow and become better. You can get free access to my articles here: https://bit.ly/3MB3CUu

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Dipo Adebayo

I am a water engineer, softskills coach, writer & teen counselor. I write on hope and rising above shame, rejection, fear & failure. Follow on IG @dipoadebayo