The Characteristics of Excellent Leadership Using Various American Presidents as Examples

Jon Wefald

  1. Vision is the creation of a focus. It is to develop an agenda, goals, and expectations. Some people might call vision having the ability to think out of the box.
  2. Communicate the vision and develop the ability to explain abstract topics with specifics; good leaders articulate the hopes, dreams, feelings, and values of people that they feel but cannot necessarily articulate themselves.
  3. Hire excellent people; hire people who are smarter than you are and delegate to them the authority and responsibility to act. This is called the art of empowerment.
  4. The ability to make decisions and the courage to take risks.
  5. The ability to admit mistakes and to say, quite simply, I am sorry.
  6. To be trustworthy, to be reliable, to care about others, and to feel good about yourself.
  7. To have determination, to have willpower, and to have a never-give up attitude.
  8. A sense of humor. All good leaders have to have a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at themselves.

From the keynote speech at the Department Heads' Retreat, August 18, 2000.