For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a keen interest in the hows and whys of human behavior. How did Jimmy ace that math test when he didn’t study? Why didn’t Jenny try out for that role she was so excited about? These were the thoughts that would run through my head in elementary and high school. I knew, even back then, that humans were very complex.

I accepted the idea that to truly understand a person and their actions, many layers would need to be peeled back.

At the time, in my younger days, this habit of deconstructing the motivations of others to better understand them felt more like a curse than anything else. My brain felt like it was constantly in overdrive – and it wore me down. I certainly didn’t see any benefit then, nor could I imagine any in the future.

It wasn’t until my late twenties, that I found myself quite surprised to realize that the observations I had made throughout this decade, both in and out of the workplace, played a major role in shaping my thoughts and understanding of leadership.

What Makes A Truly Great Leader5 Thoughts on What Makes a Great Leader

Yes, there are many opinions out there on what makes a good leader, but as a Millennial – someone who inherently (simply because of my birth date) seeks a leader who will inspire – I look for certain qualities in leader, qualities I also hope to foster in myself.

Today I’m sharing 5 thoughts on what makes a Great Leader, to and for Millennials, and throughout all generations.

1. Listeners make the best leaders.

Time and time again, I’ve read about, and witnessed the importance of listening to others. It’s the only way to truly learn about a situation/person. It’s the only way to effectively solve a problem. Listening shows you care. It shows you want to help. It shows you want progress.

2. Sometimes leading is letting go.

Letting go of people, ideas, beliefs. We limit ourselves when we hold on to the old – and if we really want to bridge the generational gaps, letting go is a crucial step. (That is relevant to ALL generations.)

3. Compassionate leadership is not a sign of weakness.

There is not a single doubt in my mind that compassionate leadership is a key catalyst to a happier, more productive workforce. Once upon a time, the Iron Fist ruled – that mentality just won’t work anymore.

4. Psychology and leadership go hand in hand.

If you want to truly be a Great Leader, try to understand those you are working to inspire. There are so many things that we can learn about people by learning and understanding the basics of social psychology, personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs, and others. It goes back to being a good listener – and psychology plays a huge role in that.

5. Failure is part of Great Leadership.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure, without losing enthusiasm.” The ability to see the world as a place to inspire and be inspired, regardless of what comes our way, makes a truly Great Leader.


What are your thoughts on what makes a truly great leader?

Does it vary from generation to generation or are we all seeking the same thing?