The Top 4 Attributes Every Leader Should Embody

The-Top-4-Attributes-Every-Leader-Should-Embody-Paul-JolicoeurSometimes leaders get to stand in the lime light, marching forward in a triumphant pursuit of excellence and performance. Sometimes leadership requires standing in the shadows to support those closest to you.

Leadership is about influence and accomplishing tasks while utilizing the gifts of those you lead. This should look in part, as if the leader is serving those around them.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned on leadership and one of the greatest areas of accountability for myself is this:

Leaders set the example of ideal.”- Paul Jolicoeur Tweet this!

When people look at you, they are seeing the template of what is expected of them. Be the template you want to see reproduced.

When I am looking to recruit new leaders into the areas I manage I ask myself a simple question.  Would I want the people this person leads to be just like them?

If the answer is yes, then we move on. If the answer is no, we have a red flag.

This is not about perfection. No one is perfect and we can’t wait around to do anything until someone is.

With that in mind, here are 4 areas in which every leader should set the example in to their team.

1. Attitude

If you want positive team members that are looking for innovative ways to solve problems and enjoy what they do and who they do it with, start with you.

Your attitude is contagious, what do you want your team to catch?

You want them to stay positive and encouraging, not negative and destructive. Display the attitude you expect from them.

2. Personal Discipline

Stagnant water begins to stink. It gradually becomes unusable. A team member that stops growing will become marginalized, demoralized and eventually unusable.

Look for ways to help your team members grow.

Be a lifelong learner yourself, read books, listen to podcasts, take classes and attend conferences. Start by setting some goals for your year.  We are all motivated by the growth we see in others.

Be a motivating force for your team.

When they see you making the effort to learn and become a better you, they will be challenged to do the same.

3. Time Management

You should be showing up on time and utilizing your time well. When you spend too much time at work doing things that are not work related, your team will follow suit. You will have given them permission to waste time.

If they see you working hard, staying focused and managing your time well, you will motivate them to do the same.

4. Work Ethic

You expect those that report to you to get their work done. You want them to put their best effort into everything they do.

We expect others to give their best effort, that is why you recruited them and want to work with them.

It will be very difficult for them to perform like this if they don’t see you doing the same. If you aren’t working hard you will debilitate your team and bring their work ethic down.

We can only expect from others, what we ourselves are willing to model.

Whatever standard you set will become their highest standard. Leadership is a gift and we must steward it well.

In what other areas do you believe a leader should be the example of ideal? 

About Paul Jolicoeur

"I am a husband to my beautiful wife, father to my equally beautiful daughter, a disciple and a blogger. At work I'm the Director of Engagement.

I desire to be a part of your journey in developing as a leader and reaching your potential.

I believe it is important to continually be learning and growing. My desire is to be a lifelong learner; growing each day. I am passionate about leadership development and seeing people reach their full potential. Live life and make it count!"

Connect with Paul Jolicoeur


  1. Hi Paul,

    I think that this point in your post, “This should look in part, as if the leader is serving those around them” captures the spirit of leadership. All 4 points are great, but only if applied in this context.

    Leadership is about creating the environment in which your team can flourish whilst showing them how.

    Thanks, I enjoyed the post.

  2. Todd, I appreciate the reminder on this point: “We can only expect from others, what we ourselves are willing to model.” It is a fundamental principle of leadership that I need to hear several times.

    Here is one way I have applied this idea:
    When I get excited about a new idea or method, I do it myself for a few days before I attempt to convince anyone of the idea.

  3. Thanks Paul and I will add one more comment to the great ones already shared; leaders are genius makers and genius’s!!

  4. Dr. Matthew Doyle says:

    Excellent blog, Paul. And.. equally excellent follow-up comments! As I read your blog and then the comments, I was reminded of a quote from Thomas Crum:

    “Being willing to change allows you to move from a point of view to a viewing point — a higher, more expansive place, from which you can see both sides.”

  5. Great simple four ways that leaders model the ideal. I particularly give three stars to “Your attitude is contagious, what do you want your team to catch?” this is such a critical factor. Also I would add that leaders should give a hand up not a hand out!

    • Thanks Heidi, our attitudes set the tone for our teams. This burden to set the example is only to so that we are good stewards with the influence we have.

  6. I believe that effective leaders develop and demonstrate the 4Cs:
    Courage, and

  7. Great post Paul! I think it would serve as an excellent litmus test for all current or aspiring leaders, with or without David’s suggestion. In my view, living the values you believe has to be the way forward in developing, sustaining and growing great teams and organisations.

    • Thanks John, the list isn’t all inclusive, just a starting point. It would be easy to make a long list, I think its best to boil it down to a few non-negotiables and keep is as simple as possible.

  8. I think all leaders need to take a bird’s eye view of themselves from time to time. Am I the kind of leader that would inspire me to do great things? Am I the kind of leader I would want to emulate in my actions? Attitude is huge, as, like you said, it’s contagious. If you want people to follow your lead then you better set the bar where you want it to be.

  9. certainly ideal attributes for any leader!

  10. Paul, thank you so much for your great post. I guess the four attributes you outline here sum up ‘integrity’; to be beyond reproach! Sometimes I slip off the wagon and expect others to observe higher standards that are in contradiction to my own action. Thank you for reminding us to ‘keep it real’.

    • Integrity sums it alright perfectly! You nailed it. I believe that the foundation of any leader must be integrity. With out integrity anything we build is built of shaky ground.

  11. Hi Paul. I believe you have captured the essence of leading – regardless of place or position. I agree with you that leaders should model the behaviors they wish to see in others. Thank you for reminding us.

    • Thanks Susan, I believe we can set the example regardless of our title. In fact when people follow us regardless of our title we are truly leading.

  12. Good talent is priceless. I love the question you pose: Would I want the people this person leads to be just like them? A very good way to build a dream team that will set the example of ideal. I too am a life long learner, and companies are seeing the benefits as well. According to Forbes, Learning and Development spending are up 12% thus far in 2013. I am currently involved with an organization who has cited, not that we are gorwing, but we are “becoming”. An educated work force is a strong focus as a part of the strategic plan. Thank you for your words.

    Great read!

    • Great to hear Susan, when companies can promote and assist learning in the work place the return is exponential. It also tells the team members that their employers see future grow that includes them. Not bad for moral!

  13. Nice reminder Paul. Leaders set an example even when they are not trying to set an example. They should at least make it intentional!

    And my additional example would be “give a lot” – givers always gain, but more importantly they help to breed other givers!

    Thanks for your contribution.


    • Thanks for the comment David, I agree leaders must set an example in generosity. I find I am more productive when I am willing to freely give. I am able to accomplish more of what I wanted to, when I am giving to others.



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