The most important leadership quality of all

The most active Leadership Freak discussions occurred around an interview with John Spence and the subsequent review of his book “Awesomely Simple.” Our discussion regarding the top three leadership qualities every leader should have resulted in Doc analyzing the conversation and sending a graph of the top vote getters.

Surprisingly, we left out the most important leadership quality of all, Believing You Matter

Leaders believe they can make a difference. Some people feel pushed around by circumstances. They feel circumstances are changing them. On the other hand, leaders have the sense that they can change circumstances. It’s the difference between feeling acted upon versus acting upon. Scholars call it Locus of Control.

“It is not a question of ‘Will I make a difference?’ Rather, it’s ‘What difference will I make?”
(Kouzes/Posner, The Truth about Leadership)

The conundrum of leadership

Once you’ve decided you matter, the next things leaders do is make others feel they matter. This is what I call the conundrum of leadership. You matter so that you can make others matter.


Leadership begins with the conviction you can change something. In addition, all leadership development begins with helping others see they can make a difference.

The belief that you matter is the

most important leadership quality of all.


I can think of a specific time when I came to believe I could, that I must, change things. It began with changing me and moved to changing the organization I lead.

Can you recall a moment when you came to believe that you could change something? Was that the genesis of your leadership?

What do you think? Is the belief that you matter the most important leadership quality of all? Does all leadership begin there?


Community note: Thanks to Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss for stopping in yesterday to leave a brief comment. In the near future, I’ll be posting an interview with Dr. Sutton followed by a review of his new book.