Leadership Series (7) : Key Features That Make Great Leaders. By Victor A. Imhangbe.

Do you have the dream of becoming a leader? Do you really want to know what leadership is all about? Do you know the reasons why the late Nelson Mandela was urge to continue to rule at a time he told his people it was enough? This is for you: the students, the academicians, young business executives, an aspiring leader, those who are privileges to be occupying leadership position presently, the young entrepreneur still climbing the corporate ladder. I would like to use this medium to point some very salient and basic ingredients that will make you to be a voice to be reckoned with.

You need to understand; being a good presenter, eloquent speaking and smooth talking is part of it, not a prerequisite to be known as leader. Biblically, Moses was deficient in speech, but he successfully led the people of Israelite to their promise land which was the major task before him. You can be a good orator and command crowd and end up being a negative influence and antithetical for what leadership stand for; like Donald Trump kind of leadership. If you, unfortunately take him as a role model and your idea leader, you will only end up on the wrong side of history, because no nation can thrive in environment of hatred and war, because anarchy is a total failure of leadership. Don’t be carried away by the crowd, who throng his campaign ground and are thrill on daily basis with the Hollywood style show, you will be sort after as a show promoter, but not as leader when the chips are down.

What I am going to reveal here are not new, unfortunately they are the least existing and aspiring leaders usually pay attention to. These are vital secrets that endear a political figure to their constituency, the grassroots and to the larger society. Whether before attaining any leadership position or after attaining power. While some of the features are inborn, others are acquired through formal education, training and self-development. For an individual who is keen to build a career and remain positive and command loyalty from the people such person must possess these keys. While some of these top secrets elements are developed individually by the political actor, others are perfected by the political organisation. It is also worthy of mention here to know that “leadership” as mentioned in this context connotes spiritual leadership: Pastor’s, Imam’s, Priest and so on. Political leadership; Presidents of  countries, Prime Minister of countries, Kings and Queens, Ministers, Governors, National and states legislators, Local Government Chairmen and Councilors. Economic leadership: Corporate leaders such; Top Business executives, Manager’s, successful entrepreneurs. Professionals; Lawyer’s, Doctor’s, Engineer’s, Universities lecturers and students etc. The following are key features that make great leaders.


Dictionary definition of credible leader is the quality of being believable or worthy of trust. Why did a politician or someone seeking managerial or political position need credibility? You will get the answer wrong when you look credibility as just an academic experiment or exercise. Credibility is positively correlated to success in every sphere of life.  If you can’t define credibility or identify its elements or a credible personality, it is not possible for you as an individual to distinguish it or aspire to be credible yourself. It will therefore be difficult for you to take advantage of opportunities to boost your credibility and your success.

Credibility is difficult to measure because it is unlike height or weight which can be measure objectively. It is not something you either have or you don’t.  Credibility is more like a linear scale on which others give you a rating.  It is a perceived quality, one that people assign to you based on the interplay of a number of elements.

In some cases, a single extreme example might be sufficiently compelling to establish credibility.  For instance, if you successfully managed a presidential campaign, then that’s probably the only example you need to persuade prospective future clients that you have substantial political skill.  The Heaths refer to examples such as this as examples that pass the “Sinatra Test.”  As Frank Sinatra pointed out with regard to New York, “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”  If you successfully managed a presidential campaign, most people will be prepared to believe you can run any type of electoral campaign.

Identifying the elements of credibility is important because a high score on one or two elements does not guarantee a high credibility rating.  It’s the interplay that matters.  For example, experts are usually considered highly credible, unless or until they are perceived as biased or self-serving.  Lack of integrity can cancel out the positive impact of expertise.

Accordingly, you need to know all five elements of credibility and to examine yourself in light of these elements.  Give yourself a score between one and ten on each of these elements: Integrity, Competence, Sound judgment, Relational sensitivity, and Likeability: but do so from the perspective of others.  In other words, rate yourself on what others can observe rather than on what you intend.  Once you see your strengths and weakness, you can take positive steps to boost your credibility in the eyes of others.


First, if there is one defining characteristic of leaders who are effective over long periods of time, it’s that they behave in ways that cause people to see them as credible. That means that they are believable, and trusted, both in the specifics of what they say, and generally, as people. Do you want to be taking serious? You have to have an established pattern or style that is known to your peer or your subordinate through a consistent behavioural habit that is developed over time and remain with you.

Unfortunately, majority of employees do not trust their leaders. You can be a trusted, high-performing leader by adopting some simple but powerful habits. According to Peter Economy, research shows that only 49 percent of employees trust their senior management, and only 28 percent believe CEOs are credible source of information. This is an alarming statistic. Trust and credibility are like Siamese twins, they go hand in hand. Credibility is a trait which all leaders and potential leaders must strive to acquire. As a matter of fact, establishing credibility as a leader does not happen accidentally or coincidentally. It’s a process that involves time, effort, and patience, but it’s totally worth investing in for successful leadership. With credibility: leaders are highly dependable source of expertise, information, and decision making. A credible leader focuses on creating win-win situations for all. Credible leaders did not just talk, but their action reflects their speech, they don’t dwell on promises upon promises, but they consistently delivers on their promises. Leader in this category are highly respected, and they enjoy the trust and loyalty of their followers at all time.

Having known the important of being a credible leader, what can you do or what are the processes you need to undertake to develop yourself as a credible leader? The following are list of habits credible leaders practice on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis:

  1. They are respectful: Credible leaders abhor insults, manipulation, or humiliation to anyone publicly or privately. Credible leaders tends to believed and are convinced beyond reasonable doubts that respect is key in gaining people’s loyalty and respect in return.
  1. They are honest:Transparency and accountability are the watchword of credible leaders in every decisions and actions they undertake. When you are convinced as employees to a point that no hidden agendas is involve in your boss decision, you will only strive to give your best. These leaders foster an honest environment where unethical behavior isn’t tolerated.
  1. They are educated:Credible leaders always crave for more knowledge and understanding of complex issue, and in a bid to finding solution to such issue, they strive to embark on training continually. This could be through formal means or through self-development. It is a habit for credible leader to learn new thing to expand their knowledge and expertise. These leaders lead by example and recognize the importance of ongoing education to help them achieve what is required and more.
  1. They are competent: Because of the awareness and the need to command loyalty, credible leaders possess the requisite skills and the needed knowledge and understanding that will make them to function effectively in their field. They have a habit of developing multiple solutions to solve a single problem at every circumstance and situations they are faced with.
  2. They are accountable: They are accountable to every actions and decisions taken. No matter how the outcome of such actions and decisions may be, they take full responsibility for it. The acquired knowledge to some extent can guide them against error of judgment. However, they are humble to accept when they made a mistake and do everything that is needed to amend it in a prompt manner.
  1. They are loyal: Credible leaders ensure they continuously meet the psychological and emotional needs of their subordinates. They remain true to themselves and watch out for the interests of others. These leaders are supportive and really care about people; this is what helps gain reciprocal loyalty.
  2. They are trusting: It is not possible to delegate sensitive and important decision to followers if the trust is absence. Credible leaders are confident about the abilities of people and know how to delegate effectively. These leaders acknowledge that people become more engaged and committed when they are trusted.

We can deduce that credibility is not tangible in nature, but it’s the ways and manner leader behave that cause people to see them as credible. In our next series, we shall be looking into the first element of credibility which is integrity as one of the major feature of a leader. Your opinion and feedback is expected on the comment column. Do you like the piece? Kindly share.


Victor Imhangbe

Hey, there! I am Victor Imhangbe and I am the brain behind this great lifestyle blog where you get to read everything from life to education to fashion and pretty much about everything else. I invite you to keep keeping tab on our latest news and updates!

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