Qualities of a Leader

I became CEO of Berlin Packaging in 1989. Since then, I’ve evolved as a leader. I’ve learned from some great mentors, I’ve learned from my mistakes, I’ve taken classes, and I’ve read a lot of great books on the topic. 

To me, there are four pillars to leadership: integrity, articulated vision, work ethic, and voracious learning.

Integrity. You want to adhere to a set of moral and ethical principles. You want to be seen as honest and consistent. You want to be trustworthy. 

Articulated vision. You want to have a clear story of where you want to go and why. This is the vision. But having the vision is not enough; you also need to communicate that vision to those around you. You need to make it memorable. 

Work ethic. You want to walk the talk. Leadership is not about sitting in an ivory tower – it’s about making things happen. Rolling up your sleeves and sweating the details are necessary traits of a leader. You help make your vision come to life.

Lastly is voracious learning. This means that you have a hunger to make yourself and your organization better.   

So I think a great leader has these four qualities. You don’t have to take all this from me. There are thousands of books out there on leadership. But one of the best is a book by Warren Bennis called On Becoming a Leader. All the same themes run through his book. 

What I want to underscore is that being a leader really has nothing to do with where on the org chart you are. I’ve seen plenty of companies with people at the top of the organization where NOT leaders, they were merely the people that had risen highest in the team.

Leaders can exist anywhere. You can take ownership of your job and show leadership in delivering excellence. You can exhibit the principles of integrity, vision, work ethic, and voracious learning.