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What makes a REAL leader a success?

“Leaders become great not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others” - John Maxwell

Let us be honest, being a successful leader in the 21st century is a challenging and daunting task whether you are leading a for-profit or a non-profit organisation. It has been said that being a follower is easy but to become a leader is difficult. That is really true.

We certainly do not want to fail as a leader. But if you are a leader, I believe you have more than likely failed at one point or another in your leadership journey. One of the common leadership failures that leaders face today is the lack of the essential elements necessary to lead well and finish well as a successful leader.

What separates a REAL leader from the pack? Why are some leaders able to lead well and finish well better than others?  Are there ways to recognize a REAL leader?

The key difference between today’s successful and unsuccessful leaders is how they think and act in these four essential traits as a REAL leader.


Real leaders focus on people and not things. As Jim Kouzes, the leadership guru says, “Love them and lead them”. Real leaders not only possess great ability to work with people, they also believe in sowing seeds that benefit others. The healthy relationships certainly add value to people’s lives and help grow them to their maximum potential.


Real leaders understand the Law of Significance: One is too small a number to achieve greatness. As business challenge escalates, the need for effective teamwork elevates.  Real leaders are willing to take time in equipping others and further expand their potential.  The task of a Real leader is to create, expand and preserve capabilities - not limit them.


Real leaders possess positive mental attitude. They believe success is never an ending journey and failure is never final. While those who are not Real leaders say, “It’s impossible, we can’t do it”, a Real leader always finds a way, does whatever needs to be done and works with the team to overcome challenges ahead.


Real leaders know that leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness and that leadership development is a process.  The greatness of leadership develops daily and is not something that happens immediately or in a day.  It is the result of a leader’s patience, diligent practice and hard work in turning the shared vision into reality.

Therefore, the decision to become a successful leader is a choice. Just as my friend, John Maxwell, one of the world’s most influential leadership experts says, “Leadership has less to do with position than it does with disposition”. Moving toward these healthy habits of thinking and possessing the characteristics of a REAL leader helps you to become capable of increasing your sphere of influence and success!


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Author: Alfred Cheah

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