How Do You Become A Great Leader?

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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I am commonly asked, “What are the necessary attributes of a great leader?”

I am going to answer that question differently than most probably would. Rather than list a whole host of qualities that are the “buzzwords” of the day, I am going to give you two attributes:

  • Power

  • Influence

This answer stems from the definition of leadership: A person that possess the power and influence to direct others to goal achievement.

This answer also implies that if we want to become a better leader we need to improve our power and influence. Per my previous blog post, there are two ways we can do this. We can improve our organizational power (become someone that others HAVE TO follow; e.g., get promoted into a position of formal authority), or we can improve our personal power (become someone that others WANT TO follow).

Each has its pros and cons. Improving our organizational power is easier and quicker, but less healthy and less effective in the long run. Improving our personal power is harder and more time-consuming, but more effective and more healthy in the long run. Thus, the best way for us to become a better and more effective leader is to improve our personal power by becoming someone others WANT TO follow.

But, how do we become someone others WANT TO follow? In this blog post, I am going to give you three traditional recommendations. In future blog posts, I will give you more cutting-edge ideas.

1. Develop knowledge or expertise that others rely upon

If you are the only person that knows how to do X, and your coworkers need help with X, you will be in a healthy position of being able to positively influence them.

  • Idea for development: Select a time frame (2, 4, 6 months), and determine a topic that you want to develop an expertise around. For example, I have seen people do this with cryptocurrency. By devoting a few hours every week, these people have developed an expertise on a topic that a lot of other people want to know about. They now have people coming to them for advice on a consistent basis. Forget the 10,000-hour rule. Research suggests that it only takes 20 hours to learn anything.

2. Develop qualities that engender others to you. 

Become someone that others want to be around. Be kind, respectful, humble, authentic, fun, charismatic, etc. If people do not want to work with you, you will not be able to positively influence them.

  • Idea for development: Change your stories. We all have stories that we tell ourselves, and we often think that these stories are unchangeable. For example, one story I have told myself is that I am a short-distance runner. This has prevented me from running more than a couple miles at a time. But, just a couple weeks ago, I went running with my brother and we ran for almost four miles. You may not think that you are fun, charismatic, loveable, etc. But, you are. You are just carrying around an incorrect story. Give yourself permission to change your stories that are preventing you from being a person others want to associate with.

3. Improve and strengthen your social network

If you have a good relationship with someone that others want to get to know, you will become someone that others are willing to be positively influenced by.

  • Idea for development: Put yourself in the places where you can meet and associate with respected individuals. Join a professional association, networking group, or Chamber of Commerce. What I have learned is that the building of networks starts slow and only speeds up. So, be patient, make continual investment in your network, and don’t give up.


If you can focus on all three of these areas, you will quickly improve your personal power and influence, and become more of someone others WANT TO follow.

What have you done to (1) develop expertise, (2) become someone others want to be around, and/or (3) improve and strengthen you social network? Comment below so we can learn from you.

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