The anatomy of a great leader

October 5, 2014
LeAnn Akins

LeAnn Akins


Every great leader has certain qualities or characteristics which make them a great leader; great leaders have a certain make-up which allows them to lead fearlessly, with graciousness, and with strength. But where do these qualities come from? Are they learned or are they inherent? This brings us to the question of is a leader made or born? Well, maybe it’s a combination of both. All great leaders have specific traits, some maybe cultivated or practiced, while others are natural and just need to be refined. Here are some things to consider when determining if our current leadership is the kind of leadership in a local, state, and national setting we would like to have represent us and have our interests at heart.

The mind of every leader must be honed to act and think deliberately, methodically, and as a problem-solver. The leaders’ mind must understand that their words and actions mean something to the people they are leading. The leader’s mind must operate from a position of understanding and a willingness to reach a deeper understanding, rather than gloss over issues on the surface. A leader must also understand their purpose. If they misunderstand their purpose, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader must have ears which actively listen to what people are saying. Actively listening to people means that you make meaning of those words, you connect it with your current knowledge, and you take it into consideration. A leader who actively listens will not be dismissive. A leader who actively listens will hear what people say and use what they hear to better the group. If a leader cannot hear or listen to the people, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader needs to have strong shoulders to carry the burdens of touch decisions. The leader cannot shove the burden from themselves onto others, nor does a strong leader attempt to do this. A leader also needs strong arms to do the heavy lifting when required. A leader cannot expect the people to bear the burden alone—a leader has to be part of the team who works to lift the burden and works to mitigate the burden. If a leader cannot take up the burden of the people, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader needs legs. The leader’s legs need to not only walk the path the people they lead walk, but need to stand strong a firm when it matters most. The leader cannot be seen running the other direction when thing become difficult. The leader’s legs cannot waiver or buckle under pressure. If a leader cannot walk with their people, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader needs a tongue that is not afraid to speak out or have tough conversations. The leader’s tongue also has to be willing to talk with and not at the people the leader leads. If the leader’s tongue cannot follow these necessary guidelines, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader needs a heart. The heart of the leader needs to be one where it loves to serve the people, not their own interests. The heart of a true leader has deep convictions and a moral guidepost. A strong leader knows that are here to be a servant, not a benevolent dictator. If a leader does not have a pure heart, or the heart of a leader, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader needs hands. The leader’s hands need to be willing to work, get dirty while working, and ultimately be used for the people’s sakes, not their own. The leader’s hands must work to show that they are not just there to tell people what to do, but to work alongside of the people regardless of the task at hand. If a leader cannot work alongside the people, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader needs feet. The leader’s feet must be able to take issues and solutions to the people. The leader’s feet must take the leader to the people so they can gather questions, concerns, and knowledge in order to not rely on their own understanding. If a leader only relies on their own understanding, they will not be a strong leader.

A leader needs a soul. The leader’s soul ultimately determines how the leader is going to lead. Whether they use their position for good or evil and whether they serve the people or themselves. The leader’s soul will guide them through their time in office and will become very apparent when there are hard issues to solve and ethical dilemmas to face. If a leader does not have a soul built on the other qualities, they will not be a strong leader.

Our communities, states, and nation deserve leaders who are strong leaders. We have people who are currently making large sweeping promises, but what we truly need is people are not afraid to lead. Promises are not always kept, but actions can always back up language. It is time for all American’s to vote for leaders who back up their language with actions, actions which will truly make a difference in our lives, rather than only impact their own.

LeAnn Akins is an educator and a resident of Arroyo Grande.



  1. Slowerfaster says:

    A leader needs a prehensile tail, to grasp issues that others cannot.
    Also, to allow the other limbs and hands to grab low-hanging fruit to throw at opponents.

    Not many of those ‘leaders’ have ascended to political office, except in the unreconstructed confederacy.

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. surferdude says:

    Special public meeting of the Arroyo Grande City Council…..
    Wait for it….
    Wait for it…..
    Wait for it
    9 am Wednesday, October 8th

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
    • LeAnn says:

      The down side of this meeting is that there is one agenda item—-no public comment on anything else—-I still say we show up with signs saying resign, step down, etc.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
      • doglover says:

        Omg yes
        You can comment on anything you want
        I think Carmel is wrong on his published public comment
        Let’s google it up!

        Perhaps each speaker should say they made a mistake with the agenda that the item should be accepting Mr Adams resignation effectively immediately!

        Remember this is about the COVER UP and the MAYOR!

        (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Don’t you know this will be the announcement they have concluded their independent investigation and the results confirm their previous determination, nothing to report.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. isoslo says:


    Nice letter, that’s for taking the time to remind the voters of what to look for instead of just following party lines because you hate the opposing party.

    (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
    • LeAnn says:

      People just need to make informed decisions—–and potential leaders need to know where they come from……..

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
    • isoslo says:

      Oops…Thanks not that’s

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  4. Slowerfaster says:

    I remember Ahnold going on the Jay Leno show when he announced that he was running for goobenor, saying that what California needed was “leeedership”.

    Then he got elected and led with a different part of his anatomy.

    (-2) 6 Total Votes - 2 up - 4 down
    • kayaknut says:

      He just used the same part the California Democrats have been using on us for decades

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
      • agag1 says:

        Look who he was sleeping with, it obviously rubbed off.

        (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
    • topper01 says:

      …Much like, “I did not have sexual relationship with that woman, Ms Lew……”

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  5. Rich in MB says:

    The Problem in a Representative Republic is that we get the Government the Voters are dumb enough to elect. Just look at your local City Government and National Government. It’s not the politicians that are the problem…it is the Voters.

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
    • agag1 says:

      Wait, are you saying we shouldn’t vote for the guy who promises us a free phone?

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
      • isoslo says:

        How about the guy who promised my family health insurance premiums would go down approximately $2,500

        (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  6. Paso_citizen says:

    Leann, again you nailed it. Leadership; the pure, unadulterated ability to lead a city,
    a county, a state, or a country is a quality that is sorely missing in the overwhelming
    majority of those we have elected (and put our faith in).

    Although some commenters want to use your article as a way to slam Obama or Bush;
    the real issue affecting voters in SLO county is our own local “leaders”. We, the voters,
    have became so complacent; or so involved with our own daily life struggles (job,
    marriage, kids, cost of everything, etc.) that we have forgotten what it means to be an
    informed citizen.

    And the real sad result is that the so-called “leaders” we have elected know that. They
    know they can pretty much do whatever they want, with a very low probability of being
    held accountable. They are in the position they are in; not because of their actions or
    deeds; but because of their words. Those who are in an elected office have learned how to ‘play the game’ – which ‘backs to pat’, what words to say, what mostly ‘meaningless
    actions’ to take – in order to protect their own, while continuing to ‘pull the wool’ over the
    eyes of the citizens they were elected to serve. And those in a non-elected position;
    those that were appointed, have the added demand of knowing full-well they owe
    allegiance to the one that appointed them. Making it difficult, if not impossible, to be
    a true leader with a majority of the 9 qualities you list.

    What can we, the voters, do about this? First, we must take ownership. We must
    demand (not just ask for) better from our elected and appointed “leaders”.

    There was an excellent quote in the most recent issue of the Paso Robles Magazine;
    page 8. Quote from Edward R. Murrow –

    “A nation of sheep soon begets a government of wolves”

    The word ‘nation’ can easily be replaced with ‘city, ‘county, or ‘state’ and still of profound
    significance and applicability to the situations in every city in SLO county.

    (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down

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