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.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

A leader needs a cult of followers.

“In a land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”.

The fact of the matter is, Tony and the council think we are all blind, or they have attempted to keep us blind, but we are not and they need to know this.

Well, this person you describe hasn’t existed since Reagan, and don’t expect him to surface in the future either.

OK, that was too funny.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

Well, we have the sit down, shut up, and don’t ask questions group leading us now.

Time for a change AG, write-in Jim Hill for Mayor

E Mail: to help canvas your neighborhood.

A few more bodies will make a huge difference!

Let us know if you’d like a yard sign, they’re popping up!

Call 441-5133 if you’d like to volunteer, we’d like to hear from you!

I don’t know if I could describe what a good leader is, but I know one when I see one (to paraphrase a quote on pornography).

Seriously, I don’t know if I agree that a leader has to be defined in such minute detail. For instance, the part on listening to the “people”. Usually the loudest people are the ones you probably shouldn’t be listening to if you want to be an effective leader. We shouldn’t expect our leaders to be perfect but to be honest, intelligent and passionate about getting us to work as a team to better our cities, states and country.

If we don’t define leaders in terms of what they should be doing, then we get the leaders we currently have. I am not satisfied with the leadership we currently have in AG and feel it needs to change—deeply. Listening doesn’t mean you just listen to the people who are the loudest, you listen to all the people and you solicit thoughts, concerns, questions, additional information……I am not expecting a perfect leader. I am expecting the leaders in AG to wake up, do a better job, and be more aware of their role in the community.

So, for the people who disliked my reply above, is it that you have no expectations of our leaders? If that is the case, I would rather be someone who has expectation of my leaders than not—I would rather call the leaders out on their mistakes, mishaps, and lack of leadership so they can either change their ways, or I can work to get them out of office. We don’t have room in government matters anymore who are complacent and willing to accept the status quo. The status quo is not providing leadership nor are they providing the kinds of opportunities for citizens to get involved as they should. They have turned their backs on the members of the community they were elected and appointed to serve. They have dismissed the concerns of the voting public. They have hid behind policies they do not enforce and have made excuses for their behavior. Leaders need to stand up and take responsibility for their actions not hide behind closed door sessions.

No one in world history better exemplifies these ideals than our own fearless warrior in the White House, Barack àhussein Obama!

for a center right authoritarian he has done a fine job of extending the Bush Administration’s contributions.

Really???? is it really necessary to bring Bush in on this, come one, that was years ago….. the problems we have now are owned by those doing the problems not blamed on someone else

oh excuse me! have I said something false or derogatory about either man?

Please re-read my comment, I did not say anything indicating your comment was false or derogatory, my comment was questioning the need to bring it up at all and in response to an article regarding a truly local issue.

A leader, in real life, must have a hard head to bang against the bureaucratic brick wall repeatedly without losing their mind and direction. Many well meaning leaders go in with good intentions and succumb to status quo in order to maintain their position. The good ones quit. The rest get reelected by compromising the values that put them there.

I have no solution but I do my little part on election day. I never vote for an incumbent unless they have dazzled me. (Never happened.) My ballot is easy to fill out.

It will be important for Barbra Harmon to keep her independence since the council has banded together in this moment of crisis

I think Tim Brown is averting against Tony we will see.

Hope you are correct, time will tell…

They have banned together because all they have is each other.

NO ONE believes Adams OR them at this point. The first one who breaks away, and tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth has to turncoat on the others.

It will not be Barneich, or ‘ole Joe.

Damn sure won’t be the ringleader Ferrara, so let’s see what kind of man Mr Brown is. Will he do what’s right for the people of AG, or side with the rest of the complicit Council?

So three months after the July 3rd incident we are no better off.

Mr. Adams has claimed he will resign at some date in the future

The City Council has decided after all to have an outside investigation, but NO ONE knows the scope of the work, the timetable, or WHO will be interviewed.

The AGPOA continue to work with no confidence in their Mayor or Administrator.

And the City Council still follows the lead of MAYOR FERRARA.

Get it: If Steve and Theresa were having tea at City Hall and the police walked in…. There would be NO STORY. The COVER UP is the STORY. They are working so HARD to have us believe an unbelievable story

BTW The employee handbook is for everyone, not the select few the MAYOR would like to use it against!

There is talk that actually in the city manager, as well as department heads, contracts is wording to the effect that they do not have to adhere to city policy. If this is true you have to wonder why the city council would agree to this wording in a manger level contact, and what they or the mayor is getting in return. Certainly without asking the people is they want this kind of wording in contracts.

So who wants to bet the investigation will be wrapped up by Nov 4th and will show that Adams has indeed committed at least ONE violation which will result in his resignation being accepted?

Of course, the investigation WILL NOT reveal why the council chose not to appropriately act on the information in the first place (since we all know they knew it all along), nor will it explain who led the charge on this “let’s pretend we didn’t know the police had more information that would have required us fire Adams immediately”.

The investigation MUST be focused on Ferrara and his band of merry men, and don’t forget the maiden.

And a leader is honest…

A leader can make a mistake and turn around and act appropriately and APOLOGIZE for his error.

Read the Tribune interview with Costello , he is no leader either. Both Ferrara and Costello are done.

And that letter to the editor today dissing the AGPD,

We need to SHOW UP and SPEAK our MINDS on the 14th!

Mayor Ferrara said:

“ It wasn’t because we thought the police (umm) were trying to hide something. It’s because we believe them. And we still do. But if it takes another person to look at this, and come back with a determination that yes, they were telling the truth, then (umm) I think that’s what we want to report right now out of closed session.

We have made a determination that if that’s what it is going to take, and I should indicate to you that (umm) we anticipated this, we anticipated this a couple meetings ago, There was some, (umm) there was some (umm) direction or some concern about the time limit after the incident. And when we had our special meeting that I can tell you. We were doing our homework back then. We put together a list of investigators, potential investigators. (Umm)We asked for costs.

So that’s the direction that the Council is willing to move in if that’s what it is going to take (umm) to make this right (umm) and yes, we are going to have to pay (umm) money to have it done…… And we are going to go outside of the County to do it so nobody can come back and say we have had prior contact with the City. That’s not going to happen

There is a subcommittee that we decided will work with the City Attorney to make that selection. Council member Brown and Mayor Pro Tem Guthrie….

you mean these are not the words of a great leader?

Must have been an issue with the teleprompter on this particular evening. It sounds as thought he was winging it, clearly off script and not one of his better moments.

LOL! Is he related to Obama by any chance?