Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

4 Important Traits of Any Leader Worth Following

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Do you ever look at a leader and wonder how they became a person of great influence?

How did they get their following? How did they build their platform? How did they find their tribe?

Unfortunately it is easy to confuse the idea of celebrity and leader. And the difference is important because they are two completely different pursuits.

Searching for celebrity results in trying to win a popularity contest, much like being in high school all over again.

Celebrity is about statistics. The number of people that retweet you. The number of Facebook likes you receive. The requests you receive to have you speak.

People become nothing more than numbers. Ideas a way to get the attention of others.

True leadership is something entirely different..

President John Quincy Adams once said:

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

photo by Trey Ratcliff (Creative Commons)

Being a leader is about influencing others. It is about having ideas and dreams and then helping others to not only share in your vision but to begin taking steps toward that vision.

That vision will typically be one that benefits other people more than it benefits yourself. Being a leader is about changing the world for good.

In many ways, being a leader worth following is very similar to living a better story.

The quote reads as a way to evaluate yourself, but if you take it and turn it around, it can also be used as a road map to help you focus less on celebrity and more on becoming someone worth following.

1. Dream More. When we are kids, the sky is the limit. We imagine the impossible, never daunted by reality. When we become adults, we lose the art of dreaming big and replace it with a rigid sense of reality. Leaders are those that believe the impossible once again. They dream and they dream big.

Let yourself dream. Don’t hold back. Drop the word impossible from your vocabulary. Go ahead and solve world hunger. The crazier the better.

2. Learn More. A leader is always learning. They view the act of acquiring new knowledge not as a task or a job, but as a privilege. Every conversation becomes an opportunity to learn. Every mistake is a new lesson on how to do a better job. Every book contains some hidden gem that is theirs if they find it.

Never stop learning. Never stop growing. Become more knowledgeable and experienced every day.

3. Do More. An important difference between a leader and a dreamer is doing. It is not enough to develop ideas, you also have to execute. What good are the ideas if they are not put to action? How will they ever benefit anyone?

Turn off the TV. Ignore the internet. Start solving interesting problems and making a difference in the world.

4. Become More. The best leaders are not focused on the goal of becoming something. They ignore the temptation of fame or success. But because of their dedication to their work, they do become more. Becoming is a consequence of doing. And it’s worth it, with or without twitter followers.

When you dream, learn, and then do, eventually will help others become more as well.

Who are the leaders who influence you? How do they inspire you to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more?

Share in the comments.


About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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19 Replies

  1. This is a great statement: “That vision will typically be one that benefits other people more than it benefits yourself. Being a leader is about changing the world for good.”  Leaders not only charged to change the world for good, but also to lift up those that they lead.

  2. we did a leadership course at church – one comment was ‘leaders are people who others follow’ – whether that’s one or one hundred or more. You’re a leader if you’re a parent, if you organise the tea rota – the course was open to everyone. We all have the potential and opportunity to lead.
    Great post, Jeremy

  3. I think your comment and Sandra’s fit well together. Leadership isn’t just the idea of influence, but influence for good. Even bad influence is a type of leadership.

  4. I think you are right, Sandra. Leadership is influence regardless of how many. We are all trying to influence someone. A spouse. Kids. Co-workers, A boss. Employees. Friends. The question isn’t whether or not we are leading, but whether we are leading for good. Even bad influence is leadership.

  5. Matt Erickson

    Hey Jeremy, I’m enjoying your posts. Thanks for the encouragement. 

  6. Your welcome, Matt. You encourage me by reading and leaving a comment.

  7. I have many leaders in my life that inspire me and encourage me to become more.

    Here are four:

    Michael Hyatt – One of the masters of Leadership
    Dan Miller – Inspired me to start my own business
    Rick South – Guided me through my teenage years
    Felix Adame – Has created a wonderful men’s ministry that inspires me

  8. Do you want to leave links where we can learn from them too?

  9. Sure, but only two of them have websites.

    Michael Hyatt –
    Dan Miller –

  10.  Jeremy, please include yourself in this list as well. I have been SO blessed to have some amazing leaders guide me-just within the last year. 
     1. Jon Acuff has showed me great kindness and guided me toward the pursuit of my dream. 2. Joe Bunting Joe has been a great friend and supported me when I just began writing.3. Jeff Goins Jeff has inspired me through his writing as well as met with me and told me “You’re a writer when you say you are,” at a very critical time.4. Andi Cumbo- Andi has been so kind, supportive and helpful. A genuine person who lets it show.   

  11. Thanks for the kind words. It’s a great list. I’m not familiar with Andi, so I’ll go check out the website.

  12. She has a weekly writer’s Twitter chat and also teaches writing courses, one of which I’m taking.  She is very encouraging and supportive. 

  13. Lorna Faith

    I love that quote by John Quincy Adams…and what you said Jeremy ‘that vision will typically be one that benefits other people more than it benefits yourself. Being a leader is about changing the world for good.’ I love that…here’s to becoming more of a leader everyday:-) 

  14. I like what you said about doing every day. I’m with you on that journey, Lorna.

  15. iamwendydawn

    Great post!! Leadership is a topic I love discussing. I believe a great quality that leaders must possess is something I learned from my Pastor who naturally is one of the greatest leaders in my life. He taught us the importance of reaching back. When you reach back to help someone else get to where you are, you are not giving them a hand-out but you are giving them a hand-up. So the two greatest leaders in my life are my Spiritual parents – Bishop Daniel Robertson, Jr. and Co-Pastor Elena Robertson. You can check out their websites at and 
    They recently celebrated their 16th Pastoral Anniversary. 

    You can visit my blog at

  16. Here is to reaching back today. thanks, Wendy.

  17. This is so true! Thanks for sharing!

  18. The quotation you have chosen to post by John Quincy is amazing and very powerful.

    Some of the leaders that I have had the honour of being personally lead by are –

    Paul Reid – Retired pastor at my church
    Priscilla Reid – Prophet and my former small group leader at cfcbelfast
    Alastair & Pauline Roy – directors of Cleansing Stream Ireland
    Chris Lusk – Director of Student Services at the University of St Andrews
    Erwin MacManus – Moasic California
    Bill Johnston – Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry

    I would also like to add to my list is Bob Goff, I am incrediably inspired by his book ‘love Does’ and his loving style of leadership that is evident in his words.

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