Image for post
Image for post

20 Key Traits of a Modern Leader

James Ryan Leonard
Mar 14, 2019 · 3 min read

1. He sees his direct reports as people within his care. He considers their well-being, growth and fulfillment to be his responsibility.

2. She has lofty ideas about the future, but is very particular about her daily habits and practices.

3. He doesn’t solve problems. He coaches others to find solutions.

4. If she feels trapped, she keeps looking for a way out until she finds one. If a process is broken, she works on fixing it until it is fixed. If trust is damaged in a relationship, she starts rebuilding it. She does not complain much.

5. He does not abide conversations about tactics while the vision or strategy remain unclear.

6. She constantly seeks personal growth, and she attains it, partly because she enjoys the work.

7. He knows just enough about technology to have a vague sense for what the next big shift might be and when it might come.

8. She is skeptical of new tools and services, but won’t hesitate to use one that will advance her and her tribe toward their vision.

9. He understands that leaders can spring forth from any corner of an org chart.

10. When considering a new job opportunity or other venture, she is guided by her values, and considers finances only when necessary.

11. He is rigorous in assuming positive intent in others. Even when faced with hate and deceit, he approaches with generosity and curiosity. He swears by this.

12. She lives to help others, but not everybody, because that’s impossible. She knows who she can help, and how she can help them.

13. He considers the morale of those closest to him — both at home and at work — before considering the morale of others.

14. She is an effective guide, but gives few directions.

15. He speaks openly about the changes he’s seeking to make in himself and in the world. This helps him build trust, and it helps him build a tribe.

16. She has had great bosses, and she has had terrible bosses, and she has thrived under all of them. (She’s also getting tired of having bosses.)

17. He knows there are millions of things in the world that he cannot control, so he’s given up worrying. Instead, he acts. And he strives to do the right thing in every situation.

18. She knows she could die tomorrow. She’s also read that technology might allow us to live forever. She moves through life with both of these in mind, and acts accordingly.

19. He does not seek praise, approval or accolades. He does not demand loyalty or obedience. He knows these things will come about — in their own time — as a result of his leadership.

20. She is a leader, even if others don’t see it yet. She’ll continue to lead, even if they never do.

James Ryan Leonard is a PR professional, leadership coach and author. He is a giver of tokens and a purveyor of positive intent. He enjoys writing in third, second and first person.

Sign up for Top Stories

By Live Your Life On Purpose

A newsletter that delivers Live Your Life On Purpose's most popular stories to your inbox once a month.  Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

James Ryan Leonard

Written by

Author and leadership coach. Public relations professional. Purveyor of positive intent.

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

James Ryan Leonard

Written by

Author and leadership coach. Public relations professional. Purveyor of positive intent.

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store