20 Key Traits of a Modern Leader

James Ryan Leonard
Live Your Life On Purpose
3 min readMar 14, 2019

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.)



James Ryan Leonard
Live Your Life On Purpose

Human, author, leader. Inward explorer. Ever a work in progress.