What It Means to Be a Good Leader Essay

Essay Prompt

Are you naturally a leader or a follower? What can you do to make yourself feel more comfortable as a leader or more effective as a leader? Please use the following components of a good leader:

1. self-awareness (know yourself, understand your moods, emotions as it affects others)

2. self regulation (ability to control your disruptive impulses and mood)

3. motivation (passion to work for reasons other than money and status)

4. empathy (understand the emotional makeup of others)

5. social skill (ability to find a common ground and build rapport)

Please write the essay as a leader not a follower.


I believe I am naturally a leader because I am self-aware, can control my impulses, am self-motivated, am capable of empathy, and have social skills.  Of these qualities, my social skills are the weakest set.  I can build rapport but I am also direct with people at times and do not display requisite amounts of Emotional or Social Intelligence.  As I am self-aware, I understand this to be a fault grounded in impatience; I am impatient at times and instead of treating people with the kind of intelligence that I know is needed at the moment, I can rush into making decisions on the spot and make pronouncements that should be reserved and given over time.  Thus, to make myself feel more comfortable as a leader and more effective as a leader, I can focus on this issue of patience and of working on developing social skills.  This paper will discuss what I can do to be a better leader based on the qualities I already possess.

In general, being a good leader is about being mindful—and I can be very mindful but sometimes I am more mindful of myself or of my own needs than I am of others.  This can hamper my leadership ability because leadership is not about focusing on one’s self 100% of the time but rather on focusing on an aim outside of oneself and directing/leading others to achieve that aim.  Leadership is about acting rightly and showing by example.

Knowing myself is something I have always tried to do—which is why I believe I am a natural leader.  I have always identified with Socrates who taught so long ago that we should know ourselves.  I think there is a great deal of wisdom in this idea because ultimately we are responsible for ourselves and we need to be accountable for our actions.  How will one know what he is to be accountable for if he does not really know who or what he is?  So one has to know himself in order to really be responsible.  This means one has to take a good long look at oneself—faults and all; but one should also be honest about one’s strengths because having false humility is an obstacle to really knowing oneself, too.  Knowing oneself means knowing your moods, when your better moods occur and why, when your worse moods occur and why, and the effect these have on others.

Then once this knowledge is gained, one can begin to regulate one’s actions, be aware of one’s moods and plan accordingly.  Motivation is also key to this exercise.  For me, I always like to help motivate others to succeed but I am sometimes uncertain about how best to lead in this way.  I can see what one should do or how one should change to achieve a specific goal—but I can be either too careful in how I give them advice or not careful enough—and both ways can lead to the person not accepting me as a leader.  The social skill aspect of leadership is one that I need to strengthen because I waffle back and forth between having too many scruples when it comes to the social part of leadership and not having enough scruples.

For me, I believe the trick is to maintain a high degree of empathy for others, which is something I can do naturally as I am very sensitive to what people are going through and how they must be feeling.  I can easily place myself in their shoes.  With this in mind, I should remember that I don’t always have to find the right words to say or the right advice to give because people can find these words and these ideas on their own—they can arrive at it through any number of ways.  I can offer it if they ask, but sometimes people are just looking for understanding—and I can give that while also providing a bigger picture perspective and making sure that common sense prevails in all situations.  This will help me become a better leader overall.