Attributes of True Leaders

eader is the saLeaders come in many different molds and what make a good leader in one industry might be completely different in another industry. Likewise, while many leaders possess a lot of the same attributes, not every lme. So, what attributes make true leaders? The answers will depend on the setting and upon whom you ask. I spend much of my time working with individuals that are great leaders in many different industries and professions. I often ask these individuals what they believe makes a true leader. I recently asked Jonathan Coslet, the Chief Investment Officer of TPG, what types of attributes he looks for when he evaluates a potential leader.

Experienced Leader

In addition to acting as the Chief Investment Officer of TPG, Jonathan also serves on the firm’s Executive Committee, and has been with TPG since its inception in 1993. Before he joined the firm, Jonathan worked at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, and before that, he spent time at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Jonathan graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he received his BS in economics and finance, and was also Valedictorian. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar. Jonathan also currently serves on the Board of Stanford Children’s Hospital, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Stanford Medical Advisory Council.

Good Leaders Have a Purpose

Jonathan explained that true leadership is very rare. He has seen dozens of CEOs in his time and some of them have been phenomenal leaders, while others have been less than remarkable. However, as he has considered these different leaders he has come to the conclusion that the leaders that were the most compelling to him had several traits and characteristics in common. Good leaders are always motivated by a purpose, not by money or ego, but rather by a reason for being. He said that purpose is what drives them every day and in everything they do. Secondly, he said good leaders always lead by example. In other words, while their words might be powerful, their actions are even more powerful.

Good Leaders Are Accountable to Results

Jonathan said good leaders also relate well to people because they are authentic and they are warm, even though they can be tough. They are also accountable to their purpose and their objective. That means even though they can relate to people, they still always answer to their results. “Those are rare things to see, but when you get that combination you can really have powerful leaders. That could be really powerful leaders like Gandhi or Martin Luther King, or it could be a business leader like Walt Disney who started a company because he loved children. He really wanted to change the world for children. Those are the kinds of people that are rare but when you find them it’ an amazing experience to get behind them.”

Johnathan Coslet’s American Dreams Radio Interview.