When you hear phrases like “He/she has the IT Factor”, “they just have a natural charisma about them” or “they have great leaderships skills”, do you wonder what exactly they mean by those statements?  In a May 26th Sports Illustrated article, writer Sarah Kwak refers to this as “the less easily defined ability to lead.”

Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said of team captain Jonathan Toews, “He had that quality (leadership) from the day we first drafted him.  He’s got that aura about him, of just being someone that you’re going to follow.”

In an effort to discover this “less defined ability” along with what “that quality” and “that aura” are, I dove deeper into Kwak’s great article.  Upon doing so I gleaned 15 Qualities Of Leaders Worth Following.

Whether you lead a church, business, non-profit or athletic organization, make a checklist of the following items and see how many apply to you and your team:

  1. Leaders Worth Following Are Bridge Builders – In professional hockey, part of the team captain’s role includes building bridges and establishing lines of communication between the coaches, players and referees.
  2. Leaders Worth Following Have Composure During Times Of Stress – Widely considered the best player in hockey, Sidney Crosby lost his composure during in this year’s second round series loss to the New York Rangers.  Conversely, Toews has four game winning goals in this year’s playoffs alone and 10 in his career.
  3. Leaders Worth Following Are Respected By Other Leaders – Sportsnet’s Mark Spector recently conducted a survey of five NHL scouts about whether they would select Toews or Crosby if given the opportunity.  Four selected Toews.  San Jose Sharks forward Adam Burish said, “If you were starting a hockey team and you could pick one player in the entire world, (Toews) is the guy.”  Crosby himself respects Toews so much he received permission from him before becoming Canada’s Olympic team captain.
  4. Leaders Worth Following Take Responsibility – Toews has the nickname Captain Serious.  He does not take his duties lightly.
  5. Leaders Worth Following Put The Team First – As a leader you will either serve others or serve yourself.  Bowman says, “Jonathan’s the ultimate team guy.  And it’s a constant theme for him.  It’s all about the team.  He’s not bigger than anybody.”
  6. Leaders Worth Following Show Compassion To Those Who Do Not Deserve It – It is hockey tradition to not put a person’s name on the Stanley Cup unless they played in half their team’s games and dressed for the Stanley Cup.  Teammate Jamal Mayers had done neither.  “Jamal deserves to be on it,” Toews told Bowman.  He even had the letters CAPT removed from his name so the Cup would have room to fit Mayers’s name in.
  7. Leaders Worth Following Use Their Position To Improve The Lives Of Others – As teammates Michal Handzua and Marian Hossa were approaching their 1,000 career games, Toews had commemorative silver hockey sticks made.   He also would not sign his contract extension until teammates Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith’s were done.
  8. Leaders Worth Following Understand Authority – When comparing Toews to another superstar, Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin, it was noted Ovechkin has been through three coaches in three years.
  9. Leaders Worth Following Are Approachable – When Toews went through a goal scoring slump, teammate Brent Seabrook had the freedom to challenge his sub-par performance.
  10. Leaders Worth Following Count What Counts – When Seabrook asked Toews what he was thinking about during the slump, Toews responded, Scoring goals.”
  11. Leaders Worth Following Do Whatever It Takes – Bowman says, “He has other (facets to his game). ..He’s so effective in so many ways, but he’s not so effective in just one way that maybe it dilutes his greatness.”
  12. Leaders Worth Following Perform Dirty Work – Leaders are servants first.  Smart leaders never ask someone to do something they are not willing to do themselves.  Toews said, “I look at a guy like Niklas Hjalmarsson and (think), like, It’s not right for him to block shots and for (me) to say that that’s not a part of my job as well.”
  13. Leaders Worth Following Are Focused – Teammate Kris Versteeg says, “That determination is evident in every shift.  He can just will the puck into the net…He has enough skill, but it’s his will (that sets him apart).”
  14. Leaders Worth Following Are Fanatically Consistent – The team must be able to count on those in leadership.  Bowman adds, “There’s sort of repetitiveness to his effort…You might not have a lot of talent, buy you can push yourself to bring it all the time.”
  15. Leaders Worth Following Are The Embodiment The Organization’s Values – Leaders should be the desired destination at which others wish to arrive.  After a successful ad campaign, TJ Flood, Canadian Tire senior vice president of marketing, said “Jonathan is just such a great ambassador for what Canada stands for.”

Leaders, are you an ambassador for what your organization stands for?


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