March 2019

How Do You Define a Great Leader?

Hear from Toastmasters Board of Directors members on how they define a great leader.


March 2019


What makes for a great leader? In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we posed this question to the nine female members currently serving on the Toastmasters International Board of Directors. Who better to help us look at what makes for a great leader than those who lead this great organization? Here’s what a few of them had to say.

To Radhi Spear, DTM, a leader not only sets a course, but takes action. “I believe a great leader has a vision, communicates that vision persuasively and leads by example,” she says. “In the corporate world, bosses can tell us what to do and we do it to keep our jobs and receive our paychecks whereas outside the corporate world it doesn’t really work that way. How many times have our kids shown us our inconsistencies in what we ask of them compared to what we practice ourselves?”

For Tuire Vuolasvirta, DTM, great leaders inspire and motivate others to achieve more and reach unimaginable goals. “For me, a great leader is one who can bring out the best in each person. The qualities of a great leader are courage, self-confidence and authenticity,” Vuolasvirta stated.

If you read our recent article titled “5 New Year’s Resolutions for Leaders,” you’ll remember that one of our resolutions was for leaders to listen more. This point is echoed by Margaret Page, DTM, who states, “Great leaders are authentic in their interest in people and their problems — their ability to emotionally connect is a superpower. They listen deeply and are intent on learning, and their willingness to find solutions flows from their empathy for other people.”

In business, leaders are expected to show results—be it in sales, increased performance, decreasing expenses or other measurable metrics. However, leaders can’t do everything themselves and most have a team supporting them. As much as results matter, they won’t be met if leaders don’t have a strong relationship with team members. “Strong leaders have strategic vision and are committed to a balance between results and relationships,” Carol Prahinski, DTM, claims.

International President Lark Doley, DTM, shares her ideas on great leaders being uninhibited by their ego. “Leaders need to ‘check their ego at the door’, empower their teams, prioritize, and execute to succeed.” Doley goes on to say, “Great leaders are not born; they are made.”

Becoming a great leader is a never-ending quest requiring constant evaluations, feedback and improvement. However, the path starts by defining, in your own words, what makes for a great leader. Stop, take some time and reflect. How would you answer this question?