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The Leadership Trifecta

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Any and every blog, book, or blurb you read about leadership will list dozens of adjectives to describe a true Leader. Passionate, reliable, relatable, straightforward, dedicated, encouraging, hardworking, flexible, inspiring . . . the descriptors go on and on. In all honesty, none of us can have every one these characteristics. It’s simply not possible to be that perfect. We are flawed human beings, and while some leadership traits may be inherent to our individual natures, no one person can be all things to all people. Rather than trying to encapsulate perfection (the topic of another blog for another time), let's focus on three attributes of a strong Leader: empathy, integrity, and respect.

I call this the “Leadership Trifecta” – three characteristics of a successful Leader. Can you be a Leader without them? Sure. History provides hundreds of examples of Leaders who lacked empathy or integrity, who led through fear or intimidation. History also reveals the true nature of those individuals, and while they may have held the title of “Leader” in the moment, the lasting impressions are less than impressive. Without empathy, a Leader may appear cold or disinterested. Without integrity, dishonest or calculated. Without mutual respect, how can a Leader and their team build trust?

Empathy, integrity, and respect: each trait is both individual and related. All other leadership characteristics can be tied back to one of these three, and as we aim to become better leaders, to shine a light on our own opportunities, to strengthen our abilities to inspire and influence, this is where to start. Do I exhibit the trust I have in my team? Do I live and work in a way that reflects my values? Do I express understanding and kindness? How would my employees describe my leadership in these areas?

Not sure? Ask them, and then act.

"Leadership is not the same as being a leader. Leading means others are willing to follow, not because they have to, but because they want to." - Simon Sinek

empathy integrity and respect venn diagram


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