8 Qualities of Heroic Leaders

Like a “Help Wanted” sign hanging in a storefront window, the world is asking for help in the form of heroes, says Rodney Bullard, executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation. In his recently released book Heroes Wanted, Rodney explains that our culture today is crying for leaders—heroes—who will step up and take action to inspire others and create a legacy of service. Rodney says that if you’re going be  not just a leader, but a hero, there are eight qualities you must embody:

1. Calling: For Rodney, the calling to be a hero came when he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice. Rodney believes that every leader has been called to be a hero for someone—to find that person, all you need to do is look around you, he says. In fact, Rodney calls it the 3-foot rule: He believes every leader should look 3 feet in front of them to find out how they can be a hero to someone else.

2. Commitment: Rodney believes that if we start focusing on the people around us, we are more likely to commit to being a hero for others.

3. Compassion: Compassion is one of the most important heroic qualities that’s missing in leadership culture, says Rodney. He believes having compassion and empathy are crucial if leaders are going to be heroes to those around them.

4. Connection: Everyone wants to connect with others, but it takes courage to put yourself out there and allow for true connections to exist. Connections are important, says Rodney. They draw our hearts to people, passions and convictions. 

5. Conviction: To be a hero others need, you must be firm in your mission and what you believe. For Rodney, he says it’s the convictions of his parents that allow him to lead the way he does today.

6. Community: Being a hero the world so desperately needs doesn’t mean you need to tackle global problems. Rodney says leaders should serve their immediate communities first and foremost.

7. Courage: Many people they feel like they can’t be a hero because of their flaws. But Rodney says if we use our flaws and are open about them, it can help us empathize and relate to people and give those we are leading reason to trust us.

8. Charity: The full title of Rodney’s book is Heroes Wanted: Why the World Needs You to Live Your Heart Out. Living your heart out involves one quality the heart is famously known for: love. It’s what every leader needs to be a hero, says Rodney, and charity is a big part of that. Being a hero means being a servant leader and giving yourself, your services or your resources to those who need it the most.

As you go forward in your leadership, think about how you’re being a hero to those who follow you. Are you creating a legacy of servant leadership that will exist long after you’re gone? Are you making decisions with courage and compassion? Rodney says that when we decide to adhere to these eight qualities and show a desire to lead and be a hero for others, our lives become full and we become the leaders we were made to be.


Maina Mwaura

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