There are too many managers out there and not enough leaders.

A manager’s authority comes from their position or title. Employees tend to follow their direction because they have to. A leader motivates people through their actions and people follow them because they want to. Leaders do not need an official title or position of authority. They are a leader because of who they are.

What are the most important qualities of a leader? Is one skill more important than another? Are people born with these skills or can they be developed? Good answers to these questions are found in the new book “The Dichotomy of Leadership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

Good leaders have many common skills which include honesty, integrity, confidence, commitment and accountability. In addition, good leaders inspire others to achieve their full potential. They are good listeners and great communicators. Most leaders are creative thinkers and exceptional problem solvers. They are not afraid to make decisions, even in the face of tremendous risk. When things go wrong, they accept full responsibility. When things go right, they are quick to credit others for that success.

None of us are born proficient at all of these skills. Through genetic inheritance and life lessons we develop them. A good leader continues to learn and develop their leadership skills every day. Even though they are confident, they are humble enough to recognize they have much to learn from other people.

Without humility and a willingness to learn from others, it is nearly impossible to develop any of the other leadership skills. This is why it can be argued that humility is the most important leadership skill.

According to the book, there is one other leadership skill that is critically important, almost as important as humility. We will discuss that particular skill in a future Biz Tip of the Week article.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free, small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For information, go to, send an email to or call 505-3636.