The Best Traits of Respected Leadership

Photo Credit: jeffw616 / HBO / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: jeffw616 / HBO / Dreamworks Pictures / MovieStillsDB

There’s a pulsating heart that beats within the chest of any great organization or team: a leader. Not just any leader, but one who’s revered, respected and serves as the compass guiding the ship through uncharted waters. Such leadership is not acquired through a mere title or position, but from exhibiting certain traits. Like strands of thread woven into a tapestry, these combine to form a respected leader.

The following is a list of traits that make for respected leadership.

Willingness to perform tasks you ask of others

1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez climbing over a seawall while other Marines follow suit
Photo Credit: Unknown Marine / Naval History and Heritage Command / Naval Historical Center / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

A key trait of leadership is willing to get one’s hands dirty. By doing what they ask others to do, leaders embody commitment and hard work. They become not just a figurehead, but a fellow soldier in the trenches, inspiring trust and admiration among the men they command.

Alexander the Great often led his men into battle, sharing in their risks and hardships.

Treating others as you wish to be treated

Painting of George Washington crossing the ice-covered Delaware River
Photo Credit: Emanuel Leutze / The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Treating team members with kindness and respect sets a culture of dignity. Successful leaders embody the Golden Rule – “treat others how you want to be treated” – fostering an environment of mutual respect, understanding and collaboration.

George Washington was well-known for his kindness and respect toward his soldiers. He often visited the sick and wounded, leading by a strong moral example.

Being part of the team

Painting of Vercingetorix approaching Julius Caesar on horseback
Photo Credit: Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images

Respected leadership isn’t about wielding authority, but about being part of the team. Leaders step off their pedestal to be among their troops. They earn respect not by demanding it, but through their actions, commitment and understanding.

Julius Caesar was known for his close relationship with his troops, often dining and chatting with them. This earned him their respect and loyalty.

Cultivating and maintaining trust

Dwight D. Eisenhower eating a meal with two other US military officials
Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images

Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship. Leaders build it within their teams by demonstrating reliability, understanding and transparency, fostering an environment where open communication and mutual respect thrive.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower exemplified this trait, with his open communication and empathetic leadership style fostering a strong sense of trust among his troops during World War II.

Listening to ground-level feedback

Statue of Genghis Khan
Photo Credit: Fine Art Images / Heritage Images / Getty Images

The wisdom to listen more and speak less is a trait that sets respected leadership apart from the rest. These leaders lend an ear to the ground level, understanding their team’s needs and ideas, which makes them feel valued and promotes innovation.

Genghis Khan valued the input of his soldiers and often made strategic decisions based on their experiences and insights.

Consistency in good and/or bad situations

Winston Churchill holding up the "V" for Victory sign in front of a large crowd
Photo Credit: Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images

In the stormy seas of change, a respected leader is a constant. They maintain their composure and decision-making, displaying stability and predictability that brings comfort and trust to their team.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, with his resilience and consistency in the face of adversity during the Second World War, is legendary.

Being followed out of respect, not fear

Erwin Rommel and other German military personnel pushing a vehicle stuck in the sand
Photo Credit: ullstein bild / Getty Images

Leading through respect rather than fear, a respected leader motivates their team through the power of admiration, as opposed to the dread of repercussions.

Known as the “Desert Fox,” German Gen. Erwin Rommel was respected by both his own troops and his enemies for his tactical acumen, personal bravery and ability to inspire respect.

Taking responsibility and standing up for your team

Military portrait of Harry S. Truman
Photo Credit: Unknown Author / Truman Library / Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0

Respected leaders shoulder the weight of responsibility, standing up for their men in the face of adversity. They also take accountability for their actions, setting a precedent of honesty and integrity.

President Harry S. Truman popularized the phrase “the buck stops here,” which embodies his willingness to take responsibility for all decisions made under his command.


Richard Winters standing with his paratrooper gear
Photo Credit: US Army / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

Humility is a quiet, yet potent trait of respected leadership. Leaders share their victories, acknowledge their mistakes and understand that they’re part of a much larger whole.

A notable leader from the famous Easy Company, whose actions were depicted in the HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers (2001), was Maj. Richard Winters. He was respected for his willingness to share in his soldiers’ hardships, demonstrating trust and responsibility. Winters was once asked by his grandson, “Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?” He replied, “No… but I served in a company of heroes.”

Integrity is the name of the game

Chester W. Nimitz speaking with two US Navy personnel
Photo Credit: PhotoQuest / Getty Images

Integrity is the beacon that guides a respected leader’s decisions. They align their actions with their words, creating a transparent, honest and trustworthy environment.

More from us: The Most Impactful Military Vehicles of World War II

Adm. Chester W. Nimitz led the US Pacific Fleet during the Second World War with great success, and he was known for his strong moral character and integrity.

Damian Lucjan

Damian is a history geek that’s working for War History Online for almost a decade. He can talk about the history and its chain of events for hours and is 100% legit fun at parties. Aside of history, geography and etymology of all things are no less exciting for him! An avid video game player, meme distributor, and your comment section moderator all in one. Mythologies of all cultures are fascinating to him, Greek, Nordic, Slavic – you name it, and he’s in!

In his spare time, assuming he has some left, he gives it all to his family, enjoying morning walks, a good book, an exciting FPS, and a long nap…or a few. Definitely a cat person.