What are the qualities of great leadership?

Skill: Listening Theme: Leadership
Level: Intermediate/Upper Intermediate (B1-C1)

The following short video takes a fun look at some qualities of good leadership that you may not have thought of.


In your opinion, what are the essential qualities of a good leader?  Make a list, then try and put the qualities in order from the most important to the least important.

Write your list of qualities in the comments field below.


There are hundreds of different « movements » around the world that have had outstanding leaders.  Click on this link for a list of movements.  Choose three that you would like to know more about, and look for information to answer the following questions:

  • Who were the key leaders of this movement?
  • In what ways did they demonstrate effective leadership? (you may not be able to find this information for every movement on the list)


Derek Sivers is best known as the founder of CD Baby. A professional musician since 1987, he started CD Baby by accident in 1998 when he was selling his own CD on his website, and friends asked if he could sell theirs, too. CD Baby was the largest seller of independent music on the web, with over $100M in sales for over 150,000 musician clients.  In the video below, entitled How to start a movement, he mentions some qualities of leadership that you may not have thought of.  According to Sivers, what are the principles behind starting a movement?

Note that this video can also be viewed at Ted.com, where there are subtitles and a transcript available.


The video contains the following idioms:

he needs the guts (courage and fortitude; nerve; determination; stamina)

lone nut (an eccentric person)

tipping point (the crisis stage in a process, when a significant change takes place)

be part of the in-crowd (a group  of people sharing similar interests and attitudes, producing feelings of solidarity, community, and exclusivity)

recap (short for ‘recapitulate’)

over-glorified (honoured with praise or admiration, in an exaggerrated way)

gain momentum (the force that keeps something moving or developing after it has started)

It also contains the following phrasal verbs:

stand out, stick with, join in

Test: how would you translate these idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs into your language?.


1. Sivers says:

The first follower is an underestimated form of leadership in itself.

Do you agree?  Why?  Can you think of any other examples?

2. Do you think that leadership is over-glorified?  Why?

3. Would you revise any of the qualities of leadership that you thought of before watching the video?

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