Wayyyyy back in 2010, we compiled a fairly succinct list of powerful adjectives to describe successful leaders. Even now, 13 years later, it remains a very popular reference list for people around the world.

How was this list curated? Very simply, we prompted the members of a LinkedIn Human Resources group, asking responders to: “Define Leadership in 1 Word”.  Within 30 days, we received 1,130 comments! After analyzing each and every response, these 14 adjectives became the loudest attributes among the crowd – 14 single words (well, one is hyphenated) that have become the holistic definition of effective leadership.

  1. Influential
  2. Charismatic
  3. Visionary
  4. Servant
  5. Inspirational
  6. Humble
  7. Sacrificial
  8. Motivator
  9. Rebel
  10. Trustworthy
  11. Determined
  12. Passionate
  13. Creative
  14. Results-Oriented

These are all words that require action to be recognized and have more impact when put together. Influential people are most commonly viewed as leaders, but being charismatic and a visionary goes a long way towards gaining leadership momentum.

One of my favorite responses was “Rebel.”  Sometimes a leader has to position themselves outside of the norm and make sacrifices to achieve results! Following the pack may keep you in a job, but to really inspire others to act, you must be determined, creative and passionate! A leader will serve and motivate others through natural displays of humility. This is known as servant-leadership and is essential for gaining the trust of others!

1,130 responses, summarized in 14 adjectives, and combined for a holistic definition of leadership! What would you add to the list?