Napoleon Hill: The 11 Major Attributes of Leadership


By Jas Singh

One of my favourite books is Napoleon Hill’s classic “Think and Grow Rich”. Despite, it’s title the book has nothing to do with money. It’s all to do with the science of achievement – whether you want to be a successful entrepreneur or the best parent you can possibly be – what exactly do you need to do?

Hill studied the lives of over 25,000 people who were deemed a “success” over 25 years. During this time he interviewed and shadowed some of the greatest people of his generation. After decades of analysis, Hill discovered that all people who have sustained outstanding success act and think in certain ways.

A key section in his book is the section on leadership. According to Hill, there are 11 major attributes to leadership. These are summarized below:

1) Unwavering Courage

Unwavering courage means full belief in oneself and one’s occupation. No intelligent follower will follow a leader who lacks self-confidence and courage.

2) Self-Control

Put simply, if you cannot control yourself then you can never control others. Self-control is a must in leadership.

3) A Keen Sense Of Justice

Essential for leadership in any calling. Otherwise you will lose the respect of your followers.

4) Definiteness of Decision

If you do not make strong decisions then you are unsure – people do not follow one who is unsure.

5) Definiteness of Plans

You must plan your work and work your plan. Otherwise you are moving by guesswork and will eventually fail.

6) The Habit of Doing More Than Paid For

Hill found that all leaders who succeed in an outstanding way are always willing to do more than they require from their followers.

7) A Pleasing Personality

This is needed to get the respect of followers (whether these be customers, workers or shareholders) and is essential.

8) Sympathy and Understanding

A successful leader must be in sympathy with his or her followers and understand their problems.

9) Mastery of Detail

All great leaders know every single detail of their position to the most minute detail. They master whatever is expected of them.

10) Willingness to Assume Full Responsibility

A successful leader must be willing to be responsible for the mistakes and shortcomings of their followers. If a follower has failed he must consider that he or she has failed and do whatever it takes to put it right.

11) Co-operation

This is essential. As well as co-operating with others a successful leader must also induce his/her followers to co-operate. Leadership calls for power and power is only available through the help of others which requires co-operation.


Napoleon Hill’s work is timeless. Rather than continuously emphasizing experience, qualifications and achievements often the intangible skills – the skills we cannot see – are far more important.

I wonder how many of the leaders today would meet the above requirements.

How will you hire your next leader?

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