Monty’s List of 7 Necessary Leadership Qualities


Marion Doss on Flickr

Bernard Montgomery was born in 1887 and was one of nine children born to the Reverend Henry Montgomery and his wife Maud. He was initially raised in Northern Ireland and had a difficult childhood. He attended St. Paul’s academy in Britain and eventually went on to study at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He served in combat and was wounded in action during World War I. During those days he became known as a savvy planner and strategist.

But it was during the 2nd World War that “Monty” truly made his mark. He became a Lieutenant General in charge of the 8th Army in Egypt. He struck a great blow to German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel at the 2nd battle of El Alamein and was promoted to full General. In conjunction with the American General George Patton, Montgomery helped to launch the assault and advance on Italy. Montgomery eventually would also become the ground forces commander during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. His aid in counterattacking the German offensive at the Battle of the Bulge helped to repel the German thrust and began the final push to crush Hitler’s forces.

He was not without his critics and he certainly made some tactical mistakes. Yet Bernard Montgomery is one of Britain’s favored sons.

Taken from his Memoirs, here is a list of what Monty believed to be seven necessary qualities for a military leader. I would suggest they would stand well for any leader, and certainly spiritual leaders who realize they are ultimately in a spiritual battle.

1. The Leader Must Avoid Getting Swamped In Detail.

2. The Leader Must Not Be Petty.

3. The Leader Must Not Be Pompous. 

4. The Leader Must Know How To Select People To Fit The Task.

5. The Leader Must Trust Others To Do A Job Without The Leader’s Meddling.

6. The Leader Must Be Capable Of Clear Decisions.

7. The Leader Must Inspire Confidence. 

What are your thoughts on this list?

This list is also recorded in J. Oswald Sanders book entitled, Spiritual Leadership. This is a Christian classic for any leader.

14 replies
  1. Don Mercer
    Don Mercer says:

    It is a good list. Today I would advise that #2 and #3 should be left out as they are negatives. The list should consist of “The leader should be…..”
    On a grander scale, I guess I am getting overwhelmed with–make that tired of–lists. There are hundreds if not thousands. Good gravy I have two of them in my book, one for followers and one for leaders!!
    Maybe you should run a blog on why we are so fascinated with making lists, please list the reasons. 🙂

    • Gary Runn
      Gary Runn says:

      Great thought Don. There are myriads of lists. I find them helpful to the extent that they make me think in more concrete ways–rather than as imperatives that must be followed. Thanks too for your reflections on #2 and 3. Good thoughts.

  2. Joseph Okpanachi
    Joseph Okpanachi says:

    Thank you Gary, for calling attention to these lists. The first on the list reminds me of the late Peter Drucker, the founder of the modern management theory. Drucker said that what differentiates leaders from managers is that leaders are often concerned about doing the right thing, while managers are concerned about doing things right. Therefore, managers are detail-oriented, while leaders are vision-oriented. A leader can also be a manager. A leader who is not a manager must have a manager(s) on his team to deal with details. Although management is concerned with nuts and bolts, I believe that the two are complementary.

    Concerning number 4, Drucker once said that if the job to be done is that important, people can be trained to do it. In that case job design is very important, otherwise only angels can do some jobs.

    These lists are challenging, to say the least.

  3. Kerrie Price
    Kerrie Price says:

    It’s worthwhile list to keep in mind. I also like Joseph’s comments about leaders and managers. Of course when we start listing the qualities, characteristics and abilities of leaders, the list of expectations becomes rather overwhelming. How do Godless leaders manage?

  4. Joseph Okpanachi
    Joseph Okpanachi says:

    Kerrie, the question of how godless leaders manage is a good one. How godless leaders manage will depend on the congruence between their values and that of their organizations,’ and what specific situations call for in different contexts. Godly or godless, everyone has certain values they subscribe to. It is also assumed that how leaders manage depends on the goal of the organization–what it is that the organization is attempting to accomplish. Certain principles cut across the board.

  5. Bob Myers
    Bob Myers says:

    In regard to how the Godless cope, I find there is very little difference between the Godly and the Godless in regard to the sense of responsibility for others, for their love of others, or their sense of belonging. All of these spiritual attributes of being human, as followers or leaders, don’t really depend on whether we are aware of believing there is a God.

  6. Joyce Day
    Joyce Day says:

    I agree that we have a multitude of lists for reference. After reviewing this list I was mindful that a leader should be humble, empower others, delegate effectively, and a decision maker. This is consistent with servant leadership.

  7. wes busch
    wes busch says:

    To analyze and discuss leadership and its many skills, abilities and character traits, provides the adherents of Leadership to renew, refresh and repostion ourselves as we refocus, grow, emulate and formulate growth. I am reminded of Jesus walking and talking with His disciples and always contrasting the old with the new, but kut keeping the best od both.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *