True leadership is 10% skills, 90% character. Lead with your heart.

A Book Review – The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow

By Mark Miller

The heart of leadership is a matter of the heart.
The Heart of Leadership. Lead with your heart.

What is this book about?

“The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow” by Mark Miller is a business fable that teaches you the true meaning of leadership. Mark pointed out that leadership is not merely about skills, but more importantly, it is about the characters one possesses that impact people around you in a positive way.

The story started with a troubled Blake, an ambitious young man, who felt frustrated by not getting a promotion that he longed for. His senior told Blake that “leaders are different” and advised Blake to find out what was missing in him by talking to other leaders. As confused as you can imagine, Blake reached out to his trusted mentor Debbie for leadership advice.

Debbie introduced Blake to five different leaders who excel in different fields. Through Blake’s meetings with these 5 new mentors, we learn about the 5 core characteristics that a great leader should possess which forms the “Heart” of leadership.

Read on to learn about the 5 core leadership traits in the below section.

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What are the 5 core leadership traits?

Towards the end of the book, Mark sets out these 5 core leadership characteristics in a clever way that we can easily memorize and make relevant applications in our daily lives. By breaking the word “HEART” into 5 separate letters and remembering each letter as the first letter to start the description, you will have the following.

Hunger for Wisdom

Expect the Best

Accept Responsibility

Respond with Courage

Think Others First

1. Hunger for Wisdom

Many people understand that knowledge is power, but lack the motivation to take action and acquire them proactively. This separates true leaders from the crowd.  

Great leaders are open-minded and receptive to new ideas. They constantly hunt for wisdoms, treat learning seriously and consider continual growth as a lifelong goal.

Everyone would want to follow a wise mentor but never the other way round.

“You need to think of your quest for wisdom as a hunger that will never be satisfied.”

No Substitute for Wisdom

2. Expect the Best

Great leaders believe the best about others and also themselves.

Outstanding leaders are optimists. They form good visions for their lives and help shape a better future for people around to look up to and follow.

Expecting the best is an attitude that great leaders adopt. Every one of us will fail in life, but great leaders do not focus their attention on failures; they focus on successes and would positively embrace the future ahead.

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3. Accept Responsibility

“The best leaders don’t blame others. They own their actions and their outcomes.”

Look in the Mirror

Many become great leaders because of their attitude towards accountability. Good leaders take ownership of their own responsibilities and do not delegate them to others easily.

While taking credits during successful times are sweet, great leaders especially shine because they will assume responsibilities at times of failure or difficulties.

Great leaders step up for their team at all times of need, and do not finger point at others to lessen his burden of responsibilities.

4. Respond with Courage

Excellent leaders are courageous. They treat responding with courage a lifelong pursuit.

Great leaders are not afraid to make bold decisions and initiate actions which may potentially upset other parties. This stems from the firm belief by leaders that they are working towards a better vision for the situations and making the world a better place.

Many followers count on leaders to make bold moves and bring changes to the circumstances.

To respond with courage is a leadership trait which needed repeated practices.

5. Think Others First

Great leaders are servant leaders who place emphasis on others.

True leaders do not focus on their own successes, instead, they constantly work towards helping others succeed. Leaders work for their own team and are trusted by their followers.

When followers understand their leaders’ ultimate goals were to respect and serve them selflessly, followers naturally will want to serve them back and the organizations they are leading.

To be a successful leader, you will need to practice to become a great listener in order to be able to “step into the shoes of others”.    


Remember that we may not always be leaders in a certain field, but we must all be leaders by some way in life, be it leading your family, your relationship, your sports team, etc.

Last but not least, no one is born naturally as a leader. Leadership skill is a trait that can be learnt and nurtured by all of us, through our intentional practices and repeated applications. The heart of leadership is ultimately, a matter of the heart.

Further read the book…

“The Heart of Leadership” is an inspiring book and I encourage people who wanted to learn about leadership to read it.

The leadership advice Mark shared not only can be applied in our daily work, but also can be associated to our personal life.

If you aspire to learn and become a great leader who people want to follow, this book would be a must-read for you.

The book itself is not a long one (just slightly more than 120 page). Despite being first published back in 2013, the wisdom within it does not get old and still remained very relevant to our modern-day life. Get a copy to read more below!

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