4 qualities of responsible leaders

Emerging leaders who achieve sustained success have a few essential qualities that characterize their leadership. Particularly during a time of crisis, responsible leadership will rely on these qualities to guide them on the road to achieving their goals.

To help see the necessary qualities of a responsible leader, we can turn to the 4-V model, developed by Bill Grace, one of the founders of the Center for Ethical Leadership. The four V’s are Values, Vision, Voice, and Virtue. The model provides a framework that matches the internal factors (beliefs and values) with external beliefs (behaviors, actions) serving the common good. Let’s take a deeper look at how these four qualities reflect a responsible leader.


Values are at the top of the model, as these are the core elements that guide all your actions. They help you reach difficult decisions in your life and help you understand what is important. Being a responsible leader requires the courage to identify your values and integrate them into your words and actions.


Vision in this model means the ability of a leader to build action toward a goal that is defined by values. Having a vision and goal for yourself as a leader, and the organization you are leading, is essential to success. Mapping out your goals and vision will help you better structure how you are going to act on your values.


Mary Gentile, Ph.D., the author of Giving Voice to Values and creator of the business approach with the same name, spoke with the YLAI Network about acting on your values. She explains that expressing your values brings your articulated vision to others and allows them to proactively contribute. Responsible leaders give a model and motivation to others to act and use their voice to share their vision.


Virtue is a quality that directs us toward good. The 4-V model has virtue in the center because it complements all of the other qualities and is the glue that holds them together.

To be a responsible leader, you need to give yourself space to reflect on your values, your beliefs, and your vision, and allow those to guide your behaviors and your actions. Responsible leaders who lead with integrity built upon these four qualities will have stronger and more motivated teams, and find long-term success in their efforts.

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