Profile of a Great Leader: Warren Buffett

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On July 30, 2012

If monetary success is the measure of a great leader, Warren Buffett has it in spades. He is one of the richest men in the world. That, however, is not the real yardstick by which his success is measured.  Here are three characteristics—or commitments—that make “The Oracle of Omaha” the kind of leader that he is.

1. Commitment to Simplicity of Life: Buffet may be one of the world’s wealthiest men, but he lives simply. He still lives in the same Omaha house he purchased in 1958 for a whopping $31,500! He has not allowed himself to be distracted by the trappings of success. His objective is the accumulation of wealth—not of possessions.

2. Commitment to Fundamental Value: Some people (even leaders) get caught up in “gaming the system.” These people are often motivated by greed and they are constantly looking for the next trick or shortcut that will bring them more profits. Buffett, however is interested in value. He invests in a business stock the same way he would invest directly in the business. His belief is that if the company will be profitable in the long run, the stock he buys will be as well.

3. Commitment to Giving Back: Buffet shocked the world with his stated intent to give back 99 percent of his wealth to charity through the Gates Foundation. Another way of looking at this is that Buffett’s objective of accumulating wealth is not the end game. He has something bigger in mind than simply success that’s defined by monetary reward. Not long ago, I wrote a post about the power of having a life purpose that is in sync with your business purpose. Buffett’s stated plan to give 99 percent of his wealth to charity is a great embodiment of that.

It’s easy to look at Warren Buffet—at least superficially—and come away with dollar signs in your eyes. But a closer look will reveal a man of commitment to simplicity, value, and giving. Those are great characteristics for a great leader.