21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

  • Date: April 11, 2021 - June 11, 2021
  • Format: online
Everything rises and falls on leadership. The challenge is that leadership develops from the inside out. If you can become the leader you ought to be on the inside, you will be able to become the leader you want to be on the outside. Learn more about yourself and make a positive change in your leadership direction by enrolling in this self-directed 21-session study.

University of Missouri Extension Logo 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader


Educator Information

Burton profile .jpg

David Burton

David is a county and community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension. He is headquartered in Springfield, Mo.

With over 40 years of leadership experience, Burton enjoys helping others grow as a leader.

Class members can contact him by email at [email protected] or by calling the office at (417) 881-8909.Your email address is the default for communication, so check it regularly.

Program Description

This course is self-paced and individuals can expect to invest about 1 hour per quality (15 minutes to read the chapter, 30 minute video and 15 minutes or less in the online discussion. Instructors from across the state give their perspective on each of these important qualities. Leadership is an art form. To become a good leader, you have to begin working on improving yourself. This study will bring valuable lessons to push you in the right direction toward the fulfillment of your leadership roles. Leadership can be learned and it can be developed but a person must invest in themselves. This program is a great investment in your leadership skills. This class is really met to be absorbed over all weeks, which is why it is divided in to 21 sessions. Few people in the last half century have changed as many lives as John Maxwell. His book can make a positive change in a person’s leadership direction if they will give it at least 21 days. Maxwell notes in his book that everything rises and falls on leadership. The challenge is that leadership develops from the inside out. If you can become the leader you ought to be on the inside, you will be able to become the leader you want to be on the outside.

Program Organization, Structure, and Resources

Each of the 21 chapters in the book introduces a leadership quality. That topic then corresponds to a session in our study. Each video (included in your Canvas module) then provides a personalized perspective on the topic with lessons on how to grow that quality. Online discussions help you to think further about the topic and to digest the material. Take your time to deal with each quality and to reflect on how you can further develop that quality. We highly recommend that you purchase or borrow from the library a copy of John C. Maxwell's book, "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader." This classic book is available at most libraries, from Amazon, Audible and Abebooks.com among others. An audio of the book is even available on YouTube.com. Individuals can participate without the book however reading along helps to reinforce the lessons and aids in discussion. There is also a workbook that goes with Maxwell's book that some students might wish to use.

Program Objectives

  • Each learner in this class will discover the top 21 qualities of a leader.
  • Each learner will discover these qualities and be able to reflect on how that quality apples to their own skills, personality and work.
  • By the end of this program, you will be able to articulate several of the most important qualities for a leader and how that quality can be improved.

Learning Activities

This class leads to self-assessment and honest self-assessment leads to important changes and personal discoveries. The class is interactive with the discussion boards.

Assessment Plan

 Assessments will include pre- and post-surveys and discussion boards. Those completing the form will receive a printed certificate of completion. At the end of the program, students will have opportunity for anonymous program feedback/evaluation. We will not assess grades in this course by instructors are available and happy to visit with students that have further questions.


If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this program, or if disability-related accommodations are necessary, please notify your instructor.


The instructional team for this class includes the following MU Extension specialists:

  • Johanna Reed Adams, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • David Burton, Headquartered in Springfield, Mo,
  • Jackie Spainhower, headquartered in Bethany, Mo.
  • Dr. Pam Duitsman, headquartered in Ozark, Mo,
  • Mistti Ritter, headquartered in Hillsboro, Mo.,
  • Patricia Barrett, headquartered in Tuscumbia, Mo.,
  • Dr. Amy Patillo, headquartered in Springfield, Mo.
  • Sarah Hultine Massengale, headquartered in Salem, Mo


We value the voice of every student in this course. Our diversity as a group—in race, gender, sex, religion, language, ability, veteran status, place of origin—is an asset to our learning experience.  As a result, we will design inclusive lessons and assignments that provide you with the opportunity to speak and be heard, explore your own understanding, and encounter each other.


For a successful online course experience, clear, thoughtful communication is essential. Discussion forums and course communications are important venues for exchanging ideas and promoting learning. Your instructor and fellow participants wish to foster a safe online learning environment. All opinions and experiences, no matter how different or controversial they may be perceived, must be respected in the tolerant spirit of academic discourse. Constructive criticism and questions are encouraged; however, you will be expected to remain professional and courteous in all of your posts. You are encouraged to comment, question or critique an idea, but you are not to attack an individual.

Our differences, some of which are outlined in the University of Missouri's nondiscrimination statement, will add richness to this learning experience. Please consider that sarcasm and humor can be misconstrued in online interactions and generate unintended disruptions. Working as a community of learners, we can build a polite and respectful course atmosphere. As your instructor, I  reserve the right to delete any forum posts or blog entries I deem to be inappropriate for the course.

 If you are emailing your instructor or other students, provide some context for your email by creating a subject line that states the course and topic.  Be brief, clear and to the point.  If communicating a lot of information, use bullets for order and clarity.

(Adapted  with permission from [email protected]'s Online Teaching Foundations)

Technical Requirements

Required: Here in the syllabus as well as in an introductory email, provide learners with detailed, clearly worded information about the technologies they will need throughout the course. These technologies could include hardware, software, subscriptions, plug-ins and the like.  Link to download and help resources.  Provide appropriate contact information for additional assistance. 

Learners will also need some technical skills, which might include

  • Using the learning management system
  • Sending and receiving an email with attachments
  • Creating and submitting files in commonly used word processing formats
  • Copying and pasting
  • Downloading and installing software
  • Using spreadsheet programs
  • Using presentation and graphics programs

See our Getting Started with Canvas page for short tutorial videos to provide an overview of Canvas.  When accessing your Canvas course from your mobile device, DO NOT use the Canvas Student App.

Access your course from your MU Extension account. For the best user experience, we recommend using  Google Chrome as your browser (Safari for Macintosh).

If you don't have Google Chrome installed on your computer, you can download the latest version.

If you have questions or need additional help, please please email   Customer Support.

You can find more information on the technical requirements on the Canvas website.

To complete this course, you will at least need to have all of the following:

  • A keyboard/text input (external or built-in)
  • Headphones or speakers (external or built-in)
  • A computer, laptop, and/or mobile device
  • A stable Internet connection
  • A modern web browser
  • Microsoft Office installed, for opening and manipulating downloaded Word documents
  • A PDF viewer, installed (Adobe Reader or similar)
  • Access to Canvas

Note: You may need to download and install other technologies, sign up for an account for online services, or use additional online collaboration tools, as appropriate, dependent on decisions made within your peer group and decisions you make later in the course regarding exploration of learning technologies. The list provided here simply represents the basic, minimum technology requirements for all learners in the course.

To excel in this course, you should have these incoming skills:

  • The ability to download, edit, and save Word documents.
  • The ability to effectively use peripheral computer components, including speakers, webcams, and microphones.
  • The ability to download and install software on your personal computer and/or install apps on your mobile devices.
  • The ability to perform a variety of functions within Canvas, including but not limited to:
    • uploading and submitting Word documents;
    • accessing the Calendar tool;
    • updating your Account information (e.g. profile/bio, notification preferences, contact information); and
    • using the Inbox feature to communicate with your instructor by email within the LMS.

 When accessing your Canvas course from your mobile device, DO NOT  use the Canvas Student App.

For the best user experience, we recommend using  Google Chrome  as your browser (Safari for Macintosh).

If you don't have Google Chrome installed on your computer, you can  download  (Links to an external site.)  the latest version.

If you have questions or need additional help, please please email   Customer Support.

You can find more information on the technical requirements on the  Canvas website  (Links to an external site.) .

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