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What makes a good leader?

If you feel you should be leading people, if you are already a leader and want to be better, if you are selecting leaders for your company, or if you are training leaders then it is important to understand how to quantify and measure leadership qualities.

Every person will have their own answers to the question “what makes a good leader?” However, while most of us have experienced living and working with leaders; in our families, community, in sport and through our working lives; a deep understanding of the differences of a good leader to a bad one, and comparisons of differences between leaders and managers seems to be a tough question that requires a more in-depth answer.

To answer this we must take an axiological perspective to address the following areas:

  • What is a “good” leader?
  • What separates a good leader from a bad leader?
  • Is there an easy way of measuring a good leader?
  • What "good" leadership talents will you need for your organisation?
  • Can you reduce the risk of selecting and developing good leaders?

What is a "good" leader?

Why is this question so difficult to answer? Simply because each and every one of us has our own unique definition and concept for leadership and also because different types of leaders are required for different environments and circumstances.  A good example for this is arguments among friends on who will make the best leader for your country. The discourse often boils down to likes and dislikes.

What makes this more complicated is the lack of objective measurement of leadership qualities. These qualities are often referred to as talents, skills, strengths, competencies, abilities, emotional intelligence, values and so on. Let’s for the moment bundle all of these qualities under the word “talents” which is defined as a recurring path of thought, feelings or behaviours that can be productively applied.

Here are some examples of types of leadership talents in different environments.

Example One: Leadership talents required during one phase of a company’s or organisation’s growth may be very different to another phase in the same company.

Example Two: Any parent will tell you that parenting their children as pre-teens, teens and as young adults has required adaptability in their parenting style in each stage of the family’s growth.


What separates a good leader from a bad leader?

Are there indicators we can follow that point us towards leadership effectiveness?

The indicators that point towards leadership strength are many and varied, and there also exists in every leader natural talents that block leadership effectiveness. The separation of “good” from “bad” is not so much about a leader lacking good talents, but more specifically how each individual uses their unique combination and set of leadership talents and the influence of talent blockers. 

Each organisation is unique but the overall structure of leadership remains as a constant set of talents. What varies from leader to leader and organisation to organisation is the quality, quantity and hierarchy of those skill sets.

For example, think of leadership skill sets like the number of letters in the alphabet. There are 26 letters that make up the structure of the alphabet. However the number of words you can create and use depends upon your ability to create the words from the quantity and quality of your understanding of how to choose the 26 letters to form words. The words you can use are influenced by the needs of your organisation and how clear those needs are to you as a leader.

Let’s take this a step further by specifically understanding the leadership  “ABC’s” that are demanded by your organisation and how this will help you align your leadership talents towards the effectiveness of the organisation.

By clearly understanding the unique leadership talents of a person and comparing those talents to the unique leadership talents of the job, team or company you can accurately determine:

  • A leader who knows what to do
  • A leader who knows how to get things done
  • A leader who focuses on getting things done
  • A leader who works through others to get things done


Is there an easy way of measuring a good leader?

Through the science of Axiology these leadership skill sets are measurable. The science identifies 108 strengths that lead towards increasing leadership effectiveness and 108 blockers that interfere with leadership effectiveness. We use algorithms to relate the strengths and weaknesses and how they work together to amplify or weaken the ability of a leader to access their talents in specific environments.

Measuring the two; the leadership abilities of an individual and those required by an organisation, is not only possible but also highly accurate. 

Measuring the leadership structure common to all organisations

We call this structure “The Pathways to Leadership™”. There are nine defined paths, and all nine are scientifically calculated, objective, critical talents that can be used to measure how leaders think about these talents, which ones they value most, which ones they will pay attention to and the decisions they make about them.

The Nine Pathways are: 

  1. Trust
  2. Team Synergy
  3. Vision, Mission and Purpose
  4. Responsibility and Integrity
  5. Results
  6. Strategy and Discipline
  7. Innovation
  8. Preparation and Tactics
  9. Clear Goals and Standards

If you would like a more specific description of the pathways please send your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


What "good" leadership talents will you need for your organisation?

As you read this article keep in mind that this science has defined the leadership value structure for effective leadership – not the content. This means that each organisation (its key personnel, key clients, type of business or sport group or activity) and the stage of its growth will trigger the need for a specific leadership structure.

There are no right or wrong leadership structures or leaders; only companies or organisations that need and require a leadership structure that can be filled by a wide variety of individuals with unique leadership skill structures. The key is to align the skill structure of the organisation with the available leadership skill structures of the leaders in the organisation. The same applies when selecting leaders for the organisation from outside.


Can you reduce the risk of selecting and developing good leaders?

Do leaders just naturally emerge? Why make the effort to look for leadership skill structure?

The Leadership Screen and Nine Pathways™ towards leadership is a roadmap that comprehensively identifies unique leadership skill and structure so you can understand how to maximise those situations and conditions that interfere with your individual leadership talents and the results your company demands.

The truth is that leaders are all around you. They just cannot see you and you cannot see them (unless a crisis occurs and one emerges, for example in war or disaster). The reason you cannot see them is because they don’t know and you don’t know if they have the right leadership skill set for your organisation. For example, the one who shouts the loudest is not necessarily the right leader, and the one who is great with people is not necessarily the right leader either.

Is there only one definable way to measure leadership?  No, absolutely not!

While you could leave your leadership making decisions to hard work or even just plain luck, you can reduce the risk of living with the consequences. You can use the benefits of science and research to maximise your leadership selection and development, and determine the success of your organisation.

Zeteo is helping many organisations select and develop good leaders. Care to join them?

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