What makes leaders great?

It all begins with character, which is borne out the values that one develops over the years, the core rules that govern how we act. Kouzes and Posner surveyed people and asked what are the characteristics of admired leaders the number one answer between 2007 was honesty, followed by forward looking.



Honesty can be summed up as “worthy of someone’s trust” ; all of us want to work with people who understand the deception in wrong and want to win by honest means, even when this makes winning more difficult.

Honesty is strongly linked to values and ethics. This is why it is so important that leaders spend time learning about their core values. Once you have identified what you believe to be core values, test them with these questions form Jim Collins; for a value to survive the test you must be able to answer “YES” to every question.

take the core values test

  • If you were to start a new organization, would you build it around this core value regardless of the industry?
  • Would you want your organization to continue to stand for this core value 100 years into the future, no matter what changes occur in the outside world?
  • Would you want your organization to hold this core value, even if at some point in time it became a competitive disadvantage—even if in some instances the environment penalized the organization for living this core value?
  • Do you believe that those who do not share this core value—those who breach it consistently—simply do not belong in your organization?
  • Would you personally continue to hold this core value even if you were not rewarded for holding it?
  • Would you change jobs before giving up this core value?
  • If you awoke tomorrow with more than enough money to retire comfortably for the rest of your life, would you continue to apply this core value to your productive activities?


We simply don’t trust people who can’t or won’t disclose a clear set of values.




Over 70% of people feel that a great leaders are those among us that have a clear sense of direction.  This links directly to the competence of envisioning the future that many successful leaders talk about when asked about their personal success.

We know that people want to work for a purpose and that becoming engaged with a shared vision moves a job from being inane to something full-filling.  Our motivation is fueled by our sense that what we do matters.

A worthwhile test for your vision statement is check if it has all of these attributes:

take the core vision test

  • Brevity – 11-22 words
  • Clarity – the degree to which the statement sets our clear direction
  • Abstractedness – the degree to which the vision is not a one time goal that can be met 
  • Challenge – does it set out a challenge that will motivated others to strive to do their best
  • Future – does it describe a long term perspective for the organization
  • Stability – is it likely to remain unchanged by the market or technology
  • Desirability – will it generate goals that will directly benefit the team


Test your values and your vision to ensure that you are on the right track to becoming a


About Tim Taylor

Expert in leadership development, excellent leadership capabilities, strategic thinker, and ability for developing high potential managers. An effective Leader of Global Learning and Development projects. Partners effectively with senior executives in delivering Leadership programs and processes that support organizational strategies and deliver a positive return on investment. Led international teams of Organization Development professionals since 1993, working on projects for Coca-Cola, Smurfit corporation, Dell, Prudential, Thomson Reuters, CAT, & many other medium sized organisations.

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