Developing Leadership Character

Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts, and Jeffrey Gandz

In Developing Leadership Character, the authors outline the eleven dimensions of leadership character. Each dimension consists of several elements which describe more elementary qualities of each dimension.

The dimensions and elements are:

  1. Drive (passionate, vigorous, results-oriented, demonstrates initiative, strives for excellence)
  2. Collaboration (cooperative, collegial, open-minded, flexible, interconnected)
  3. Humanity (considerate, empathetic, compassionate, magnamonius, forgiving)
  4. Humility (self-aware, modest,  reflective, curious, continuous learner, respectful, grateful, vulnerable)
  5. Integrity (authentic, candid, transparent, principled consistent)
  6. Temperance (patient, calm, composed, self-controlled, prudent)
  7. Justice (fair, equitable, proportionate, even-handed, socially responsible)
  8. Accountability (takes ownership, accepts consequences, conscientious, responsible)
  9. Courage (brave, determined, tenacious, resilient, confident)
  10. Transcendence (appreciative, inspired, purposive, future-oriented, optimistic, creative)
  11. Judgment (situationally aware, cognitively complex, analytical, decisive, critical thinker, intuitive, insightful, pragmatic, adaptable)

A visual model is provided that shows the relationship of each dimension to one another. The dimension of Judgment is the centre of the model, with the other dimensions surrounding it. Bi-directional arrows on the model indicate that Judgment interacts with each individual element in leadership character.

Model of the 11 dimensions of leadership character (
11 dimensions of leadership character (

The bulk of the book describes each individual dimension and the sub-elements that compose it. Examples of leaders in government, industry, and academia are provided to demonstrate each dimension and element in action. The book also describes interrelationships between dimensions, and impacts of leadership dimensions in absence of others.

After describing each dimension, a several self-assessment questions are provided that the can be used to evaluate one’s competence in each dimension. Those that want to develop the dimension further can use the included references and links to other material, such as books, articles, and online videos, to better understand and improve their performance within the dimension.

Key Takeaways

The model of leadership character and the details of leadership dimensions are useful in several manners:

Evaluating Qualities of a Leader

During individual goal-setting or performance reviews, the dimensions in the book can be used as a framework for evaluating developmental opportunities for team members. Assigning projects and participating in educational courses with clear links to specific dimensions are some methods available for team members to improve in those areas.

Forming a Balanced Leadership Group

It is unlikely that all members of a leadership group will excel at every dimension. Each individual will demonstrate leadership aptitude in different domains. Use this book to assess dimensions that are underrepresented and build a balanced leadership team by bringing on new leaders, or developing current leaders, in those attributes

Identifying Crucial Dimensions Within the Organization

Based on strategic plan for the organization or the business environment, some leadership dimensions have higher relevance and importance. These are the dimensions that every member of the organization must be competent in for the group to succeed. Demonstrating common leadership dimensions at the senior level of the organization sets the tone of the organization. Junior members looking up to their leaders start emulating that behaviour, embedding it within each action taken.

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