What Makes A Good Leader Great

Feb 03, 2017 1 Min Read
leading others on a mountain

There are ways to deduce if an individual is a great leader or not. Here at Leaderonomics, we crafted a model that can define great leadership. Through extensive research and interviews with numerous global leaders, we discovered that a great leader is one who has mastered four key areas.

  • Personal mastery is about being incredibly self-aware and knowing how to leverage on one’s strengths and minimise or work on weak spots.
  • Business Mastery is the ability to spot out opportunities and connect the dots, and to see the bigger picture.
  • Functional mastery is about having depth and credibility in specified areas, something which can only be developed with time and effort.
  • Leadership mastery is about having particular traits and applying decision-making skills into its usage.


Some of the greatest leaders in the world are seen as effective leaders because of their mastery in the four areas mentioned above. Take Nelson Mandela as an example.


Business mastery

Mandela was a leader who could see the bigger picture and would strategise his plans accordingly. From his prison cell, Mandela observed that numerous countries stopped doing business with South Africa due to the injustice inflicted by the African government. He knew the effects of dictatorship –one that Robert Mugabe practiced which resulted in the fall of Zimbabwe – would tear South Africa apart, if he didn’t do anything to remedy the situation. To him, the practice of racial harmony and forgiveness is essential for a democratic South Africa, and all his strategies were built around this belief.


Personal mastery

Mandela’s patience and ability to forgive, was something that people valued very highly and so he leveraged on those to gain support from his people. This was evident when he came out of jail in 1990 and did not show any sense of resentment towards the past. With the future of South Africa in his heart and mind, he put aside the bitterness and worked with the government to democratise the nation.

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Leadership mastery

Mandela was a visionary. He could make decisions – that he may not initially be happy with – because he could see the value of that decision in the long run. An example was when South Africa was reinstated into the Olympics in 1992. Because there were only eight blacks on the team, Mandela initially wasn’t keen of the idea, but he knew it was a good start for his people in the sports arena.


Functional mastery

As a lawyer, Mandela was well-versed with methods to bring about change through policies and regulations, namely in areas concerning peace, justice and racial harmony. For instance, he created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to unearth any human rights violations that may have taken place during the apartheid. His other policies helped to connect some two million citizens to electricity and provide access to education to over 1.5 million children.


In a nutshell

While many of us know and remember Mandela as the man responsible for South Africa’s democracy, racial unity and freedom, we figured it was his mastery of the four areas – personal, business, leadership, functional – that made him a “great statesman”.

If we were to dissect the story behind each leaders mentioned in our main article by Sandy Clarke, we may just discover that each were masters of the four areas, and that is why the world remembers them as great leaders until this day.


Prethiba is a writer and assistant editor with Leaderonomics. She is passionate about learning and development as she wants to become better with each passing day. She believes that our lives are solely written by us, and thus the power to change for the better lies within us. Share your thoughts about our articles at editor@leaderonomics.com

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Prethiba is passionate about impacting people through the written word. She believes that our lives are solely written by us, and thus the power to change for the better lies with us.

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