YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Biz Quiz

What makes a good leader? (Hint: It has nothing to do with genetics)

June 08, 1998

Conventional wisdom says leaders are made, not born. But have you learned as much as you need to know? Do you feel uncomfortable with certain aspects of managing but don't know what the solution is?

If you've been losing sleep wondering how you're doing as a manager, here's some help. Take this quiz, which includes questions from three separate tests. Be honest, but don't beat yourself up. Who knows, maybe you're better than you thought and you can get some shut-eye.


1. Leadership has a universal definition.

2. Leadership ability can be measured.

3. Men are better leaders than women.

4. Leaders are always found in top job positions.

5. Leadership and management are not the same thing.

6. Leaders have charismatic personalities.

7. Leaders are always influential.

8. One style of leadership works for everyone.

9. Leaders are "born"; no amount of skill training can make a leader of someone without the right genetics.

10. The most important action of a leader is service.

11. Leaders are reactive. They wait for events to occur and then react quickly.

12. You can be the best leader possible at work and yet be a poor leader at home.

13. In order to be an effective teacher, the teacher should first model, then listen, then teach, and always in that order.

14. You can win an argument.


1. The hallmark of great "teams" is the:

a) similarity of the members

b) differences yet synergy of the members

c) way they creatively keep people's differences from interfering with friendships

d) single strong leader talented enough to gain the respect of all members

2. The most important step any team can take is to:

a) consider the values and principles of each member of the team

b) develop a mission statement

c) get everyone knowing and valuing the other people in the group

d) help each person know himself and herself

e) all of the above

3. How long should a team or company of people spend developing its mission statement?

a) one day

b) as long as it takes

c) four to five days

d) one week

4. Great leaders build courage in their teammates by demonstrating:

a) power

b) confidence

c) trust

d) wealth

5. An atmosphere of trust includes which of the following:

a) a mutually agreed-upon system of accountability

b) the accepted risk of failure of any member

c) a clear and understood statement of mission and vision

d) a competitive atmosphere where individual success benefits the entire team

e) all of the above

6. Great leaders fail. What makes them great leaders is their reaction to failure. Great leaders react to failure in which of the following ways?

a) push the responsibility for failure onto others

b) acknowledge the failure, consider their values and principles, then change

c) ask for help and guidance from everyone the failure affected

d) look for creative ways to succeed

e) b, c and d

7. Budding leaders are most surprised to learn that the element they need in order to lead with courage is:

a) knowledge

b) time

c) fear

d) money

8. You take the leadership position of a company. How long until you are truly the leader?

a) as soon as you sign the contract

b) as soon as you're voted into office

c) in three months

d) in 20 years, once you've established seniority in the corporation

e) none of the above

9. "Win-win or no deal" means?

a) if I don't get what I want, no deal

b) if you don't get what you want, no deal

c) unless there is a third option, there is no deal

d) it doesn't matter

e) a, b and c

10. How do great leaders spend most of their time?

a) working on the tasks of the organization

b) planning and working on relationships

c) putting out fires and in emergencies

d) in therapy

e) all of the above



1.False. Leadership definitions range from a set of learned skills to broad subjective descriptions of personal traits.

2.True. Numerous instruments exist to measure various aspects of leadership.

3.False. While differences exist in gender leadership styles, one style has not been proven better than another.

4.False. Leaders may be found at all levels of an organization.

5.True. Leaders and managers may share similar skills, but leaders possess more traits associated with providing vision for a group, the overriding view of where the organization is heading.

6.False. Since leadership is more learned behavior, the focus is more on effective communication than on charisma. However, charisma doesn't hurt.

7.True. Having influence is a leadership trait. One role of a leader is to take followers from one place to another, either conceptually or physically.

8.False. While there are a number of traits identified with leadership, how people manifest and effectively use these traits can take on numerous forms.

9. False

10. True

11. False

12. False

13. True

14. False


1. b)

2. e)

3. b)

4. c)

5. e)

6. e)

7. c)

8. e)

9. e)

10. b)


19 to 24 correct: Not only do you have a good idea of what a leader is, you might be one yourself.

13 to 18 correct: You've worked with people who have leadership skills and are busy honing your own.

Los Angeles Times Articles