Become a Better Leader by Mastering the 3 Categories of Leadership Effectiveness

Chapter 4: The Trilateral Leadership Ledger of Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward’s Launching a Leadership Revolution begins with an impactful statement from Hugo Grotius. Grotius was a Dutch lawyer, writer, theologian, and statesman of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century.

On the topic of self-government, Grotius had noted that leadership boiled down to the individual and made the following observation of men in positions of leadership:

“He knows not how to rule a Kingdom, that cannot manage a Province; nor can he wield a Province, that cannot order a City; nor he order a City, that knows not how to regulate a Village; nor he a Village, that cannot guide a Family; nor can that man Govern well a Family that knows not how to Govern himself.”

What this statement really boils down to is the fact that one cannot be an effective leader over others until one learns to lead over oneself.  Stop and think about that statement for a few moments.  When we think of leadership, we often think of a position of influence, a title, or a credential. However, true leadership potential lies in one’s ability for self-discipline.

moralcompassStop and think of the people in your life that have influence over you, for better or worse.  Put some thought into why you feel these people influence you.  Is it their personality? Do they make you feel good when you are around them, or inversely make you crave their hard to get attention?  Are you inspired by their abilities, drive, or work ethic? Or perhaps maybe you just feel that they are a good person and respect the position of their moral compass.

3 Categories of Leadership Effectiveness


Nobody lacking character will succeed in a meaningful way.  Some may possess several attributes worth following, but in order to maintain a position of influence for the long haul, one must possess strong character.

To many, Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president that the United States has ever known.  He was known for his humility, honesty (honest Abe), integrity and his values that he treated as absolute truths.

Stop once more and think about people in your life that have influence over you.  What is their character like?  Now stop and think about people that have little or no influence over you.  How is their character?

Now the fun part.  How do you stack up? Be honest with yourself! If the below bullet points were meta data tags (Did someone say #character?), would you be trending in the search results?

Well said Larry!

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Courage
  • Proper values based on absolute truths
  • Faith
  • Humble spirit
  • Patience with others
  • Disciple
  • Self-mastery

“ Self-control is absolutely vital to lasting success in any endeavor in life.”

– John MacArthur

While character is an obvious quality of any great leader, many will never become great on character alone.  Many presidents have fallen into the “do nothing” category.  Perhaps they were elected based upon their good character, but at the end of the day they didn’t have the right relationships, and ultimately were not able to produce results.


Simply stated, this is the ability to git-r-done (sorry, I had to).  Every leader will eventually have to have something to show for their work.  Stop and think of the many politicians who have been elected to office only to be ousted after a single term due to lack of results.  On the contrary, many people are promoted into leadership roles solely for their ability to get stuff done.  I think we have all worked for that person who seems to always get the job done on time, but ends running over a lot of people in the process.  While vitally important to any leadership role, influence will be short lived without good character and the ability to create and maintain quality relationships with others.

Stop once more and think about people in your life that have influence over you.  How much to they accomplish?  Now stop and think about people that have little or no influence over you.  What are their accomplishments?

  • Acceptance of responsibility
  • Work ethic
  • Availability
  • Willingness to invest time
  • Tenacity
  • Perseverance
  • Execution

Now assess yourself.  Are you the type that accomplishes your goals?  Do you even set goals?  Or do you find that you have big ambitions in life, but just seem to spin your wheels and go nowhere?


Last but not least, the art of creating and maintaining relationships is a cornerstone of leadership.  What good is a leader if he has no one to lead?  Relationships measure the ability to get along with and form lasting bonds with people which is a very valuable skill.  In fact, people who struggle in this skill tend to struggle in life over all.  We are social creatures, and therefore require good relationships with others.  Leaders must accomplish things through, with, and for people.

Stop once more and think about people in your life that have influence over you.  How are their relationships?  Now stop and think about people that have little or no influence over you.  How many of the below attributes do they possess?

  • Accepting People
  • Approving people
  • Appreciating people
  • Seeing the good in people
  • Encouraging people
  • Caring for and about people
  • Putting others first
  • Seeking win-win arrangements
  • Helping people accomplish tasks
  • Living the “Golden Rule”

Self-assessment time.  Taking a look over the above attributes, how do you stack up?  Does the company you keep move you forward or away from your goals?  How do you think others view you in the same regard?

Just as cold can be identified as the absence of heat, leadership can be attributed as the absence of influence.  Before deciding which traits I find are positive in an individual, I like to stop and think about negative traits, or the absence of traits.  On the topic of Character, Tasks, and Relationships. I can think of several people I know personally that have a fair amount of issues in their lifes, and each of them are cold in one or more of these areas.

 Personal Assessment: Using the Trilateral Leadership Ledger


In the previous section, I challenged you to assess yourself in the three core leadership areas of Character, Tasks, and Relationships.  If you are like me, it is easy to see your strengths and weakness in these categories.  But how do they all add up to create overall leadership ability?

At the beginning of this article, I briefly mentioned Chapter 4: The Trilateral Leadership Ledger of the book, Launching a Leadership Revolution.  Authors Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward have created a self-assessment test along with a viable method to score one’s leadership ability.

The Trilateral Leadership Ledger measures the 3 attributes into an overall leadership ability score by weighting out each variable.  Assume Mister A has a character score of 4, tasks score of 1, and a relationships score of 3.  This would result in a score of 12 (4 x 1 x 3 = 12).

Next we compare Mister B with the following scores: character score of 4, tasks score of 2, and a relationship score of 4.  This would result in a score of 32 (4 x 2 x 4).  As you can see, overall leadership ability is measured at 20 points higher, simply by having a 1 point difference in two categories (tasks & relationships).

Finally we examine Mister C with the following scores: character 0, tasks 8, relationships 7.  As we can see, Mister C is a hard driving guy who apparently knows a lot of people.  Mister C came in with a leadership score of 0 (0 x 8 x 7).  Unfortunately, Mister C has no character and therefore will have a difficult time maintaining any significant influence for the long haul.

Leadership Score Outcomes:

50 – 100 points: Capable of leading smaller groups of people. Possesses the following attributes:

  • A character that is worth following
  • Solid work ethic
  • Ability to get along with most people

200 – 300 points: Capable of leading large groups of people. Possesses the following attributes:

  • Impeccable character
  • Work ethic that inspires
  • Ability to create vision that people respond to.

300 points and above: Sought after by Corporations for leadership positions.

  • Known for large scale influence
  • Very few ever attain this level of leadership
  • Available to all who seek it

Self-Deception: The Leadership Development Stumbling Block

The Trilateral Leadership Ledger is a tool to begin a sometimes painful process.  As stated in the beginning of this article, leadership starts with ruling oneself, and the mind is like the body in the sense that it must be broken down in order to grow.  If a body builder does not tear down his muscles on a regular basis, he becomes weak.  Just as such, the leader does not grow unless he or she is constantly breaking down his or her thought process in order to grow in perspective and understanding of self and others.

We tend to focus on the faults of others while admiring our own strengths.  It takes a lot of character to look within and be honest with ourselves to focus on our blind spots.  True leadership is demonstrated when the individual has learned to look inward and focus on personal weaknesses while identifying and building the strengths of other people.

Personal Growth: The Leadership Development Building Block

Self-deception is the common stumbling block in leadership because it is the easy route.  So many choose to take the path of least resistance because it grants the quickest result.  The road less traveled is the path of personal development.  This is the road where the individual learns to begin the process of growing in areas of character, tasks, and relationships.

Benjamin Franklin is famous for many reasons, but in this connotation he is famous for his resolutions.  At the end of Chapter 4: The Trilateral Leadership Ledger, the authors discuss Benjamin Franklin’s 13 resolutions that he applied to his life after a personal friend and informer explained everybody Franklin knew considered him a genius, but nobody could stand his presence!  In other words, Franklin had poor relationships.  Franklin’s 13 virtues are as follows:

  • Temperance (Character)
  • Silence (Character, Relationships)
  • Order (Tasks)
  • Resolution (Tasks)
  • Frugality (Character, Tasks)
  • Industry (Tasks)
  • Sincerity (Character, Relationships)
  • Justice (Character, Relationships)
  • Moderation (Character)
  • Cleanliness (Character, Tasks)
  • Tranquility (Character)
  • Chastity (Character)
  • Humility (Character, Relationships)

Benjamin Franklin was clearly a man who accomplished much in his life, and it is not hard to see why.  He practiced a life of personal growth, and accomplished many great things in his life as a result.

I hope you find value in this article.  Whether you are a leader in your job, home, church or community, Launching a Leadership Revolution should be your handbook.  Chapter 4: The Trilateral Leadership Ledger just happens to be my one of my favorites as it provides a practical way to assess yourself, a critical first step to become a better leader.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I look forward to hearing your comments!

Leadership Store

 Launching a Leadership Revolution can be found in the following featured items from the leadership store, or as a single order item.
Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Resolutions are covered in greater detail in Orrin Woodward’s book Resolved: 13 Resolutions for Life:



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