By Drs. Sheila Boysen, Mike Cherry, and Lesley Page

A common series of questions asked in courses and seminars focused on leadership are, ‘Who are your leadership role models?’ and, ‘What are the effective leadership competences, behaviors and actions that they demonstrate?’ The responses, of course, vary as widely as the number of students in a course and participants in a seminar or workshop. A common response to these questions is, ‘I learned so much from that leader.’ This refrain is the catalyst for this article which attempts to make a connection between the qualities of a good teacher with the qualities of a good leader. The author may be so bold to suggest that great leaders truly are great teachers.

12 Virtues of a Good Teacher

The foundation for this review are the twelve virtues of a good teacher provided by Brother Agathon in 1785. This text was also an important tool in Catholic Colleges well into the 1930’s. Let’s begin with the twelve virtues.

Gravity (Seriousness)

Teachers earn respect by acting with dignity. They cultivate an assured and calming presence.


The classroom atmosphere should normally be harmonious and quiet, leading to more effective teaching. The teacher will not talk too much.


We are human. We make mistakes. We therefore never abuse our powers and instead make pupils feel respected.


Teachers use their common sense, understanding what they need to do and what they need to avoid when dealing with children.


The teacher’s knowledge and experience is applied with sound judgement. Wisdom may take time to acquire.


The teacher who can keep cool, composed, and even-tempered will be a better educator.

Reserve (Self-control)

De La Salle wants teachers to control themselves and show restraint in the face of annoyance.


Firmness and authority is tempered with kindness and courtesy such that the teacher is always approachable.


The Lasallian teacher is dedicated and committed whether it be in class preparation, correcting work, encouraging effort, supervising, or coaching.


The teacher is to be observant and discerning so as to promote values and prevent damage and danger. A caring teacher is vigilant.


The teacher, knowing each pupil is a child of God, will confide them to God’s protection while doing everything possible to prepare them for life. 


This puts service before personal convenience. De La Salle wants teachers to be unselfish in their giving, always available and approachable whether in or out of the classroom.

              To assist in your reflection on these virtues in your leadership, we encourage you to reread the virtues and where the word ‘teacher or educator’ is found, replace that with leader. Where you find the term ‘student, pupil or child’, replace that with employee or teammate. If you find ‘classroom’ replace that with workplace.

              To further assist, grab some paper and create three columns or rows. Label one of the rows Actions to Start. Another, Actions to Stop. Finally, the third, Actions to Continue. Jot some notes of how you would like to start, stop, and/or continue leveraging a virtue. If you want to really push your accountability for implementing the virtues, sign, and date your page!

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