The Australian Leadership Index is the largest ever ongoing research study of leadership in Australia, by Swinburne University.



Ethical misconduct and irresponsible leadership have resulted in increasing distrust and cynicism towards Australian institutions. Too often, our leaders have prioritised a narrow group of interests ahead of serving the public interest. There is a growing need for leadership that serves the greater good.


Supported by the Graham Foundation and Swinburne University of Technology, the Australian Leadership Index (ALI) is the largest ever ongoing research study of leadership in Australia. We measure and track how Australians view leadership for the greater good across various sectors and institutions.


By reporting our results publicly, we aim to encourage a national conversation about leadership. Keeping leadership in the spotlight allows a better understanding of how institutions are performing, helps them to improve their leadership, and ensures long term benefits for Australians.


Leadership for the greater good is different to traditional definitions of leadership, often seen in management theory.

The greater good is a complex concept with many competing scholarly perspectives (e.g., Hayek, 1960; Forsyth & Hoyt, 2011; Rawls, 1971; Sluga, 2014). This is because the idea of what is the right, fair or just thing to do for the greater good differs across pluralistic and complex societies (Graham et al, 2013; Cronin & Genovese, 2012). 

As a result, the notion of engaging in leadership for the greater good takes many forms, varying across contexts and time periods. Individuals and groups with different values, political orientations, worldviews and experience can differ markedly and reasonably in their appraisal of the greater good and leadership in its service (e.g., Mayer, 2018; Reich, 2018; Sandel, 2020).

Through our research, we have shown that leadership for the greater good occurs when leaders create social, environmental, and economic value for their stakeholders and society-at-large in a way that is transparent, accountable, and ethical (Wilson, 2016). Understood in this way, leadership for the greater good is reflected in the type of value leaders create, how they create value, and for whom they create value.

Breaking leadership down into these components allows us to measure the performance of our leaders and provide insight into how they can improve their leadership for the greater good.

A graphic depicting what constitutes leadership for the greater good

References and further reading

Cronin, T.E., & Genovese, M.A. (2012). Leadership matters: Unleashing the power of paradox. Boulder: Paradigm.

Forsyth, D.R., & Hoyt, C.L. (Eds.). (2011). For the greater good of all: Perspectives on individualism, society, and leadership. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Graham, J., Haidt, J., Koleva, S., Motyl, M., Iyer, R., Wojcik, S. P., & Ditto, P. H. (2013). Moral foundations theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 47, pp. 55-130). Academic Press.

Hayek, F. A. (1960). The Constitution of Liberty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mayer, C. (2018). Prosperity: Better Business Makes the Greater Good: OUP Oxford.

Rawls, J. (1971). A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Reich, R. B. (2018). The Common Good. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Sandel, M. J. (2020). The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? London: Allen Lane.

Sluga, H. (2014). Politics and the Search for the Common Good. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wilson, S.G. (2016). Leadership for the greater good: developing indicators of societal and environmental health. In K. Goldman Schuyler, J.E. Baugher, & K. Jironet (Eds.), Creative social change: leadership for a healthy world (pp. 161-179). Bingley: Emerald.


The Australian Leadership Index was founded on the principle that leaders should act beyond their self-interest and vested interests to benefit the greater good, and that this leadership should come from institutions across all sectors.As a result, a wide range of institutions across the government, public, private and not-for-profit sectors are measured and tracked over time, providing a comprehensive and ongoing picture of the state of leadership for the greater good in Australia.

Which sectors and institutions are measured by the Australian leadership index?


The ALI score is an index which captures how an institution, sector, or the nation is performing on leadership for the greater good.

An ALI score is calculated in a similar way to the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is a well-known and easily understood index ranging from -100 to 100.

Each ALI score is calculated as the proportion of people who believe that a given institution shows leadership for the greater good to a ‘fairly large’ or ‘extremely large’ extent minus the proportion who believe it shows leadership for the greater good to ‘some extent’ or ‘not at all’.

Interpretation: positive scores indicate an institution is seen as practising leadership for the greater good, and negative scores indicate an institution is not seen as practising leadership for the greater good. The further away the score is from zero, the more positive or negative the overall perception.

A graphic depicting how the ALI score is calculated


Each quarter, a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians is surveyed about how they believe key sectors and institutions are performing on leadership for the greater good. The survey measures both perceptions and expectations of leadership for the greater good and its nine drivers, allowing us to determine which institutions need to improve, and in which areas. We collect extensive profiling data about our survey participants, meaning we can conduct analysis across various cross-sections of the population.

Australian leadership index research survey journey to measure leadership for the greater good in australia


The results and findings from the Australian Leadership Index are reported in a number of ways.


Our publicly accessible online dashboard allows users to explore the key findings and results from the Australian Leadership Index survey. It caters for a range of analytic skills, from the general public to data analysts and researchers.


Articles on various leadership issues are published regularly through our reports page. Articles range from explainers about the study to analyses of leadership scores in response to current and topical events. Users can subscribe to receive email notifications each time an article is published.


Each quarter, the Swinburne University research team release a quarterly report, highlighting key results and findings. These reports provide a timely assessment of current events and how perceptions of leadership have changed in response.


Each year, the Swinburne University research team releases an annual report, providing a comprehensive analysis of how perceptions and expectations of leadership for the greater good have changed in response to various events, over time, and across sectors and institutions.


The project team comprises researchers with expertise in leadership, large-scale survey design and administration, and advanced data analytics.

sam wilson swinburne university of technology australian leadership index

Dr Sam Wilson

Associate Professor in Management
Swinburne Business School

Sam has a PhD in social psychology from the University of Melbourne and is a registered psychologist. He teaches leadership development to postgraduates in the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship and conducts research with a range of industry groups. His research interests span national studies of leadership for the greater good to psychological studies of humanitarianism.

Dr Melissa Wheeler

Dr Melissa Wheeler

Senior Lecturer in Management
Swinburne Business School

Melissa’s PhD is in Social Psychology from the University of Melbourne. She teaches in the areas of leadership, change management, and business ethics. Melissa is committed to advancing understanding of the greater good through her research in organisational ethics, moral decision-making, and female representation in leadership and through her contributions to the Human Research Ethics Committee and the Women’s Academic Network at Swinburne.

Dr Vlad Demsar

Dr Vlad Demsar

Lecturer in Marketing
Swinburne Business School

Vlad has a PhD in marketing from Monash University. He teaches Digital Marketing to postgraduates in the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship and conducts marketing research with industry partners in a range of sectors and industries. His research interests lie in understanding consumer culture, consumer behaviour, customer retaliation and subversion, digital strategy, and social media crisis management.


Ms Sylvia Gray

Research Associate
Swinburne Business School

Sylvia is completing a Master of Psychology (Organisational Psychology) at Deakin University and is a provisional psychologist. She teaches into a variety of psychology units at Deakin University. Her research interests include leadership, burnout and employee well-being.


Ms Kristy Horne

Client Engagement Specialist
Swinburne Business School

Kristy has over 20 years experience working in market research, client engagement, corporate training, and executive education. Kristy is passionate about relationship-building and management, internal and external stakeholder management, and liaising directly with clients.


Subscribe to access downloadable reports and receive email notifications when new articles are published by the research team. 

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2021 Annual Report Now Available

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