ABSTRACT The answer to what makes an effective leader has long been the "holy grail" of business research. By and large, theorists have abandoned trait and behavior approaches in favor of situational leadership theories. Popular press gurus, however, continue to focus on a "leader ethic" (traits and behavior) as the foundation to effective leadership. Further, gurus such as Bass (transformational leadership), Goleman (emotional intelligence) and Covey (seven habits) believe that this fundamental ethic is universal to mankind. As such, this research uses Stephen Covey's seven habits of effectiveness and the characteristics of emotional intelligence and transformational leadership to explore how leaders from various cultures (e.g., U.S., Russia, Germany, and China) rank the popular traits and behaviors that make up a "leader ethic." The rankings are compared across gender, age groups, supervisory levels, and professions. Cultural differences of opinion are examined in terms of Hofstede's cultural dimensions (e.g., uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, individualism, power distance and time) for possible insights to variances in "leader ethic." The findings endorse the universality of Covey's "Seven Habits" and have clear implication for understanding and training cross-cultural leadership.