In academia the question of ‘what is knowledge’ is vital. The question manifests itself in different ways and at different times, but it is never far below the surface. From astrophysics to anthropology the same issues are dealt with but in different ways according to the particular discipline and the knowledge community. Three words crop up time and again they are: ‘generalisability’, ‘reproducibility’ and ‘validity’. These three words form a universal ‘test’ to be applied to all knowledge in academia. A test applied in different ways, with differing levels of ‘certainty’ according to the discipline. For example, in mathematics a test of proof needs to be true in all circumstances irrespective of context, in social sciences knowledge can often be very context dependent. Never-the-less, the issue of ‘validity’, ‘generalisability’ and ‘reproducibility’ are considered seriously and prove a useful, but not unproblematic, way of testing out the quality of knowledge.The question for me is this: in the vastness of leadership literature what are the ‘tests’ that can highlight the sound practical ideas from the rest? As with knowledge, these ‘tests’ need to be usable across the different approaches to leadership and leadership development. Perhaps we could use these three words: ‘vision’, ‘courage’ and ‘conflict’. I must give credit to Douglas for this idea; Douglas Board and I are in the midst of writing our book, The Social Development of Leadership and Knowledge. For me ‘vision’, ‘courage’ and ‘conflict’ highlight that we are all in an ongoing process of ‘rubbing-along’ together into a future that we can occasionally glimpse and sense, but continually have to adjust to. Used intelligently and critically these words may provide us with a meaningful ‘test’ towards the vastness of leadership frameworks, models, stories and ideas as we make sense of them in the context of our own practice and experience. It may also enable us to distinguish between the useful and the less useful literature on leadership that clutters the bookshelves.