Follow the Leader!

Follow the Leader

We often are asked about the topic of leadership.

What makes a great leader? Does a leader need to be slightly nuts? Dictatorial? A dreamer? What’s the difference between a leader of people and a leader of an organization? What about coaching? Do you have to be a coach to be a leader?

Well, far be it from us to pretend we have all the answers to these questions. We always have opinions, however, and are happy to offer them when asked. So here goes.

First, a Definition…

Our definition of leadership is: the quality that allows a person to develop and inspire a group of people to achieve a common goal.Click to tweet

Let’s take a look at that: first, we talk about the ability to develop others. It takes a certain amount of “social intelligence” to be able to interact with a group or an individual, see the potential in them, engage them in genuine conversation, discover what makes them tick, and then boil all that information into a development plan.

A great leader is therefore also a great coach. He or she takes the time to know and understand a person and/or team’s history, and spends the time working with them to help them achieve their goals (and ultimately the common goals of the team or organization). It’s a process of helping others with self discovery so that they just know the right thing to do, rather than having to tell them what to do.

Can you be a leader and not coach, develop, or inspire? I suppose so. There are many historical examples of leaders who were successful to some degree. But to what end? Often they lead through fear or intimidation, which can be effective – in the short term. (Think Stalin or Hitler.) I wouldn’t call these “great” leaders.

Nutty Dreamer? Or Inspirer?

We believe that an amazing leader is also one who inspires people to do or be their best. The individual or team simply wants to please him or her, no matter what it takes.

The person who has that je ne sais quoi, that element of inspiration, is one who is born to lead. Whether you’re a new hire, a mid-level manager, a CEO, a kids’ soccer coach, or a school council president – if you are able to inspire others through your passion, your vision, your positive behaviours and your confidence, you will be a leader of one or of many.

Sometimes inspiration and passion can appear over the top and label a person as a “nutty dreamer”. Look at Steve Jobs (I highly recommend his biography, by the way). People often thought he was nuts, and his leadership style left quite a bit to be desired (I wouldn’t use him as a role model for coaching.) But he was truly inspirational and his employees stayed with him through thick and thin. Well, most of them, anyway.

We prefer not to use the word “nuts” – instead, we like to say you need to be a risk taker, putting yourself out on a limb to do the right thing, stand up for the person or the team, and lead by example.

What great leaders do you know? Do they coach? Inspire? Take risks? Do people naturally flock to them and want to be successful for them?

Let us know and share with us at or @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

Until next time,


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