Are You a Leader or Are You One Who Leads?

Simon Sinek, in his book on leadership Start with Why, wrote the following:

There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves.

I recall working for a leader who led. He was enjoyable to be around. I followed him not for him but for myself. I was inspired to work hard, take the initiative and be creative with my responsibilities.

I also recall working for a leader I did not enjoy working for mainly because he depended heavily on his power and influence to lead. I dreaded showing up for work, and I and my colleagues were happiest when our work day was over.

There is no shortage of leaders who rely heavily on their power and influence. At times, this approach to leading is necessary. But this approach should be the exception not the norm if you want to inspire those you lead.

So if leaders do not rely on power and influence then how do they inspire those they lead? Leaders who inspire us do the following:

They walk the talk. Leaders who inspire are very aware that their example is the primary means of inspiring their followers. They know their example is the main creator of culture in the organization. They model loyalty, honesty, transparency and responsibility for their followers to emulate.

You can count on these leaders to always tell you the truth, as difficult as that may be at times. They take ownership of their failures without blaming others. Inspirational leaders don’t wear masks; you see them for who they really are. They are not interested in trying to impress but always seek to be real.

They are good listeners. Leaders who inspire know the value of being a good listener. They seek first to understand rather than to be understood. Good listening takes time, and emotional and mental energy. Good listening makes the speaker feel heard, respected and valued

They praise sincerely. Leaders who inspire know how to be sincere with their praise. They know how to see and acknowledge the good work in their followers. They also have an eye for seeing potential excellence in their followers and are able to praise them for what they already see.

Inspirational leaders do not overlook the ordinary things their followers do but express sincere thanks and appreciation to their followers even for doing the very things they were hired to do. Leaders who inspire know only too well that it is not money that gets the best out their followers, but how valued and respected they are made to feel by their leader.

They are always learning. “Know it all” leaders are never inspirational. Rather they are often viewed as overbearing and difficult to converse with. On the other hand, inspirational leaders are aware that they are always learning. They are always open to learning from those they lead; they invite their followers to offer suggestions, make presentations, and speak with them one-on-one.

Inspirational leaders are aware that their way is not the only way and that their followers could have better ways of getting things done. Inspirational leaders never stop learning.

There are leaders and there are those who lead. Which one are you?

If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.