Why Leadership is Not About Celebrity


leadership is not about celebrity

By Andrew Jennings, CCO – Like most of you, I’m sure, I’m bombarded with news, opinions, and good intentions through social media on a daily basis (and yes, I get the irony of bringing this up in a blog post ;-). Something that struck me recently, is how easily we get caught up in “celebrity,” and how that can leave us feeling inspired—or on the other hand,  inadequate—but not empowered. It seems to me that leadership is not about celebrity.

Many times, we have been asked to help an organization with its leadership development program by giving an inspirational talk. While we are happy to do that, we typically ask what the program consists of and have been taken aback by the number of times that inspirational talks ARE the program.

Leadership is More Than an Inspiring Story

Now, don’t get me wrong, hearing inspiring stories about how others have achieved dizzy heights of success or overcome true adversity is incredibly powerful. Such stories can help us all realize that our success lies within ourselves. I know I need to be reminded of that, from time to time. However, leadership is so much more than an inspiring story. It’s doing the hard things, making the most of every moment, celebrating success, holding yourself and others accountable, and overcoming challenges. It’s motivating yourself, and then others, toward a clearly defined goal. Yes, you need to paint a vision of success for everyone, but the day-to-day of leadership is simply work. Hard work. Making sure everyone is focused on doing what is effective, rather than obvious. Most of all? It’s being in the trenches with your team.

The Donut Rule

When we hold meetings we have a set of ground rules (which I  highly recommended if you don’t already use them). One of the ground rules is the “Donut Rule.” The purpose of this rule is to focus on the outside of the donut; not the hole in the middle that represents the “if onlys,” “I wish we hads,” etc. We all have a list of these, but since we don’t have them, why spend time on them? Which brings us back to leadership. After all, it’s making the most of what you have that creates great organizations, attracts top talent, and creates a culture where change is embraced and used to drive the organization ever forward. Leadership is not about celebrity and surface impressions; it’s about the inner workings of an organization.

Write Your Story

The next time you listen to an inspiring leadership talk, take a moment to think about what your story would sound like. Would people walk away feeling inspired but a little bit inadequate? Or, would they feel empowered to take real action? What would you like to see in the leaders of your organization? What kind of business results would you get if you achieved this vision?

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to build your culture of leadership that will deliver the all-important business results you desire. More often than not, executing your vision will require partnering with a team of carefully selected trusted advisors. People who you can think of as an extension of your executive team. Then starts the hard work to make your vision a reality. Just remember, leadership is not about celebrity. That is not the goal. Aim for real, tangible business results.


To understand more about how we partner with our customers, reach out and connect with us. We’d be glad to talk . . . who knows, you might even get inspired!

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