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Being a student of leadership may get you the position, but it is not enough.

Being a student of leadership is a good start. Having all the right books prominently displayed on your bookshelf and saying all the right things may make you look like a leader. Attending the courses and workshops and having all the leadership certificates and diplomas may get you hired or promoted into a leadership position.

None of these however, make you a leader. None of these will build trust with the people you are tasked with leading. None of these will make people believe you care about them. None of these will help you to build and sustain a culture of leading, learning and excellence. In fact, if they are a façade, it will become clear to everyone very quickly that you are a poser, a student of leadership and not a practitioner of leadership, and the façade will crumble.

To be a leader you need people that will follow you voluntarily. You need to care about your people, and they need to know that you care. You need to invest in your people’s wellness and development. You need to train your people and then trust them to do what they were hired to do. You need to have the courage to do what is right, even when it is not popular or expedient. You need to have the courage to give your people the authority to make decisions and solve problems. You need to stand up for your people. You need to give your people the credit for your team’s success and be willing to stand up and take the blame when things go wrong.

Being a student of leadership is a good start, but it is not enough. If you are not willing to do the work to be a leader, do not accept the leadership position. If you do not have the courage to lead, do not accept the leadership position. Too many organizations struggle because they have people in leadership positions who are students of leadership, not practitioners of leadership. You need to be both.

Remember that leadership is a choice and a journey, and it starts with you. Choose well, keep learning, take action, lead, and enjoy the journey.

Brian Willis

Register yourself, and your team for the Dare to Be Great: Strategies for Creating a Culture of Leading online workshop to get everyone on the same page regarding leadership and culture. If you are interested in hosting a one or two day live Dare to Be Great workshop reach out to me at