An Anti-leadership Model

In my eight years of facilitating the Sage Leadership Academy, I have flirted with a dozen or more leadership models: Myers-Briggs, Emotional Intelligence, PDP, Kingdomality, Transactional vs. Transformational, generational differences and a few others.

Honestly, I have found all such models to be hopelessly flawed in their attempts to label people. Some are OK, and provide fun group exercises, but they are business’s equivalent of astrology.

In my work with small and medium business people, I have personally identified the two things that the most successful leaders do:

  1. They self regulate their own anxiety. They do not let the anxiety of others to become or heighten their own anxiety. (I have written on empathy as psychological disorder in the past.)
  2. They are masters at confronting people with their own freedom. The see beyond the surface of the particular problem or question and either a) ask a better deeper question that promotes the person to see their own set of choices, or b) state a truth to the person that the person was unable to see or willing to acknowledge.

I have not identified the “competencies” of such leaders in any formal way. All my evidence is anecdotal.

PS – I tweeted and FB’ed the lead for this post and it created a flurry of activity on my Facebook page. I am not sure if you need to be my friend in order to view it. If so, send me a request and I will add you.


  1. Eric Fetterolf says:

    Interesting points. I wonder, could you speak of the converse of point one. Do you find successful leaders regulate their anxieties and not allow others anxiety to be influenced by their own?

  2. I think, by definition, they cannot do this. I cannot make you feel anything since they are yours and yours alone.

    Viktor Frankl called this the last of the human freedoms – to feel about a situation the way we feel.

    Now, if you mean they do not try to transfer their own anxiety to others by getting them all riled up, then, yes. Good leaders do not cause further panic in stressful situations.

    But good leaders do not shy away from the truth of a situation either.

  3. Eric Fetterolf says:


    I completely agree with “How you feel is your fault”.

    I could have phrased my question better. Your answer seems to capture the essence of my question.

    Would the paraphrase “Successful Leaders do not attempt artifically increase the anxiety of others” be sufficient?

  4. Yes.

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