The 1 Reason Some Leaders are Good and Others are Great

05/18/2015 12:16 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2016


Why is it that some leaders are good while others accomplish greatness? I was contemplating this over my morning coffee. I see this play out so often, in business, politics and sports. How many times have you witnessed a leader who may be enjoying modest success, replaced by someone else, who winds up achieving so much more with the same talent? What is the catalyst for that achievement, for the improved performance? I will leave it for the academicians to posit their empirically supported hypotheses. I can only offer the experiential and anecdotal. As always, I do so in the hopes of starting a dialogue, in order that we may all benefit from the collective wisdom.

2015-05-17-1431906300-2646049-intertwine_outcomes_tree.jpgI have worked with and for leaders that have a knack for being able to see the potential of a business. They crystalize the purpose of the organization and have a real vision for its future. Furthermore, they are able to effectively articulate both, thus creating strong organizational understanding, which supports growth. Similarly, I have had the opportunity to work with and for leaders who know how to connect with people. They create a vibrant culture that kindles tremendous esprit de corps. These are the type of leaders that people rally around, often saying they would "take a bullet" for them. Like the former, having an engaged workforce supports growth. Yet I'd argue that alone, neither of these drives greatness.

I view the above as two of the most common leadership archetypes. The first is the visionary leader. This is a person who drives innovation, holds a vision that others find difficult to comprehend and is most likely admired but not loved by their team. The other is a leader of personality. This is a leader who is a great communicator, motivator and man or women of the people. People feel good, but don't necessarily understand how their role impacts the organization's purpose or vision.

There is a third type of leader; one who is integrative. It is this form of leadership that delivers the truly uncommon results. In my opinion, the one reason some leaders are good and others accomplish greatness is that great leaders have the ability to integrate. They possess a skill allowing them to blend a strong sense of purpose, vision and values with the capacity to connect with, validate and motivate people. Rather than having a workforce that is simply engaged, they create enlightened employees.

There is a third type of leader; one who is integrative. It is this form of leadership that delivers the truly uncommon results.


Enlightened employees take on the organization's purpose as their own. The leader's vision becomes shared and the values adopted and embodied in their actions. They no longer look to the leader for direction. Instead, they know with a sense of certainty what must be done and understand fully the desired results. Most importantly, they believe in the importance of their role and feel heard, cared for, valued and respected.

So this begs the question; is this integrative approach to leadership something that is innate or can it be learned? I believe strongly than it can be taught. In addition, I feel that with the change in workplace demographics, specifically the influx of Millennials, now more that ever there is a need for this type of leadership.

Thanks for reading.

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