The Death of the Hero Leader

Leadership-Hero-LeaderThe old way of leadership is dying.  We can no longer wait to craft or discover the ONE leader who can create a culture of success. The new model requires a mindset of partnerships, not followers.  Leaders of today recognize that everything they do impacts the mindset of others AND they accept the responsibility to recognize this impact in order to choose their actions.  The intent of this mindset is to form partnerships for successful implementation and engagement on strategies, projects and initiatives.

Molly Harvey of Molly Harvey Global (UK) calls this new leader the Social Artist.

There are many adjectives to describe the Social Artist.  These include transparent, congruent and high integrity.  The challenge is never the description.  The challenge is in the behaviors to become a Social Artist.  What does a Social Artist DO?  How can you become a Social Artist?

In my twenty five years of work as a leadership development coach and consultant, it is clear to me that leaders need to move away from the “to do” list of leadership traits and competencies to a mindset of leadership.  That is, to BE a leader not DO leadership.  Following are three keys to being a Social Artist.

Be Present

Being present is the strongest leadership skill you can possess. You don’t always have to be right or be the wisest person in the world to be an effective leader, but being present will create the greatest amount of trust and respect. 

While researching my book, Leadership Energy: Unlocking the Secrets to Your Success, one of the survey participants summed up the “be present leader”, saying, “In a confident, almost charismatic and very friendly voice, my leader looks me in the eye and delivers compelling statements which tell me he genuinely cares about the business, the customer, and the team (me) in a balanced manner. He provides enough information to demonstrate thoughtful consideration, provides direction, asks what help I need, and makes time for me when I ask for 15 minutes to chat during which I always have his complete, undivided attention.”

So how can you be present when your organization, your projects, your customers/clients, your family, and your team all need so many things from you? Here are three practical tools you can use to bring things back into focus:

  1. Take charge of the speed dial: our natural tendency when we are juggling many things is to move faster. Leaders need to slow the speed dial for effective solutions.
  2. Turn down the volume: high speed and high anxiety turn up the volume on everything. Quiet your voice, quiet your mind, and turn down the volume.
  3. Move one step at a time: focus on what the next step is.

Be Clear

As leaders gain followers, the followers look to the leader to create roadmaps of where to head for success. For many new leaders, the creation of this road map can seem overwhelming.

The majority of leaders I work with are high-achievers. What motivates a high achiever?  Getting an “A” on every endeavor they undertake. Now you become the leader who needs to set the road map or vision for you team. There are no guaranteed A’s on this road map. Granted your organization has a vision and goals, but for most followers, the organization’s vision gets lost in the many demands they have.  Gallup organization’s Q12 Engagement Survey found that “the best workplaces give their employees a sense of purpose, help them feel they belong, and enable them to make a difference.” What does that mean for the vision you set for your team?

Leaders are often promoted to their leadership position based on hard work and results, not on creating vision and engagement for their team. As they move into these roles, they need to shift from being 80 percent technical expert to 80 percent people expert. That is a major challenge, so what do you do?

Being clear is not about adding complexity; being clear is about simplifying. Start by asking yourself three questions:

  1. What do I want for my team?
  2. What does my team bring to the organization?
  3. What do we want to achieve and celebrate as a team?

The answers do not lie in numbers and profits. Most employees don’t get out of bed each morning trying to hit a profit number.  Think beyond numbers and profits; think about the types of successes and the reasons you and your employees want to bring passion, focus, and results to their world of work.

Be Genuine

Above all else, you must be genuinely you. Don’t be a mini-someone else. You have to operate knowing that you have everything you need to be a leader. Can you polish a few things? Sure. Will you learn ways to become more effective? Absolutely, but the canvas that you work from is you. I rarely meet a leader who is 180 degrees off the mark in being a leader that others want to follow.

Here are three things to increase the level of genuine you’re bringing to the office:

  1. Be vulnerable; if you don’t know, admit it.
  2. Admit your mistakes and then make it right.
  3. Act with integrity. Integrity means to do the right thing even when no one is watching.

If you focus your leadership on being present, clear, and genuine, your leadership confidence, focus, and results will grow. As you grow, so will your team. Everyone wins!  It is the impact and responsibility of the Social Artist.  

Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

About Cheryl Leitschuh

Cheryl Leitschuh, Ed.D., RCC is a leadership development specialist. She inspires individuals and organizations to reach their aspirations using the right tools at the right time. Her latest book, The Leadership Energy: Unlocking the Secrets to Your Success, is an Amazon best seller in the leadership energy category.

Connect with Cheryl Leitschuh


  1. Jane excellent observation “to BE a leader not DO leadership” as a lot of people do not understand the root of those differences. In today’s time when we all just hurry this is even more important.



  2. Be Clear! Be Present! Be Ginuine! All great points. This information is very inspiring! I am inspired! Thank You.

  3. Great points on leadership! I really enjoyed your information on being clear because that is definitely a must. Be Present! Be Ginuine! Yes, yes all wonderful information! I am inspired! Than You!

  4. Hi Cheryl,

    Thank you for your great post. The “be a leader” mantra is resonating with me – especially as you relate it to Being Genuine. As I see it, “doing leadership” is putting on a show – but “being a leader” is a 24-hour a day habit – one that surfaces at all times. I appreciate the distinction for “being” uncovers true leadership.

    All the best,


  5. Isn’t this all James McGreggor Burn’s transformational leadership model? Nothing new here. Transformational leaders raise themselves and others to new standards of ethicality and functionality. Transformational leaders eschew transactional leadership interactions and do the right thing. Transformational leaders know who they are and are genuine.

  6. The days of one man show, “I” mentality are gone. To make things happen in this day and age, you must develop the ‘We” mentality and this helps you make better use of your leadership energy.

    No one can achieve success alone, teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon result.

    Dear Cheryl Leitschuh, thank your for finding time to share this your beautiful sagacity with us. Keep shining!

  7. Jane+Perdue says:

    Cheryl – love your concept of the leader as “social artist!” Now what we need are forward-thinking organizations willing to disrupt how they practice and reward leadership by changing their competency models, compensation systems, stories told of leaders, etc. to reflect a more people-oriented approach.

  8. Hi Cheryl

    Excellent contribution. Loved the phrase ‘the challenge is never the description’ as well as the concept of a to be list. Congruence and authenticity between word and deed is so powerful, and we are often tempted to deceive ourselves through rationalisations based on our intentions rather than seeking genuine feedback about our impact.

    Will take the opportunity to follow you if that’s OK with you, I always know with Todd’s network that the contributions will be solid, genuine and based on mutual learning and collaboration.

    Warm wishes


  9. Dear Cheryl,
    I’ve always seen the relationships between leaders and others as partnerships. In fact, I never liked the word “follower” for it minimized the contributions of everyone else.

    The opposite of leader is not follower — it’s partner or influencer etc…

    I think that reality is finally catching up with the words, “leaders/followers”, that unfortunately became standard over the years .

    Bravo to your post. It rings out with substance and clarity about a truth that has gone unseen for too many years!


  10. Great description of leadership. I particularly like you point -Leaders need to shift from being 80 percent technical expert to 80 percent people expert, a point that can be overlooked, particularly in a highly technical field. Also agree with your points on being genuine. Authenticity is crucial in leadership. It fosters a sense of trust that is essential if a leader is to capture hearts and minds and ultimately a following.

    • Thank you Peter. The distinction between technical mastery and leadership mastery is often very helpful in assisting new leaders to understand what they don’t know and how to focus their learning.


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  7. […] The old way of leadership is dying. We can no longer wait to craft or discover the ONE leader who can create a culture of success. The new model requires a mindset of partnerships, not followers. Leaders of today recognize that everything they do…  […]