Long live the ideal of romantic leadership. (Not really.)


Like a Hollywood script, there are organizations suffering from this star-studded philosophy. The romantic idea of leadership, the scheme that one leader will save the day, persists like a bad heat rash. It’s characterized by:


1)      The triumphant general, standing on the hill after battle (with slash and burn strategies behind him).

2)      The belief that one person will have all the answers needed to succeed.

3)      The thinking that if we stay in our garage long enough (and not let anyone see what we’re doing) we’ll be bigger than HP.

4)      The idea that one person can see the entire scope of the battle field (and the enemy still uses smoke signals to communicate).


Potential is lost when a meeting is filled with those attempting to be the romantic leader – and those waiting for the romantic leader to tell them what to do and save the day.


To be sure, situational leadership requires adaptable actions. A crisis often requires the person in charge to take control. (But what does it say about the romantic leader who creates crisis so they’re style of leadership is always in demand?)


Plus, most know the talent depth chart for each role in the organization is now one person deep. The days of having a platoon of people to command and conquer any singular task are over. Every person is required to do and lead from their position.


Therein is the collision of leadership ideals. How society likes to define (romanticize) leadership is increasingly at odds with the leadership actions necessary to succeed.


It’s worth asking your team: How do we define leadership? And what leadership actions do we need to model now to succeed?


Share your definition of leadership below, so our community of leaders can benefit from your great thoughts.

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