Leaders have at least one thing in common. Do you know what that is?

Leaders look like everyone else. They may be any age, gender or race. They may have any level of education, talents, wealth or authority.

How can you separate the leader from the crowd?

Leaders reveal themselves by their behavior.

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus described the behavior of Leaders in their book, Leaders: “They all have the ability to translate intention into reality and to sustain it.” In the same paragraph, they use the word “vision” interchangeably with “intention.”

How do leaders express their vision in a way that enables them to translate it into reality and sustain it?

When I went to work for Truett Cathy, an outstanding leader, he gave me clear and simple instructions to illustrate what he wanted me to do.

Truett said; “I want you to help me open restaurants and see that they stay open.”

All leaders do this!

Truett had not read Leaders; he gave me his instructions in 1968, seventeen years before the book was published. He didn’t need a book to tell him how leaders were to behave.

Leaders tell their followers what they want.

They don’t expect their followers to read between the lines, listening for the unsaid words, or to decipher lengthy and complicated descriptions of vague concepts.

Truett didn’t tell me what he wanted one day and forget it. He didn’t change his mind every week. He didn’t complicate the vision by constantly adding or altering his instruction.

He continuously repeated the same clear and simple instruction often, but not always in the exact same words. Truett continuously made clear his intention to open restaurants that would stay open. There was a lot of emphasis on, “stay open!”

He did not tell me how to do it!

Leaders let their followers work out how to make the vision a reality.

Leaders attract and keep followers by sharing their vision.

When followers have the opportunity to express themselves and use their own initiative and creativity, the leader’s vision also becomes the follower’s vision. The joint pursuit of that vision is a unifying purpose that holds the leader and follower together.

When Truett gave me and his other followers the opportunity to design, create and build the organization of his vision, we were inspired and motivated to the point where we would let nothing stop us from executing Truett’s vision because it was now our vision.

What do all leaders do?

All Leaders Do This!

Leaders tell their followers what they want, and

leaders let their followers work out how to do it.


Jimmy Collins


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