On Unicorns and Fairy Dust

I’ve rejected the “savior-leader” model but still feel pressure to be one. Savior-leaders arrive on unicorns and solve problems by sprinkling fairy dust over people and organizations. Poof! Everything is magically fixed.


Internal pressure to have answers presses me to give answers. I want to be the savior. Often I believe I have answers. Not having answers is usually better.

The “burden of knowing” – even if I don’t really know – makes it hard to keep my mouth shut.

Answers given are less useful
than answers discovered


Expectations of others press me to provide answers. Some still believe in the savior-leader. They’re waiting for me to reach into my secret fairy dust pouch and make everything right. When leaders succumb to this pressure they create dependent relationships that weaken.

Savior-leaders inevitably crash and burn
when the fairy dust runs out.


Share techniques – let others execute. I have a suit-case full of techniques I’ve learned over the years. For example, when you explain what to do, always lead with vision – give why’s before what’s. That’s not fair dust. That’s a real-world technique that others can run with, in their own way.

The difference between savior-leaders and leaders who share techniques is authority. Everyone wins when individuals are enabled and have authority.

Rise above the savior-leader syndrome:

  1. Lead with more questions and fewer answers.
  2. Answer with – not for.
  3. Enable and authorize. Teach how and then release.
  4. Praise the accomplishments of others.
  5. Enable and encourage others to teach others.

How do you deal with the savior-leader syndrome?


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