On Apples and Oranges


Understand leadership roles by comparing leadership to something else.

Leader as:

  1. Glue: connecting people to each other’s dreams.
  2. Curious monkey: seeking and creating clarity with courageous questions.
  3. Bulldozer: pushing through barriers by exploring resistance.
  4. Prognosticator: predicting the future by seeing patterns in the past.
  5. Coach: building winning teams.
  6. Road sign: calling for alignment.
  7. Instigator: challenging accepted beliefs and behaviors in order to confront stagnation and create something new.
  8. Guardian: protecting resources and progress.
  9. Mentor: sharing useful experiences that guide.
  10. Magic Eight Ball: making decisions.
  11. Police man: correcting, enforcing, and holding accountable for the common good.
  12. Partner: sharing the load by honoring and leveraging strengths.
  13. Magnet: attracting followers by focusing on shared values.
  14. Communicator: conveying relevant information that empowers.
  15. Servant: seeking the success of others.

Leader as curious monkey:

My favorite comparison is curious monkey. The trouble with questions is they create confusion, at least at first.

The path to clarity always begins with confusion.

Leaders step into confusion with courageous curiosity.

Curiosity is enabled by optimism, the belief in our ability to find answers. Fear, on the other hand, stifles curiosity because it pursues safety.

The false belief that leaders have all the answers prevents curiosity and propagates blind certainty. The most dangerous people are those who think they know but don’t. The result of false clarity is wasted time, effort, and resources.

Successful leaders shift from giving answers to asking questions.

What is your favorite comparison?

How would you complete, leader as ______?