The Leader on a Pony

A few leaders possess wide bands of competence and giftedness. You probably don’t.

Your high horse is a pony, at best.

at best the leader's big white horse is a little brown pony.png

You possess a narrow band of giftedness. In the middle, you have a wide range of average competencies. However, compared to the list of possible skills and gifts that humans possess, yours are a drop in a bucket.


When you’re “the leader on the white horse,” …

  1. Fault for failure lies with others. After all, how could you be wrong?
  2. Ownership by others is low. You’re the one at the center.
  3. Talent in others is devalued. When you’re the most important person, others aren’t.
  4. Respect turns to deference.
  5. Deference turns to neglect.
  6. Neglect turns to disaster.

Leaders “on white horses,” give themselves permission to dominate others. Talented people enjoy focus. They don’t enjoy being told what to do. 

You don’t have to be superior to be gifted.


When you’re “the leader on a pony”…

  1. Talent in others is valued and honored.
  2. Authority is divested and distributed.
  3. Accountability flows up and down the organizational structure.
  4. Decisions take longer. Ownership is higher.
  5. You’re valued for your ability to maximize others.
  6. Recognition – the spotlight – widens.
  7. Respect is earned, not granted.

10 ways to get off your white horse:

  1. Evaluate yourself by how well you develop and maximize talent in others.
  2. Clarify, don’t abdicate, your role in organizational life. 
  3. Eliminate perks and special privileges.
  4. Push authority and decision-making to people closest to the action.
  5. Begin asking, “What do you think we should do?”
  6. Learn and leverage coaching skills.
  7. Stay connected. Manage by wandering around. (MBWA)
  8. Say, “Thank you,” everywhere you go.
  9. Seek feedback, specifically and actively.
  10. Own your mistakes and share what you’re learning.

Boldness requires clarity and belief. Be clear on your role. Believe in your team.

How might leaders address the problem and opportunity of “the leader on a white horse?” 


I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.