7 Leadership Development Secrets from Michelangelo

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Michelangelo

Think of leadership development as setting angels free.

Someone saw something in you that you didn’t see in yourself. That person changed the trajectory of your life.

Think of leadership development as setting angels free. Image of a sculpture with hammer and chisel.


If you only see weakness and inadequacy in others, you are dead weight to everyone you touch.

There is no skill in seeing weakness and inadequacy in others. Bad is stronger than good. It comes naturally. You notice bad first, frequently, and with greater clarity.

What if the people around you were angels to be set free?

People feel energized to bring their best when you respect who they are.

Leadership development is about others:

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo

  1. Mold people into their image, not yours.
  2. Inspire people to become their aspirational selves.
  3. Emulating others is useful in self-discovery, but not an end in itself.

7 Leadership Development Secrets from Michelangelo:

  1. Admiration. Never work to develop someone if you don’t admire them.
  2. Humility. You know many things, but you still have room to learn. People who develop others develop themselves. Self-development is the first development. Learn from people you develop.
  3. Optimism. Believe progress is possible and probable.
  4. Forward-looking. Leadership development is about creating the future, not fixing the past. Backward looking people drag people down.
  5. Patience. There is no lasting development until new behaviors become automatic. They might not be easy, but they are top of mind.
  6. Empathy. Pity, sympathy, and superiority have no place in leadership development.
  7. Action. Leadership development begins with theory but always distills into behaviors.
Image of a yellow flower. The Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz sought what he had.

Leadership development is about being an artist:

“The best of artists has no conception that the marble alone does not contain within itself.” Michelangelo

What is true of leaders who develop leaders?

Quote source: Quotes of Michelangelo