When I am sitting in front of a leadership seminar group on day one, about 30 minutes into the seminar I ask the group of 20 participants the following question “Think back for a moment on all the bosses and leaders you have ever had in your career. Raise your hand if you had one highly inspiring, truly motivational leader who made a mark on how you work and who you are – a leader who coached and mentored you, a leader who cared about you — working on your strengths and weaknesses.” Result? About 30% of the hands go up. That means about 70% of the people in that room have never had a truly inspiring leader.

Then I ask them to keep their hands up if they had TWO highly inspiring leaders in their career. Result? About half of the hands go down, that means 85% never had 2 great leaders. Then I ask the few with their hands up, to keep their hands in the air if they had 3 great leaders. Result? Most of the hands go down. Not only is this sad, for we spend most of our days and weeks at work — why spend them at work with uninspiring leaders?

Finally I ask them the following question “if I had all your team members in the next room, and asked them the same question about you as an inspiring leader, how many would raise their hands for you?” A look of concern comes over their faces, as they realize that they themselves might not yet be the best model of leadership. For there are leaders, and those who lead and inspire others to follow.

In my work, I categorize leadership into two large subsections:

  • Leadership with followers not because they necessarily want to follow — I call this operational leadership. In other words, it is the type of leadership with organizational prerogatives; deadlines to be met, information to be provided, rules and regulations to be followed, processes and procedures to be complied with. It is, perhaps the lesser attractive side of leadership though certainly a very necessary side of the coin. It is compliance based leadership and one that great leaders can turn into opportunities to grow and develop themselves and their people.
  • The other side of the coin is Leadership with followers — not because they have to follow, they follow because the want to follow. This is the attraction side of leadership where how you inspire and motivate yourself affects others. It also determines the extent to which you will be remembered as an inspirational leader.

The leadership voyage I embark on is to enable people to work on their natural leadership style to create true “followership” — people who are attracted to follow you, not people who must follow you. This is supported by a set of customized leadership behaviors such as:

My vision as a leader- who am I? How do I want to be remembered as a leader?

Authority and assertiveness skills:

  • To the point: Say what needs to be said — without creating enemy images.
  • Connect: Discover other’s needs and what drives them. Be connected to your needs and what drives them as well.
  • Direction: Give clear instructions and make strong requests. Be open to these as well from others.
  • Turf: Protect and stand up for what is important for you. Set limits / boundaries with passion and honesty.
  • Clarity: Let others know what you want. Let them know your concerns and reactions — speak with facts.
  • Power: Create and maintain “power with” strategies instead playing the “power-over / power-under” games.
  • React: Mitigate emotional “amygdala” highjacks and remain resourceful at all times.
  • Ignore: pretend you don’t notice when others are less than kind to you.
  • Use NonViolent communication to connect, speak and request
  • Present: when speaking, make a positive impact in everything you say and do. Strong gestures + strong stance = gets you noticed.

Connection and likability skills:

  • Approachable: Be friendly, and smile more.
  • Energy: Use the right level of energy for the current situation.
  • Speed: go slowly, speed is often our enemy, so go at half speed.
  • Connect: Create rapport with others, allowing others to connect with you.
  • Empathize with others: compassion + understanding.
  • Engage: Listen actively and intently to people — even when you disagree. Allow others to share their point of view, and even interrupt you.
  • Straight talk: never gossip or talk behind people’s backs.
  • Accept: not everyone will always agree with you or like you. When attacked, stay calm, go slowly, pause, breathe and remain open.
  • Trust: Assume positive intent about people’s actions.
  • Clarity: Remove filler words and contradiction creators such as “but, “however” in all languages. Replace these words with “and” instead of simply pause where the “but” used to be…
  • Succinct: when answering questions, keep your answers to 4 sentences, then ask the listener if they want more information.



Need leaders who listen and respond as the environment changes?

His qualifications and training (MBA, NVC, NLP) don’t describe what sets Robbie apart: energy and style.

Partner with Robbie to unlock your organization’s possibilities. Robbie Kahn works with individuals and organizations to co-create forward movement.

Work together, build on your strengths.

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