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Why Leadership Training Fails to Inspire True Followership

Let’s have an honest chat about leadership training for maximum followership. I’ve been to hundreds of seminars and workshops over my career. Read endless books detailing the qualities and behaviors that supposedly make great leaders. But in my experience, most miss the core point.

They mistake management training for leadership training.

Most so-called leadership training focuses on external symptoms – the proper optics, the right talking points, authority, and power structures. Basically, they teach how to enforce compliance. But that’s not real leadership!

You see, leadership can’t be boiled down to observable traits in any one person. Real leadership is rare. You can’t judge it simply by appearance, speech, or spotlight moments.

True leadership is only measurable by the actions of followers.

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Leadership Reality Check

True leadership ability does not always appear outwardly impressive. Take the cult leader behind the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide. From the outside, he looked like a complete kook! You’d never guess he could compel anyone to action.

Yet he compelled nearly 40 people to give their lives for his deranged beliefs willingly. They felt complete commitment to his vision.

Meanwhile, giant corporations spend millions on flashy leadership conferences headlined by CEOs. But in many cases, their employees remain mostly disengaged.

Authentic, dedicated followership stems from service over self, not speeches or optics. And that is a much quieter, subtler ability to cultivate.

You must assess the level of follower commitment and their narratives to understand who truly leads versus who wields managerial authority.

Good or bad, inspirational leadership cannot be measured by outward appearance or words alone. The proof lies in the action it drives in others.

Why Conventional Leadership Training Fails

  1. Conventional leadership focuses outward, not inward. Before leading others, you must do the personal inventory to become the right kind of leader. Leadership starts from within.
  1. It prioritizes optics over integrity. Too often, leadership emphasizes saying the right things over doing the right things, power over purpose, and image over character.
  2. It seeks compliance rather than commitment. Much training focuses on obtaining followers rather than earning their engaged enthusiasm through service.
  3. It lacks accountability. Many leaders never assess the level of dedication and performance of their team. They need to realize better leadership is reflective, while great leadership shows in employees’ effectiveness.
  4. It peddles universal rules. In truth, inspirational leadership must be fluid and situational. There are no step-by-step formulas. It’s not management with a 10-point checklist.

The best leaders walk in service, assess impact, and refine approaches based on that ethical feedback loop.

But most training emphasizes gaining leadership authority rather than developing leadership capacity through genuine service.

As I developed my new book on leadership, I saw most materials out there teach students how to manage employees—the vital way of inspiring followership is rarely addressed. I aim to rectify that.

Leadership By Example

The truth is that leadership is messy. It’s rarely comfortable or convenient. Yes, it affords great potential, too, but mostly in service of others.

I seek to demystify the concept for those ready to answer a higher call to leadership. One rooted not in compliance and self-importance but in humility, integrity, and purpose.

As I share in the book, my leadership education began when I was young, noticing stark inconsistencies between what the adults around me preached and how they behaved. I realized motivating words often disguise underlying agendas.

Are You Ready for Raw Leadership Reality?

Over decades of leading in the automotive industry and beyond, I’ve refined an approach to revealing greater truths.

My brand of coaching pulls no punches in exposing what holds leaders back from inspiring their most significant possible impact. And business owners listen because it works.

If you want to grow into your best self and take your business to new heights, let’s talk. During a quick 15-minute session, we can discuss your unique leadership goals and how coaching will help you achieve maximum growth in your business. Schedule yours here.

The world needs more leaders devoted to empowering people over promoting themselves. Together, we can develop the right influential leaders that businesses, communities, and families desperately need.

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