Are You a Real Leader

or Just a Leader With a Title…Here is How to Tell.

For the past 20 years, I have been professionally speaking at conferences on leadership as it pertains to creating employee engagement in the workplace – meaning, how to get people excited about their work, give their best and show up ready to work hard.  There are different ways we can learn about leadership.  We can read books or attend seminars, but I think the best way to learn is by example, coaching, or through a mentor.


I am sure there is enough activity in your world that provides real leadership lessons to learn from.  It is said that great leaders create more leaders.  If that is true, I think we have to examine the example we set for others to follow.  The example we set truly defines if we are a real leader or someone who is in a leadership role because of a title.  Come on, you know it and I know it, not all people in leadership roles are real leaders.  Their example of leadership lacks substance, respect and value for others.  They do only what they think or assume leaders do. That is not real leadership.  Leadership is about owning your position and being an example that cultivates leaders in others.

Recently, I ordered 5000 copies of my new book, The Magic of Enthusiasm. It’s one of my best books – ask anyone who has read it – it’s awesome.  I personally like to self publish most of my new books because it allows me write and publish with speed and control.  Some of my other books I have printed with publishers, but that process may take years to get to completion, so it favors me to self publish.  Anyways, the printer I was using informed me my 5000 new books would arrive on a certain date. It was critical that they arrived by that date because of all the pre-orders I had as well as for the events I was speaking at.

So, the trucking company delivering them called and set up a window of time they would be dropping them off and I waited around for 5 hours and finally I heard the truck pull up.  As the driver was unloading the boxes, he said, this sure seems like a small amount to be 5000 books. Upon closer inspection we quickly realized it was the wrong order.  Another authors books and been sent to me and my books got sent to some guy’s house in Boston.  He must have been a little surprised.


When I called the printer to inquire what happened, I got the run around. Nobody wanted to take ownership for the error.  I even emailed the owner to ask how they would fix it. His only response was, “We are looking into it.”   That’s all I got!

There was no apology, personal phone call, discount, or promise to make it right.  Eventually it was an assistant who reached out to me blaming the shipper for the error, still taking absolutely no responsibility. So, I called the shipper and they said it was defiantly the printer who was at error.  Basically, nobody wanted to step up and own the mistake.  At this point, I felt like I was dealing with a bunch of  kids who did something wrong and didn’t’ want to get in trouble. Ultimately even if it was the shipper’s error, the printer decided to utilize that company so they need to figure it out with them.  That said, they still have an obligation to make things right with their customer. It doesn’t even need to be in form of monetary compensation, a simple phone call with an honest apology and promise to do better would have been sufficient.


But more importantly then a phone call, what example does this set for everyone in their organization? Leaders who lead because of a title play the blame game. They don’t want to look bad so they point the finger.  This is not a real leader and it will not inspire leadership within their team.

Real leaders step up, take ownership, fix it, make it right and win customers.

Their example is what creates more leaders in their organization.   Leaders with only a title don’t create more leaders, they create just the opposite.  Titled leaders take credit for the wins and real leaders give credit to everyone else for the wins.  Titled leaders blame others for the losses and real leaders take ownership for the losses.

I often like to ship out most of my own books when people purchase them.  I will sign them up and often I like to add something extra as a way to say thanks for following and supporting my work.  Plus, I love knowing I am going to make someone’s day.  I remember one time, I had 100 orders to go out and so I bought 100 priority stamps and packed up all the orders.  I didn’t want the packaging to tear, so I taped up the package with shipping tape.

However, I noticed all these orders were being shipped back to me.  The post office sent me a note saying you can’t tape over a stamp because it could be someone reusing an old stamp.  As a result, I had customers emailing me asking about the status of their orders and why it was taking so long.  As much as I wanted to blame the post office, I owned my error, paid for the mistake and made it more than right with my customers.  In doing that, I demonstrated real leadership and I won the hearts of my customers.

When you go above and beyond to fix something that is frustrating to your customer, you win their loyalty and hearts.

It is important to evaluate your style of leadership.  Ask yourself, are you demonstrating the kind of leadership that inspires great leadership in others or are you frustrating others and pointing the finger when things go wrong kind of leader.  Your example is everything when it comes to leadership.  The example you set communicates if you are a real leader or someone in a leadership role with a title.

Real leaders take their organization and people farther.  Real leaders win customers loyalty and hearts.  Leaders who operate off a title create disengagement and frustration in the workplace and lose customers.  Real leaders empower people for success.  Titled leaders don’t care about others becoming successful, they only care about themselves.

Take a moment and evaluate your leadership.  Are you the real deal or someone who thinks they are?
Think about it.

Sam Glenn, Award Winning Keynote Speaker