INSIGHT - 3 Truths About Overrated Leadership - How to embrace the ineffective desire of everyone's need to lead.

insight Jun 17, 2019

Never has there been such a need and hunger for good leadership. Whether that be in politics, our communities or our businesses; everyone is craving for the comfort of inspiring leaders who will take us forward to a better future.

Having spent over a decade building a multi-million-pound organisation of over 1000 people; I learned first-hand the importance of good leadership, alongside some cold hard truths about how to create and sustain this vital business resource.

Whilst many organisations rightly believe that leadership is essential for their success, their expectations of achieving this are distorted. The real success formula for sustainable growth lies in having a couple of key leaders and then turning the masses' desire for leadership prowess into fulfilment from supporting others.



Many people believe that they want to be a leader, and this is understandable – good leadership has been glamorised in our societies. Most people are searching for meaning and connection in a detached social-media-infused world. Standing out from the crowd by appearing to lead is a great way to broker attention.

So often during my career, I have been told by well-meaning people that they wanted to be a leader, but when faced with the reality of taking control (especially in uncertain circumstances) this desire quickly dwindles. They want to step up, so others see them aloft, but not so high that their head pokes above the parapet.

Most people would love the title of leadership but what they actually want is to be a valuable follower. They want to feel like they are making a contribution and creating change. They are searching for a sense of meaning and fulfilment but not the challenges and complexities.


TRUTH 1 – Most people don’t want to lead, they want to follow, but they need to feel the kudos and fulfilment of making a difference.



Many people are stuck with the paradigm of leadership from when times were buoyant and simple. Leadership was mostly about inspiring the people around you to do more than they would have done otherwise. To be a good leader you mainly needed to get the best out of those around you.

True modern-day leadership needs to be about so much more.  We live in a time of fast and disruptive change – to lead in these times requires an aptitude to navigate risks and stay ahead of the game, alongside mobilising people to come on that journey with you.

Many of those with leadership titles in UK businesses are now coming up short in the expectations of those around them. 66% of senior executives felt that CEOs were not leading from the front and 40% of UK leaders rejected disruptive ideas for fear of failure.*

TRUTH 2 – Today’s leaders have a much more complex environment which requires a new type of leadership.



Today’s leaders have a challenging task – to steer their organisational ship on a constantly changing and danger-scattered route, whilst also making sure every sailor onboard feels valued and important.  

Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations offer a perfect example of a leader struggling to juggle modern strategic and people challenges - both of which are essential for success.  The former Prime Minister may have completed what appeared most difficult at the outset – agreeing on a deal with the Europeans – but the real challenge came when she needed to gain the support of those internally in her government.

She had forged ahead with the complex task in hand and not made those around her feel part of that leadership. Perhaps if she had invested in a better culture of empowering her colleagues it would have been easier to gain their support and momentum.  

Modern-Day Leadership is not just about navigating the complexities and spreading influence, it is also about raising others up along the way.

TRUTH 3 – In order to be successful, leaders must find ways to raise up their followers whilst they navigate complex environments.



There is one solution that offers a strong path forward for today’s leadership. It empowers all the followers to feel like they are making a difference. It also becomes a self-perpetuating vehicle to engage in collaborative work across an organisation.

The solution is MENTORING. By developing a mentoring culture, followers get their fix of fulfilment by helping raise others. They may not be leading a whole organisation, but they will feel like they have a responsibility, a meaningful purpose and are making a difference. Collectively everyone can progress towards the leaders overriding vision and mission. This is also a hugely resource-effective method for the leader. The leader now has willing allies throughout their organisation; helping inspire a new generation of valuable followers and nurture potential future leaders.

In the early days of my business, I initially invested resources in trying to develop and recruit leaders with only limited results. When I created an effective mentoring culture my organisation became the fastest growing in its sector. Those who wanted leadership prowess, but not the complexities, felt empowered and safe to support others and gain a fulfilment that kept them engaged. As an added benefit, through this mentoring, some people evolved into becoming true modern-day leaders, ready to take on more complex roles. This mentoring culture created a continuous source of passionate and valuable followers who all feel committed and part of something greater than themselves.


SOLUTION - One of the most valuable assets a leader can create is a robust mentoring culture. This will empower and engage everyone to support the leader’s vision and mission. Loyal followers will feel the fulfilment they are searching for. They will help raise up future generations of valuable followers and potential leaders. It is resource-effective and when done correctly can help create a long-term sustainable future for an organisation.



Fran Boorman is an award-winning business leader who was named as the UK’s Top Business Influencer by Global Woman in 2019. Over a decade she built a multi-million-pound organisation that engaged a workforce of over 1000 agents across the UK. The business became the fastest growing in its sector due to a robust mentoring culture that enabled it to attract and engage a motivated talent pool.

In order to share her unique system and process of developing effective mentoring, Fran Co-founded Goal 17. The company delivers the UK's Number 1 Mentoring Programme to corporate clients that uses sport and social value to help create an engaging training environment.



*Deloittecom. 2019. Deloitte Human Capital Trends. [Online]. [27 July 2019]. Available from:



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