Leading leaders – how to be a successful Super Leader


Jean Gamester is from Toastmasters International and for the past five years she has been training the organisation’s “Super Leaders to be” in how to lead the leaders of their clubs across the UK and Ireland.

Here are Jean’s three top tips – based on some of her favourite leadership books – to help us become Super Leaders.

Ditch the detail and lead with authority

In his book “Leadership that Gets Results” Daniel Goleman talks about a range of leadership styles and how effective they are.  The most powerful style he describes is “The Authoritative Style” which focuses on inspiring people to come along together to achieve a goal.  The leader describes the outcome and gets buy in to that outcome, but leaves the method to the leader on the ground.   We ask them questions about what would help them achieve rather than giving them our own answers.

When we rise above the day to day and energise our people to focus on how they can get their people to find ways to achieve the goal, then we can all grow, we can all play a role in achieving.

Create a learning environment

In a fabulous tribute to the All Blacks rugby team, James Kerr wrote “Legacy”, about how they manage consistently to lead the world in their sport.   One of his key focus areas is about creating a learning environment – “Leaders are Teachers” he says.  So when we seek to help our leaders make things happen, we need to build a relationship of trust between us and them, so that we can coach them and give them feedback.

For example, in Toastmasters, we create an environment where it is normal for people to be giving each other feedback. We also closely and objectively observe what people are doing and identify what they do well so that it can be reinforced and celebrated. Only then, do we start to provide tips for how they can be more successful in the future.  As we are continuously taking action and continuously receiving feedback, we get better and better at what we do.

Work to strengths, fill the gaps

The third book I would recommend is “Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie.  Their message is that we should stop sucking the energy out of ourselves by trying to fix everything we are not good at.  Instead, let’s work out what we are good at, get really really good at those things, and build teams around us of people who have the other skills we need.

Being a Super Leader

Leading leaders is a lot harder than being a leader on the ground.  We need to not only have developed the skills to do that front line leadership, we also need to be able to support others to do it, without constantly interfering!  That requires great emotional intelligence – the ability to understand and manage ourselves as well as the ability to understand and manage our relationships with others.  To achieve success, let’s lead with authority and create a learning environment.  Let’s work to our own strengths, and the strengths of those we lead.