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Are you a true leader, or a director / manager?

I was listening to Dean Graziosi chatting with Jesse Eker on Dean’s podcast a few days ago and something Jesse said about leadership really resonated with me, “Leadership is not about what you say, it’s about what you do.”

After all, Jesse should have a good idea of what business leadership’s about, despite being so young – he’s been an entrepreneur since shortly after completing university about a decade ago, launching his father’s brand and taking it to over $4 million in 2 years – a success he’s replicated with his own brand which he launched 3 years ago. And today, he’s also head of marketing for Tony Robbins, a renowned figure involved in more than 100 privately-held businesses that collectively generate over $7 billion annually.

As Jesse said, as a leader, people need to feel you have their back, and he went on to say, “leadership is about being a role model in showcasing the direction, not just giving direction.”

This really underscores the difference between someone who’s a true leader, and someone who simply directs, or manages, people. True leaders are the driving force behind exceptional companies – businesses that experience accelerated growth, increased profitability, and enhanced overall value. True leaders inspire their teams to reach new heights and create a positive impact.

Leadership is about action, not just words or, as Adam Contos said, “Leading isn’t a position; it’s an action.”

So, what does this mean in reality?

Setting a good example: your people are watching you, so make sure that you behave in the way you would want others to behave, being consistent with the values and behaviours that you expect.

Walking the talk: it’s really not a case of just “do as I say” but living what you say you believe in, and being willing to stand up for this, even when it’s difficult.

Being consistent: your actions need to be consistent with your words. If you say that you value honesty, for example (and every leader should!), then you need to be honest in your dealings with others.

Being willing to sacrifice: leadership often requires sacrifice. You may need to give up your time, your comfort, or even your own personal needs in order to lead effectively. It really is about going the extra mile, even when you don’t have to.

Leading by action builds trust and credibility with your people – when they see you’re putting your words into action, they are more likely to trust you and follow your lead.

It inspires others to take action, creating a ripple effect of positive change.

And, of course, leading by action will help you achieve your goals, as taking action enables you to overcome obstacles and reach your goals.

Just think about some of the well-known business leaders who are recognised for their leadership style:

  • Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group) – known for his approachable and charismatic style, this well-respected leader encourages an open and inclusive work environment and emphasises the importance of employee satisfaction, continuous education and work-life balance.
  • Indra Nooyi (Former CEO of PepsiCo – is admired for her inclusive leadership style and commitment to sustainability and diversity. She actively engaged with employees at all levels, promoting collaboration and fostering a sense of purpose, while her focus on long-term strategy and purpose-driven leadership made her highly respected by all.
  • Tony Hsieh (Former CEO of Zappos) – known for his commitment to company culture and customer service, he believed in creating a positive work environment where employees feel empowered and supported. His emphasis on happiness and building strong relationships with employees made him a revered leader within Zappos and beyond.
  • Ginni Rometty (Former CEO of IBM) – is recognised for her transformational leadership style and her efforts to drive innovation within IBM, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and encouraging her employees to embrace new technologies and adapt to change. This collaborative and visionary leadership approach made her highly regarded by many within the business world.

The common thread running through all these leaders is a commitment to treating their people well, leading by example and promoting a positive and strong company culture.


The quote “Leadership is not about what you say, it’s about what you do” is a powerful reminder that true leadership is about a lot more than just giving orders. It’s about setting an example, walking the talk, and consistently demonstrating the values and behaviours that you want to see throughout your business.

A true leader must be willing to put words into action and so build trust and credibility with your people, inspire others to take action, too, and greatly increase the likelihood of achieving your goals.

How does your leadership team measure up?


If you’d like to read further, these related posts might be of interest:

“The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been.” – Henry Kissinger

“Leading isn’t a position; it’s an action.” – Adam Contos

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“Excellence is Not a Skill. It is an Attitude.” – Ralph Marston

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