Fortune Magazine’s latest issue on ‘How to Build Great Leaders’ is an anemic, less than insightful view what it takes to be a great leader (magazine woes and thinner issues are having an impact on Fortune’s overall quality).

The cover picture though, seems quite insightful.

The picture of 1) a male 2) with an empty head 3) made of bricks 4) wearing a white shirt 5) and tie 6) dressed in a blue suit jacket is a depressing (and perhaps too realistic?) vision of leadership excellence.

And it’s an interesting juxtaposition to Fortune’s previous cover picture – of Steve Jobs – Fortune’s CEO of the Decade.

Here’s my ode to white-shirted, empty headers who will never be great leaders.

You’re not a leader if you don’t have any followers.
Do you get that?

They can give you every title in the book – CEO, COO, CFO, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer – it DOESN’T MATTER. If the people you’re supposed to be leading think you’re an ass – you’re not they’re leader.

You’re their whipping boy.


This isn’t about you.

This is about them.

This is about them trusting you. Them respecting you. Them looking up to you.

This is about them feeling like you listen. Them feeling like you care. Them feeling like you think they are capable. And smart.


And human.

This is about them thinking you are good at your job. Them seeing you take your role as seriously as they take theirs. Them knowing you care about the organization.

Not just about yourself.



You need to change.

Drop the ego and stop talking.

Stop being so f’ing smart.

Start learning. Start listening.

Start being nice.

Go for a beer. A lunch. Grab a coffee.

Ask about the kids. The gym. The vacation.

And start doing your job. Otherwise. You’ll never be their leader.