Personal Development

Leader or Ringleader?

Several years ago, Paola Schifino, principal at Florida-based advertising and branding agency Schifino Lee, told me a ringleaderstory about her daughter’s soccer team I’ll never forget.   Turns out, there was a girl who wasn’t very happy with the way the coach was leading the team.  This girl shared her feelings with her teammates in an effort to build support for her point of view, which then triggered a groundswell of negativity.   Upon learning what was happening, Paola gently offered the girl a piece of advice.  She said, “Be a leader not a ringleader!”  Wow, I thought!

During the course of my life, I’m not sure I can recall hearing a sentence that was so short, yet communicated so much.   We’ve all come across these people in all walks of life, right?  We’ve probably been that person at some point or another during our careers.   It’s a brilliantly succinct way to illustrate the difference between supporting our leaders and strengthening our teams, and undermining everything everyone is working for.  As peers, we have enormous power when it comes to influencing those around us.   If you ever catch yourself being the ringleader, remember this story.  Then ask yourself what you can do to be a real leader!


Category: Personal Development

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Avatar About the Author: Leo Bottary

Leo J. Bottary is an adjunct professor for two of Seton Hall University's graduate level programs in strategic communication and leadership.  Leo has enjoyed a 25-year career counseling leaders in the areas of strategic comm…

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  1. Katherine Kawamoto

    November 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Thanks for sharing the story. You hit on a topic I’ve been thinking about lately. As a society we are becoming more tolerant of ringleaders and it seems we enjoy the piling on of negativity and criticism of others. Social media has become a pastime for haters who spew vicious comments and those who attempt to dispute them get attacked for their opposing views. Ringleaders are all around us: on the soccer fields as you point out, in the churches, businesses, schools and so on. At a time when we so desperately need real leaders, few are visible and those who stick their necks out are often maligned. You might say it comes with the territory and to some extent that is true. I sense though a darker more insidious undercurrent of fear and hatred that is surfacing where it was previously hidden. A leader today needs a new type of armor to withstand the bullets and missiles being shot their way.

    • Debbie Hatch

      November 7, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Thank you for your comments, Katherine!

  2. Katherine, I think you’ve really hit one something here. Part of understanding leadership is knowing how to be a good follower.

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