The Rite of a Leader

The Manager Was Tied Up... Literally... Till He Learned To Lead

By Susan Ford Collins

It was time for a promotion and Jim was called to his manager's office for a chat. Bob smiled warmly as he congratulated Jim. "You've been successful doing your work so now I am going to promote you to leadership." But what followed next was unexpected. 

Bob pulled a sturdy rope from his top desk drawer and tied Jim’s arms together securely in front of him saying, "Every morning for the next week, I will tie your arms in front of you to remind you that your responsibilities have changed. To get ahead till now, you've relied on your doing. But from now on, you must learn how to rely on others' doing. You must rely on your team. You are becoming a leader.

If your team members don't know what to do, you are responsible for explaining it to them or finding others who can. If they don't have the skills they need, you are responsible for helping them develop those skills or find others who already have them. Whatever your people need, it is your job to provide it. From now on, you will be evaluated on your leadership results and how well you facilitate your team.

As a leader... your team's failures will be your failures;

your team's successes will be your successes;

your team's results will be your results;

your team's creativity will be your creativity. 

That first day was tough! It was busy and the rope clearly held Jim back. Oh how he wished Bob would untie it for an hour or two so he could do the job right and more quickly. But no such luck!

The Rite of a Leader was working! Now Jim could clearly see what Bob had already seen... he had "great doer skills" but "underdeveloped leadership skills." It was frustrating to have to explain in detail what he wanted his people to do. He knew how to do it himself, but he didn't know how to effectively teach it or coach it.

Jim started making changes in his thinking and communication. Day by day Jim's team successes were piling up. By Friday he realized that his successes were being multiplied, not just by hisdoing but by the doing of his whole team. Excited, Jim enthusiastically stepped into into his expandedpower as a leader.

We must each choose to "tie" ourselves to leadership, understanding that it no longer matters that we can do it all by ourselves." The challenge now is... can we do it all together? And how?

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills as well as how and when to use them, read The Joy of Success, Our Children Are Watching or Success Has Gears.

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