Leadership Coaches Are Charlatans

I cringe when I see a promo for a so-called leadership expert. Similar to spreading Tiger Balm on sore muscles, their impact is temporary because they aren’t relatable and often speak with a sense of ‘I know better than you’ – no one likes that. Four or five days after the leadership expert gives his speech to a company, employees are back in the funk they were prior to his arrival.

There’s no such thing as a leadership coach. Leaders live – they don’t preach… and they’re the last people who would ever call themselves a leader.

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Becoming a leader can’t be learned from watching a guy on a hotel conference room stage ramble on, nor from reading another guru book…

And anyone who claims to be a leader most certainly isn’t one, they’re just arrogant. Leadership comes naturally to those who have been in the trenches… it comes from those who have truly lived. I’m talking about the people who have been dealt heavy blows and came out the other side better than ever. Those are real leaders

Anyone who was ‘taught leadership’ is someone I would never bank on when shit hits the fan. And anyone claiming to be a leadership expert is akin to a charlatan selling magic potion to the next desperate sucker.


There are three distinct qualities of a great leader… I call them the Three I’s. To possess them requires an individual to have truly lived life by being studious, adventurous, and self-aware.


The Three I’s of a Great Leader

Intellect: A leader is intelligent and open-minded because they are inherently hungry to learn from others. All great leaders I know have been this way since adolescence.

Learning is a way of life for them, and knowledge is their currency. They’re the first to tell you what they don’t have the answer for, and extremely thoughtful when providing a course of action for others.

Because of their intelligence, leaders enjoy planting themselves in different environments – even uncomfortable ones. Everything is a valuable learning experience for them.

By always showing up, no matter the inconvenience, leaders grow and learn at a rate most can’t fathom.

Strong leadership requires one to be well read, versed in various social situations, and skillful in heated confrontations. You can’t learn to slow the aggressive momentum of opposing forces unless you’ve been in a few tense moments at the bar, in the schoolyard or at the negotiation table. People admire those who can deescalate tense moments. I certainly do.

  • Intellect is acquired through overcoming adversity, reading, a strong sense of self-awareness and mastering the art of listening.


Impact: A true leader chooses his words carefully and speaks with purpose. When one can impact the course of other people’s lives for the positive, through actions or words, which has a domino effect on the community around them, then they’re a real leader.

Leaders are the type of people you can have a casual conversation with and leave more informed. They impact other people’s lives because they’re interesting and insightful.


Influence: A great leader has an amazing ability to convince those around him because he truly believes in his mission. He’s passionate about what he wants to accomplish, and clearly knows his strengths and weaknesses; he’s humble, yet decisive. And he can relate to people of all walks because he hasn’t taken the safe road throughout life. People respect those who’ve charted their own course, failed, fought and got back up to be better than ever. People want to believe they too can be great – and leaders make them realize they can be.


The term leadership is so overused these days – too many pretenders. Yet many leadership gurus are making a fortune selling their magic elixir because people are desperate to find a great person to learn from, and perhaps emulate to a certain degree. It’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s exactly why we need true leaders. Communities, corporations and countries desperately need leadership. Whether you want to improve your neighborhood, the productivity in your organization, or raise venture capital for your startup, strong leadership is required. And the level of your success is a direct reflection of your ability to lead others.

Stay hungry,

Aaron Hoddinott signature


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