The Two Types of Leaders

imageThere are two types of leaders in this education work and beyond. The first type is the Why I Can’t type. The second type is the Why Can’t I? type.


The Why I Can’t type will encounter an issue and he will give you a long list of reasons why they can’t be successful. They will blame others. They will see the success that others are having and they will instantly work to discredit it. They’ll look for differences to justify why the other person was successfulthey failed. They will blame others. There’s a victimization there. They NEED your sympathy.
These are leaders that bring you a list of problems with no solutions. And in the rare circumstances where they do take responsibility, it’s in the form of an obligatory primer right before immediately proceeding to name someone far more culpable than they are. They don’t even pause to take a breath. They go nuclear when you ask them to explain their plan or rationale. Blame is his bride and it cheats with failure while only flirting with success.


Then there are the Why Can’t I? leaders. These leaders, when faced with the same types of issues take a different approach. They are never the victim. They ask why can’t I be successful? They say things like, “Why can’t I turn this school around?” They ask these questions with a hint of offense that you would even doubt them to begin with. They build a plan that they see through. They are informed and bold. They are solution seekers. They update their superiors and teammates. When they present issues, they are already on the third step of their plan to eradicate the problem.



When failure happens, they look inward, lick their wounds and see it as the blessing it is – they see it as an opportunity to improve. They fail quickly and learn even quicker. They are offended by mediocrity. Lazy people bother them and they begin coaching them out. They look at them like Michael Jordan looks at a bench warmer that doesn’t work hard in practice.


These leaders are results driven. These leaders are disciplined. Results reign supreme over posturing and grandstanding. They actually use whatever data is available to them to get even better. These leaders taste success and become success junkies – they need another hit. They leaders get in their element and glow! Yes, dammit, they glow. Just like Bruce Leroy and they transform everyone around them. They transform students, faculty, communities, districts and themselves. They are dynamic.More importantly, they fall 9 times and get up 10 times. They are constantly improving.


So which are you? If you are the whack leader, don’t fret, you can change. This is about mindsets. 30% of this is skill, 70% is mindset. When you start by saying this will never work, you’re right. I spend a lot of time with leaders in different types of schools all over the country. I’ve seen greatness and tragedy. It always comes back to mindset.


This isn’t meant to dismiss poverty, lack of resources or external inadequacies. They all exist and for the most part, sadly, they are constants. However, these leaders find success regardless. This isn’t just in the realm of education, it’s in business. It’s in life. You see it in the kid’s eye that’s growing up with death all around yet they seem to have this hyper focus that not many understand.


Leadership is fluid and we all have our good and bad moments. The key is to recognize when you’re being a Why I Can’t leader so you can fix it, asap.


Peace. Cole Out.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: