Good Leaders Don’t Do Everything

Posted by on Sep 25, 2010 in Leadership | 4 Comments

I see a lot of chatter around this general idea:

“Leaders don’t command what they are unwilling to do themselves.”

I understand the sentiment, but when even slightly misinterpreted this mentality does more harm than good.

At its core this thought promotes the myth of the “well-rounded leader.” Problem is, nobody can do everything well.

This idea adheres to the same philosophy that demands executives spend two years in every department in the company on their climb “up.”

I promise you — talented people do not need to spend two years in an area of weakness to appreciate the value of it. What they do need is to get enough exposure to able to speak intelligently about it and communicate that area’s importance, and then they need to be moved as quickly as possible to their area of strength.

If these paths don’t exist, then we need to create more ladders.

The truth is, good leaders assign out a LOT of things they are unwilling to do themselves, because they know that another person can do certain things MUCH better than they can.


Photo by Kelly Kerr.


If you liked that post, then try these…

Why Value Is King & ‘Departments’ Should Die by Josh Allan Dykstra on February 28th, 2011

Productivity Stats by Josh Allan Dykstra on March 5th, 2009

“Your Business Has A Moral Center” On Forbes by Josh Allan Dykstra on November 19th, 2013


  1. Scott Asai
    September 27, 2010

    Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key to efficiency and success. You’re smart to know what you don’t do well so you can find someone else who does it better. Stick to the 1 – 2 things you do really well and you’ll be OK.

  2. Scott Asai
    September 28, 2010

    Leaders are paid to do one, at the most two things really well. Beyond that, they should be delegating. There are no supermen or superwomen out there, that’s a myth. A true measurement of your self-awareness is knowing what you do well and what you don’t do well. As you mature with your own self-leadership your focus becomes narrower, not wider.

    • Josh Allan Dykstra
      September 29, 2010

      Well said, Scott.

      I would also add that the best leaders know EXACTLY what those one or two things are they do well — that also truly create value — then they find ways to put them to work.

      First they identify, and then they carve out a path for themselves, slowly doing more of those things.

      Oprah is a great example of this — no one “gave” Oprah her job. She created it, slowly, laboriously, sculpting her niche path to where she gets to do things she does well (and that people pay her for) almost all the time.

  3. Great Career Advice: Good Leaders Don’t Do Everything | The Savvy Intern by YouTern
    June 3, 2012

    […] Designing An Organization That Doesn’t Suck”, will be released in early 2012. Connect with him online. Follow Josh on […]


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