Make Sure You’re Stepping Forward, Not On

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Working with organizations you meet all kinds of people. There are those who step forward with genuine interest to help and learn—and then there are those whose idea of moving forward is to step over others.

You might not recognize these people at first, because they like to talk about being of service and make a show of being obliging. But their actual agenda has nothing to do with helping anyone but with covering up the limitations of their leadership.

Here are some signs of those who are busy stepping on while they move forward.

They align themselves with others because they feel alone. They like to think that if they align themselves with leaders, that makes them leaders too. But of course it doesn’t really work that way. A true leader has merits and an inner moral compass that is reflected in everything they do. True leadership is a direct reflection of character.

They take credit because they have not accomplished much on their own. We’ve all seen it happen—a team works with intelligence, imagination, and hard work, and the person at the top of the organization takes the credit. A true leader knows in their heart that anything worthwhile is done with others, and that success is shared.

They talk like leaders because they’re trying to fake it till they make it. They may be gifted writers or speakers—but when it comes to leadership in the trenches, they wouldn’t know the first thing to do. True leaders are created in the situations that are difficult—where challenges need solutions, where problems need vision—not with words.

They grab the limelight because their corner is always dark. There’s a need for attention and deferential behavior that’s grounded in a deep need to be noticed. True leaders have a light shine on them organically. They don’t chase the light or grab it—it comes to them naturally through their enthusiasm and spirit.

If your actions are about contribution to the well-being of those you come in contact with and you are a positive force, you’re a true leader.

But if your actions are only about your own personal security and benefit at the cost of others, you’re a leader who is stepping forward while stepping on people. While you may get what you want in the short run. In the long run, character and true leadership build an enduring legacy.

Lead From Within: True leaders do not focus on their own edification and glory but on helping others to succeed. They don’t need to compensate for their limitations but instead work to overcome them.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Panteli Tritchew

    02. Jun, 2015

    Unfortunately, we all know people who have an insatiable need for recognition and who “grab the limelight because their corner is always dark.”

    In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there is a realm of being called “hungry ghosts” who are depicted with huge mouths and bellies, who are always eating, but never satisfied. They try to compensate the emptiness of their souls and spirits with the material world.

    We need not go to Tibet to find Hungry Ghosts. 😉

    Great post, Lolly.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Susan Mary Malone

    02. Jun, 2015

    Today’s world of social promotion fosters that grabbing “the limelight because their corner is always dark” too. We see this so often in my world (publishing), where new authors pull the ladder up behind them, taking all the glory for themselves. Some of us are working to change that and actually help new writers 🙂
    But I love this. Great post, Lolly. And Panteli–I LOVE the hungry ghosts metaphor! Thank you as well.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Duncan M.

    05. Jun, 2015

    Just like you said, there are people who would do anything to be on top, no matter the consequences. You can see them everywhere, talking and acting like they have the best intentions. We all had to deal with such characters and at some point believed in their well-chosen words. However, a true leader motivates you, helps you learn from your mistakes and supports you not only when everything works fine, but also when the situation gets overwhelming. These are the people that we need to keep nearby.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Greg

    06. Jun, 2015

    Lolly, just a quick note for the great posts. Time and time again I have gleaned valuable insights from your blog. I just subscribed to your blog.

    Keep up the great work!


    Reply to this comment
  5. Jacqueline

    10. Jun, 2015

    Great post! I continue to sharpen my leadership skills from your amazing insight,

    Reply to this comment
  6. Linda

    23. Jul, 2015

    An important lesson for all leaders and intending leaders. We are talking about leaders not rulers. Rulers force people to follow them while leaders are voluntarily followed. It all lies in the attitude. Nice work.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Laurent

    09. Nov, 2015

    Funny, this perfectly resumes the debate I had yesterday with my father where I tried to explain the difference between a leader and a dictator and the steps they take to become one or the other.
    Thank you for this post, which again confirms my beliefs and adds a few more arrows to my quiver.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Laura

    10. Nov, 2015

    Great post Lolly…inspired by your insight to leadership and the skills it takes to be a good one. Also love the Tibetan comment from Panteli. Thanks for sharing

    Reply to this comment
  9. Katie Bailey

    25. Jun, 2019

    Great post Lolly. I read your blog often and you always provide new insights to help me be a better leader. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment

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