How do you define ordinary and extraordinary leadership?

14 March 2024
Ahead of speaking at our Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders Conference in May, Johanna Hooper – Leadership and Change Management Expert from Limitless Peak Performance – shares her views on what makes a good leader.

Think of a leader you admire. What are their attributes? What do they look, speak, sound like? How do they make you feel?

When you thought of that leader, what image came to mind? Captain America? Churchill? Martin Luther King? Elon Musk? Your boss? Someone more local?

Now think about the image you have in your head – would you call them ordinary or extraordinary?

Do we put leadership on a pedestal?

Here’s the thing. I think we can be in danger of putting leadership on something of a pedestal and that can make it hard for us to feel like ‘good’ leaders, or recognise ‘good’ leaders around us.

Did you know, there’s a theory for this? Well, actually there’s a couple:

  • Implicit Leadership Theory says we have preconceived ideas about what a leader is, does, looks like and who they are. And these preconceived ideas are shaped by our experiences and images shared via the media.  No worries there then…..
  • Then there’s the Great Man (!) Theory. It states that ‘heroic’ individuals with certain laudable characteristics (intellect, courage, abilities) naturally emerge as leaders because of their inherent greatness.  I mean, there’s a bunch of aspects to that theory that can make us ordinary folk feel ‘less than’.

With all that external influence as to what makes a ‘good’ leader, is it any wonder that not many of us are in a rush to claim our “Best Leader Ever” badges?

Are you and ordinary or extraordinary leader?

Now mull on this: are you an ordinary or extraordinary leader?

Funny question, huh? Presumably, we might all want to be extraordinary but we might feel that we are *just* ordinary leaders? And if we think we’re *just* ordinary leaders, what is that doing to our performance, mindset, self-esteem?

For my money, it’s time to shake off this notion that you can’t be ordinary and extraordinary at the same time.  Leadership is both a privilege and a responsibility. It comes in many different forms and there is no ‘one size fits all’ model. Great leaders are all around us, even in positions that aren’t technically leadership roles.

When you think of the person who has had the most profound impact on you, are they extraordinary ordinary? Mine was. Not in my command chain, not formally designated as ‘leader’, not heroic, not lauded, but the impact on me was powerful. What impact are you having on the folks around you?”

Want to hear more?

Want to hear more from Johanna? She will be speaking at and facilitating our Ordinary Extraordinary Leaders conference on 22 May at The Pavilions, Harrogate.

Book your place now and discover the leader you could be.

Johanna is a retired Commander who, since leaving the Royal Navy in 2014, has had a career in management consultancy and now runs her own business, working with both small business leaders and executives in larger organisations across public and private sectors.