The Myth of the Unicorn Leader


Present, Charismatic, Caring, Inspirational, Wicked Smart, Empathetic, Understanding, Coaches, Mentor, Strategic Visionary, Honest, Authentic, Respected, Integrous, Vulnerable, Tall, Compassionate, Good communicator,  Wise,  Multiplies, Humorous, Fun, Relaxed, Is my advocate, and Has my back.

What a list!

No this isn’t my list for “The One”. Well, it is in a way. It’s my list of attributes when I think of a Leader.

Want to play?

Imagine for a moment, that you are at a gala filled with important people and everyone is dressed to impress. On stage soon will be the presenter to give the award for "Leader of the Year”. The presenter comes on stage and talks about the requirements for the award and about the many accomplishments of this person. See this person in your mind. Do you see them? Describe them. Who are they? What have they accomplished? Write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t be shy.

When your done, read your list.

What do you think? Seems pretty accurate, right? I’d want all these things in a leader. As a leader, I’d want to be all these things.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

This picture isn’t real! It’s all sunshine and puppy dog tails. It’s only one side. The person on stage, the leader in your mind is a snapshot in time. We aren't seeing the full person. We tend to leave out the bad stuff, the shadow. Without the whole picture, the leader isn't real. Let’s try again.

What’s really true about “Leader of the Year”?

  • They made mistakes. Learned and tried again.
  • They had doubt and learned to overcome it and take action in spite of it.
  • They slept maybe 6 hours a night.
  • Not everyone likes them.
  • They've let people go.
  • They weren’t able to hire all the talent they needed and their team had to work harder.
  • They've behind schedule.
  • Their plan was inaccurate, and they had to work overtime to catch up.
  • Their family has missed them.
  • They didn’t make it to their son's science fair.
  • They have a great executive assistant helping them to run their life at work, and a partner at home.
  • They have a maid.
  • They eat out more than they cook at home.
  • They make sacrifices.
  • They know their priorities and what they value most.
  • Through many tests, they have learned to be resilient and adaptable.
  • They don’t care what you think of them.
  • They invest in other people because they know they can’t do it alone.
  • They invest in their growth.
  • They believe they can.
  • They stand for something and sometimes this won't lead to traditional success.

By stopping and looking at the whole of a leader, we can uncover hidden stories and expectations we put on ourselves and those around us.

What do you expect of your leaders?

What do you expect of yourself?

What is expected of you? It is it real?

I offer two things:

  • Assumptions makes asses of you and me.
  • Expectations are just assumptions.

Let’s get some clarity!

This week have a conversation with your leader and your team. Find out what they need from you and look to you for. Let’s demystify leadership and make it concrete and real. Do some soul searching and honestly look at the whole of who you are, who you want to be and what you want your legacy to be. Let go of the rest! You only have so much time and energy.

Live your purpose, and the rest will be taken care of!


About the Author

Kim-Elisha Proctor is an Executive Coach, teacher, and writer. For over 15 years, she has worked with companies at all stages of growth and understands the complexity of organizations and leadership that is needed for success. Whether one-on-one coaching, with groups or delivering leadership development programs, her passion is the same: to support leaders to enhance their performance, impact, purpose & well-being to create communities they long to belong to.

Kim-ElishaLead Smarter