Berger Leadership Blog

Sep 24, 2021 by B. Dan Berger

How We Really Learn to Lead

danAlthough some may believe that leadership only sprouts from long-term experience in an industry, true leadership can be like riding a bike – through observation, training, and experimentation.

In a recent post on Dan Rockwell’s Leadership Freak blog, he recognizes three models that leaders can use to truly learn how to lead others: the imitation, admiration, and negative models.


In Rockwell’s words, “Imitation makes growth easy.” By using others as models for your own leadership growth, you will be able to utilize previous trials and errors to quickly make changes and lead successfully. By analyzing others and learning through imitation, you may recognize that individuals may model qualities that you will want to utilize when leading a team – which leads to Rockwell’s next point, admiration.


You become like the people you admire. Not a carbon copy, of course, but more so a combination of the important leaders from your life. Rockwell mentions that a secret to becoming the leader you aspire to be is by admiring the right leaders. Through previous managers, coaches, and elders, explore your past and pick specific qualities from those individuals that you truly admired to help craft your own individual leadership style.

Negative models

Now that you have a list of qualities and individuals that you admire and wish to imitate, time to do the opposite. What qualities are you not a fan of? As a leader, it’s just as important to highlight the qualities that you dislike with those that you do. In Rockwell’s words, “Reacting against bad is a delightful way to discover the good.”

In conclusion, as leaders we are always searching to embody the best possible example for those in our organizations. It’s always beneficial to come back to the ground rules and write out the qualities and values we want to uphold as leaders, and those we do not.

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