Travel Agent vs Tour Guide Type of Leaders

After the summer this reflection question from John C. Maxwell related to the 5 levels of leadership is pretty relevant: Are you a travel agent type of leader or a tour guide type of leader?

What is the difference between the two?

Travel agent type of leaders are sending people where they never been themselves. They are maybe good in creating a vision of the future and selling the future but they don’t go on the journey themselves. They don’t know what it is like to be there, to get there.

Tour guide type of leaders are taking people with themselves to new destinations. ‘This is the area where I have been, or I may have not been but follow me, come along with me, let’s experience it together.’ You model what you want to see in your people.

Travel agent type of leaders think if they don’t move only stand firmly and confidently on the side-line with the megaphone and constantly keep telling people where to go and what to do, what to experience is enough.

They are utterly mistaken!

Real Leaders, Real Transformational Leaders are tour guide type of leaders. They are on a transformational journey as well. They don’t lead from the side-line. They lead from inside out. They don’t outsource the change process, the transformation to others (HR, L&D, middle management, external consultants).

They start the transformation with themselves. They showcase the change; they are ahead of the rest of the organisation on the transformation journey. They are not afraid of getting messy with change. Because change and transformation are messy indeed. They roll up their sleeves and dig deep in the change and transformation, particularly in their own change and transformation. They are not only ready to get muddy but share their experience, and their learning.

“We attract who we are, not who we want” John C. Maxwell

Who you are as a leader is who you attract into your team. This is true through and through for the transformational leader as well.

This is the very least about learning about effective change management, it is about becoming a transformational leader and constantly transform your organisation, because that is going to be the future.

  • How does your own transformational journey look like?
  • How do you strategize differently in this very turbulent and volatile business environment?
  • How do you lead through uncertainty and ambiguity?
  • What have been learning about yourself as a leader since February 2020?
  • How do you intend to renew yourself in order to fit for the future? Remember if you don’t do it, if you don’t learn how to do it sooner or later you will be out of the game!


Source: The 5 Levels of Leadership by John. C. Maxwell

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