Can You Concoct A Leader?

Are leaders born or made?

This is an age-old question that oscillates between nurture and nature, biology and environment.concoctleader

Are some people “born leaders”, while others are not? Is leadership something that can be learned?

If we look at leadership like a chemistry experiment, what are the properties and qualities that must interact combine and change in order for true leadership to be exhibited?

My periodic table for leadership includes:


In the words of Lao Tzu, “let the people think they came to that conclusion themselves.” If someone demands the spotlight, they will most certainly get it. But I believe that leading with quiet dignity and humility, and allowing others to shine, is a key to leadership. I’ve often said, when I’ve spearheaded a program or project, I hope ten people want my “job” and no one remembers my name when I’m gone. My role is to become dispensable, not indispensable. Hurts like hades sometimes, but it means you’ve left a system, process or product in place that has longevity beyond you and your involvement.

Lighting the candle within

Those who know me know that one of my taglines is: “People are candles to be lit, not vessels to be filled.” This comes from my Olympic coaching days, when I saw the potential and passion of my athletes, sometimes more so than they saw in themselves. My role as a coach and leader is to fan the flames and spark the ignition in others. We’re not responsible for others’ successes: people do that for themselves. But we can catalyze, support, nurture, guide, inform, educate and cheerlead them on their journey.


And by that I mean listen more than we speak. We were given two ears and one mouth to listen twice as much as we speak. And it’s vital to listen with the intention of understanding, not responding.


Love oneself and love the people you work and interact with. Smile. Walk with a pep in your step and a positive outlook on life. For every problem there is more than one solution, and the person who loves life will strive always to find a way…or ways. Self-care and self-love are so important to leadership, and I don’t mean in an egocentric, ego-driven, vain way. I believe if you don’t love yourself, you cannot possibly be the best you can be: for yourself and for others.

Mistakes are teachers

but make that particular mistake only once. We learn far more from our mistakes than from the things we do correctly. A good leader encourages mistakes, but a particular mistake should not be repeated. If it is, it means that no learning occurred. A leader helps someone to see the lesson in the error, and does not use the mistake as a faultfinding, blame-gaming opportunity to berate another.

Tells others what needs to be done, not how to do it

A good leader does not micromanage. Otherwise, why have someone else do the job? I believe a leader’s role is to empower, support and encourage others to find the ways and means to achieve a goal or outcome. Allow them to find the path(s) to results. I ascribe to the “tell me what you want done, and then let me do it” school of thought.

Open-mindedness, lifelong learning, and willingness to grow, change and innovate

No one on the planet has it “all figured out”. And even when we think we might, there is always room for Kaizen: the relentless pursuit of finding a better way. I believe strong leaders are students of life, always seeking, searching, pursuing and learning new things and new ways. Learning from others. Learning from themselves. And I’ll end with…Having fun, enjoying life and being mindful – There is only this moment and then poof!…it’s gone. Life’s too short to drink bad wine. Life’s too short not to be enjoyed. Enjoy

Kaarina Dillabough

Kaarina Dillabough

Business Life Coach at Decide2Do
Kaarina is a business/life coach living in Ontario. For over 25 years her high-voltage energy, expertise and experience has inspired those she has worked with to reach beyond their grasp, to attain great things in business and in life. A former Olympic sports colour commentator and coach, Kaarina parlayed her coaching skills from the gym floor to the boardroom, working with business owners to improve their profitability and prosperity. In doing so, she has seen people grow both personally and professionally. Kaarina is known as an inspiring motivational speaker in areas such as branding, marketing, business growth strategies, and personal growth and prosperity. She is a passionate, seasoned coach and accountability partner with a proven track record, who loves nothing more than helping people achieve their goals in business and in life.
Kaarina Dillabough
Kaarina Dillabough




  • April 17, 2014

    Carey Green

    Listen more than we speak… powerful.

  • April 17, 2014


    Carey Green  Thanks Carey 🙂

  • April 17, 2014


    How grand. My personal favorite and the one I am relentless in both myself and passing along to others is that mistakes are COOL! Sheesh. We MUST be willing to make the mistake if we intend to grow and reach our goals. The absolute key is not making the same one twice- I kinda lean towards if you make it (the same mistake) twice- it is not a mistake- it is a choice. I also believe very strongly in talking about and owning our mistakes with others- not only does it help our own minds solidify what was wrong- but it could very well help others not to make the same one. Thank you for a great post.

  • April 17, 2014


    AlaskaChickBlog  Wise words my friend “if you make it twice – it is not a mistake – it is a choice.” That’s brilliant. Maybe I can paraphrase it and use your words this way…”When you make the same mistake twice, the second time isn’t a mistake…it’s a choice…and it’s the wrong one.” 🙂 Cheers! Kaarina

  • April 17, 2014


    KDillabough I have to admit- it wasn’t my own words- I read it a while back on a card at Pinterest, but I loved it instantly because that is exactly my own thought!