(Originally posed on DCulberhouse.)

By David Culberhouse

How Do You IGNITE Your Leadership?

Burn your bridges…


Burn your boats…

Two very different ways that leaders create and ignite influence in their organizations and with those they lead.

One leaves you with an isolated feeling, while the other has a collaborative tinge to it.  And so often, leaders have a tendency to fall into one or the other of these two camps.

The burn your bridges leaders are often your self-driven – command and control – my way or the highway types in their approach to leadership.  They see the ‘go it alone’ mentality as a badge of honor for all that they do for their people and organization.


Very aware of title and position.  Power and control hungry.  Actively gathering accolades that focus on them and their work, while at the same time disempowering those they lead.  Creating walls and barriers.  Vacating trust.  Disbanding relationships.

I and Me start the majority of their conversations and comments.  The lack of depth to their leadership eventually shows through as the thin veneer to their character quickly fades and wears off. Leaving those they lead disillusioned and disenchanted.

While, the burn your boats are often your purpose-driven – serve and support leaders – who employ a much more collaborative approach to their leadership.

They are about creating, mentoring, and building up other leaders within the organization.  They focus on supporting and coaching competence towards autonomy.  Titles are often nothing more than access for serving and modeling.  They work towards breaking down the walls and barriers that create isolation.  They recognize and understand that collaboration and teamwork will allow the organization and those within it to flourish.  Trust and relationships are crucial.

Expectations and accountability are just as high, however, they will work and mentor to support others in rising to meet those levels of achievement.  The focus of their conversations is on others and providing them credit and accolades for the work they are doing.  The heavy rotation of We and They highlights their ‘others focused’ mentality.

Eventually we will have to choose what type of leader we are going to be…choose how we will ignite our leadership and influence.  How we will ignite the culture of our organization.

To choose to be all for me, take no names, bridge burners, who come in and carve up and tear apart an organization…before their credibility is used up and their season of leadership expires.  Then moving on to wreak the same havoc upon another unsuspecting organization.

Or choose to be game-changers.  The ones who are willing to not only build up and create the necessary structures for success, but also willing to ignite and burn them down rather than sit back and admire them…if that is what is necessary.

The ones who are willing to sail to unknown shores and set the very ships that got them there ablaze…knowing that sometimes, you have to put all of your cards out on the table.  Willing to lay it all on the line for the organization and those they lead.

They are the ones that press against status-quo, constantly moving their organizations forward for the betterment of those within.  Pushing forward, pulling the present towards the future…leaving little time to admire what has been gained, for there is so much more too accomplish.

In the end, your season of leadership will determine if you…

Burned your bridges…


Burned your boats…

And it come down to this…

What do you want your season of leadership to say about you?


David Culberhouse is an Educator, Co-Moderator West Coast He shares his insights on his website, DCulberhouse. Follow David on Twitter at @DCulberhouse.