The Real Art of Leadership by Nick Roud,

by | Feb 8, 2021

Leadership, too so many people around the world the very thought of being a leader is something they must do. They may well have had such an impressive boss that has given them the initial glimpse into great leadership. They may have experienced a manager who just bullied their way and this has given them the taste of how not to lead and given the opportunity they won’t be following in those footsteps.  To others it’s a sign of ‘I’ve made it’. To others it’s a battle to embrace (why me, why did I choose to do this, am I good enough). To others it’s somethings they would never wish to do. 

If you are reading this blog today chances are you are either a leader or looking to move into a leadership position. Welcome on in. 

Each week I write a blog focusing in on leadership and careers. I started this back in September 2016 and I am so grateful for the wonderful messages of support I get from all around the world.

Today’s blog we delve into the real art of leadership and bring to life some real life examples, as you take your time to read our blog think about yourself, how are you leading your teams, where are you really showing up, what are your current daily behaviours looking like and how might these keep progressing forwards?

A famous person once said The beauty of Art can only be seen through the eyes of the beholder (or words to that effect), as a coach I am privileged to personally sit alongside world class leaders as well as those future leaders who have been identified by their organisation to take on a bigger role in the future. As their coach, one of the expectations I put on myself in the coaching work I do is to hold the mirror up for them, to open up their eyes to how they are leading and the perception from others on how they lead. It goes without saying but fundamentally that in my experience the really great leaders are the ones who look deep inside themselves to unlock their massive potential.  

Leadership is not a soft skill – it’s a hard skill and it takes daily attention. Leadership is not for everyone and nor should it be. Our world is crying out for authentic leaders, those professionals who are able to unite people and encourage them forwards. Those who are not afraid to lead from the very front and back those who work with them. 

Whatever stage you may find yourself at with your own leadership development I truly hope you find value from today’s blog and it inspires you to take ‘action’. Thanks, 

2021, The role of a leader may well still be a bit unknown but a great place for us to start to understand more about a The Art of Leadership is to consider this key note question

What are some of hidden characteristics and qualities that take good leadership to great leadership? 

How would you score yourself on each of the following? 1-5 (1 = Needs a great deal of work  5 = I am extremely competent)

  • Empathy

  • Integrity

  • Self-awareness

  • Gratitude

  • Learning ‘ability’ being coachable.

  • Ability to let go / delegate

  • Influence

  • Share your failings / learnings

  • Give everything away so those around you grow

    • I also like to include one final thought and something many of my clients struggle with. Having the courage to appreciate when ‘enough is enough’. (more on this later)

As part of my leadership coaching work that I do with CEOs, Senior Executives, Leaders and High Potential Leaders is something called ‘shadowing’. 

Shadowing is an extremely results focused part of the coaching work I do, It will ensure my clients are fully aware and armed with this full picture insight, the learnings and progress made is life changing. Once each shadowing session has taken place an action plan/work on is created. This work allows the person to truly develop a more ‘natural’ way of leadership.  Shadowing sessions will take place over a 12 month executive coaching program and typically done within the first few weeks of our work together, then at around the 6 month mark and again one month prior to the end of our coaching engagement. Not one client who has worked with me have not found this part of the coaching programme a real benefit. 

My job during these shadowing meetings is simple to observe, to be fully present, to really listen to both the spoken words and the unspoken words, to note the body language, the mood of the room and take as many notes away so I can share these with my client. Just out of interest I also do the same little score as mentioned above. 

We take a great deal from these and more importantly my client gets to understand so much more – these are tied in with the self-leadership assessments, the 360 assessments and the other specific work they do.  Clients feed back to me that these shadowing meetings are real……..ah/ha moments. 

I ask them the day after these shadowing meetings to self-score themselves and write a short brain dump on how they felt the meetings went……..we then sit together and share both our thoughts, insights and scores. 

Leadership is about being aware, then maturing, but, fundamentally great leadership is remaining true to yourself. Learning the art of great leadership takes humility, the ability to be vulnerable and above all open to constructive feedback.  

Great Leaders hold out their hands so others may succeed.

Great Leaders hold out their hands so others may succeed.

No one has the right to be a leader, and so many of my coaching friends around the world have very different views on are leaders ‘born’ or ‘made’………..(what do you think are leaders born or made)? Leave your comments below I am really keen to understand your thoughts, thanks. 

Great leaders of today and for that fact those leaders of the past have suffered more pain than any normal person would want to suffer. 

·      Every day the spot light is on them, 

·      The focus never lightens

·      The sheer volume of decisions that have to be made are expected. 

·      The buck stops with you

o   In many situations you will find yourself wrong, and the ability to own this will set you apart from those who choose to throw others under the bus. 

o   Mistakes happen at any level, own up, take action and ensure you are communicating why! 

o   Sometime the information you need to be able to make a formed decision is not always clear or to hand, the art of great leadership in my humble view and through coaching so many outstanding leaders is they have that gut intuition, the street smarts, the ’scratches on their backs’ to appreciate how and when the right decisions is needed. 

o   Like many good things in life these take time and cannot be rushed. 

Recently I was walking alongside a CEO client, we had just completed our 2nd shadowing session’. He had been working with me and really throwing himself into our coaching work. A successful global CEO who by all accounts was in his pure prime. But today was a bit different, he had just come from a press ‘hammering’ and I could sense he was on the edge and very close to losing his s..t. I ushered him into a nearby meeting room and grabbed some water, the board meeting was going to be as ‘hostile’ if not more than the room he had just come from and now was the time he needed to be back in the zone! 

As your coach one of my jobs is to hold the mirror up for you!

As your coach one of my jobs is to hold the mirror up for you!

As we sat there I looked at him and the red mist was rising above him, I could tell he was furious on how he had handled the press room (but that was now in the past) the next meeting was due to start in 10mins and he needed to get himself ‘back in the room’. I remember asked him two very specific questions that we had been working on for some time.

1)    Why did you take on this CEO gig?

2)    What is your purpose? 

His response showed me that he was straight back in the zone, we finished our water and heading into the Board room. 

Later that evening at dinner we were recapping some of his take away from the day and he made the point of raising the ‘waiting room’ conversation. He thanked me for not asking questions about how was he feeling or how did he think that went………he thanked me for bringing back clarity on his ‘why’ and he said it really allowed him to forget everything that he could not control and only focus on what he can control. 

Great leadership is very much about ‘controlling-what-you-can-control’

Some other things to consider / take note or that I am keen to share with you today, maybe you can put some though into these and look to step forwards tomorrow and action them…….

Great leaders 

·       provide a safe place to think and share thoughts. 

·       empower others to do…………

·       participate

·       Set the tone

·       facilitate others and help them grow 

·       learn every day 

·       are not afraid or to pick up the broom and sweep the room after a meeting! 

Let me know how you progress with these, I am keen to understand and hear from you, thanks. 

Many of my coaching clients particular those highly driven/high achievers have since their early childhood wanted more, they are not happy to settle, they will always look at the next mountain when they are half way up the current mountain and dream about what it would be like to stand on top of that other mountain. I liken this to the never ending quest! 

Does that sound familiar to you as you read our blog today? Are you always looking for that next mountain to climb? 

Great leaders appreciate ‘when enough is enough’!

When I am coaching CEOs, Senior Executives, Leaders and Future leaders we follow a tight structured process, it is my experience as a coach that great leaders enjoy focus, if not we will both quickly get off course and topic (but that is the fun of coaching leaders) they want to keep pushing the boundaries 

Great leaders are not afraid to fail, this is some of their best learnings!

So, as we wrap up todays blog on The Art of Leadership what are some of the things working right now for you well, and what are some of the specific areas you may want to spend time on developing? Let me know, I am keen to understand, to help and to partner those leaders who are good but want to be ‘great’

If you are looking to improve yourself as a leader I encourage you to get in touch with me and discuss our globally accredited executive and leadership coaching programs.

Look after yourself and each other

Nick | Executive Coach


Awarded Best Executive Coaching Consultancy New Zealand at the 2020 Asia Pacific Business Awards

#3 Master Certified Executive Coach in the World on Intelligent Leadership (IL) Executive Coaching

Coaches on the EMBA & MBA programme at one of New Zealand’s most prestigious universities

Roud Career Coaching is a service provider on Leadership for the Regional Business Partner Network (RBPN)


For a confidential conversation about your leadership coaching needs, call Nick on +6421375630 or email him

Nick Roud

Nick Roud

Executive Leadership Coach

Nick is the Chairman of Nick Roud Coaching and a Global Award Winning Executive Coach. Nick holds the highest coaching qualification MCEC. His clients are typically Chief Executive Officers, Executives and Emerging Leaders. Nick’s office is based in Auckland, New Zealand and he travels extensively around the world to coach his clients. You can contact Nick directly on +6421375630