Leading From The Centre

Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD
6 min readJan 19, 2022


Photography by Timon Studler on Unsplash.com

Worthy leadership is the most critical determinant of competitiveness and, therefore, the success of your business. Everything flows from leadership but note the emphasis on ‘worthy’. Businesses don’t fail; their leaders do. Therefore, the ceiling to the success of your business lies in your leadership team’s level of worthiness, with the lowest dominator setting that ceiling. That is, your weakest leader sets the limit to your success.

Over this season of December 2021 and January 2022, we are taking time out from our usual weekly newsletters and focusing in on the theme of Achievement. In this four-part series, I hope to be able to raise points for reflection that will enable greater achievement in your life, leadership and business.

Active Knowledge Question:

What standard do you set for leadership in your business?

There Are Many Leaders

Leaders exist throughout, and at all levels, of your business, both formally appointed and those that are seen as informal leaders. There may be many leaders in your business presently but possibly few who are ‘worthy’, and this is where change must occur.

A physics of leadership underpins a business’s performance and is best represented by considering the dynamics, strength, and nature of leadership. Therefore, every leader must understand these physics and work in unison with it to maximise their leadership effectiveness.


Businesses are a community of people. Communities seek out and are drawn to leaders. This dynamic gives rise to a centripetal force and, what I, refer to, as centripetal leadership.

Centripetal describes a force that acts on a body moving in a circular path and directs it towards the centre around which it is moving. I find that communities, as they are formed, are drawn together in a similar way and naturally look to their centre for leadership and form around that leader. The centripetal principle provides a rich framework through which to consider worthy leadership.

As a leader, you reside at the centre of the community seeking to draw everyone into your centre in a unified and organised way. You do not sit on top of a pyramid, with everyone stacked below you and looking up to you for instructions. You sit at the centre with everyone looking in.

In business, we tend to think of leadership as being embedded with authority. ‘I am the leader and, therefore, you will obey’. It is the pyramid structure with everyone seeking to climb higher. But leadership based on ‘You must obey me as I have the power over you’, is the weakest form of leadership. In fact, you would not even call it leadership. You would only call it ‘authority’, at best, and such authority is not going to yield much competitive strength.

So, the first aspect of the physics is that leaders are at the centre of a crowd, not on the top of a pyramid. I deliberately use the word ‘crowd’ as that crowd will only become coherent through your leadership. It is not a given.


The second aspect, as with all forms of energy, is that your leadership strength is finite. There will come a distance, from the centre, at which its influence will have weakened so much it will be almost ineffective. Again, don’t think of yourself as sitting at the top passing your instructions down to the bottom. That is not leadership.

Think of it this way, extend your arm as far as you can, once it reaches its limits you need someone else to extend your reach. Leadership is the same. There will come a point at which the distance from the centre is so great that you need to appoint another leader to extend your leadership strength.

This second aspect is important because if you don’t appoint another leader — or even worse still, appoint an unworthy leader — then your ability to lead will be restricted, and possibly undermined.


The third and final aspect of leadership is its nature. The quintessential role of the worthy leader is to achieve harmony within their field of influence as it is only through harmony that competitiveness may flourish.

The strength of competitiveness is determined by the strength of harmony. Harmony is achieved by following the right path. The right path refers to the actions of leaders, which arises out of their character. The competitive engine creates the framework to guide leaders along the right path.

A worthy leader is not determined by the technical competencies they possess but by their personal strengths and weaknesses. It is the quality of character that businesses must seek in their leaders. It is the quality of character that will determine the strength of harmony and competitiveness. We will explore the qualities sought below in ‘traits of a worthy leader’.

The ability of a leader to activate the centripetal force underpinning anyone’s leadership turns upon their character, which is reflected through their motive in being a leader. The right motive will lead to the right outcomes; the wrong motive simply generates all the wrong outcomes.

Traits of A Worthy Leader

A worthy leader is not determined by the technical competencies they possess but by their personal strengths and weaknesses. It starts with humility and gratitude and grows out from this core.

It is the quality of character that businesses must seek in their leaders. It is the quality of character that will determine the strength of harmony and competitiveness. In addition to humility and an attitude of gratitude, there are strengths in character that should be sought and weaknesses that should be avoided at all costs.

The strengths to seek in a leader are:

  • Courage to act and take the risks to enable the business to achieve its goals.
  • Discipline to enforce rules within the business in pursuit of purpose, vision, and culture.
  • Sincerity and humanity so that everyone in the business knows that you are authentic, committed to the purpose and vision of the business, and that you will support and reward them for their efforts and understand their needs as people.
  • Wisdom to enable you to quickly recognise circumstances in the business environment and lead necessary change expediently.

Leaders who exhibit the following weaknesses should be avoided:

  • Cowardice will only lead to lost opportunities. A leader who is scared of failure will not be able to lead a business through change.
  • False pride is readily manipulated by a competitor and reflects those who will quickly place their own wellbeing, image, and feelings above that of the business.
  • Impulsiveness can be provoked into rage, negates wisdom, and reflects someone who can be easily exploited and led.
  • Recklessness will only destroy a business and is often found in bravado and overconfidence. Courage must be moderated by wisdom.
  • Weak compassion which leads to a relaxing of the need for strict conduct and compliance with purpose, vision, and culture, and a weakening of competitiveness.

The physics of leadership dictate that you should lead, as follows:

  • ‘I am at the centre of my community.’
  • ‘I must appoint other worthy leaders to extend the influence of my leadership as the community grows.’
  • ‘My role is to achieve harmony, a harmony that will underpin performance.’
  • ‘All of the above will arise from my character as a person, which will be reflected through my motive.’

It must be remembered that when it comes to competitiveness, the key relationship a leader has is with their employees — not their shareholders, bankers, creditors or other stakeholders. Their prime responsibility is to their employees and it is against this relationship that the measures of trust, loyalty, and the like are made.

This is why character is so important in leadership and far more important than qualifications and experience.

The content of this article was taken from my guide, ‘Compete — An Entirely New Level Of Performance’.


An entirely new level of performance.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel



Dr Richard Shrapnel PhD

Business Strategist, Writer, Speaker