You've seen them - buttoned up and squeezed into that blue suit uniform - men and women at networking functions, business lunches, board rooms, and the ubiquitous blue suit conference.

It's a sea of uniformity, stoic observation of tradition and formality, toeing the party line, maintaining status quo.

It's stifling, restrictive, limiting, and...bloody boring.

However there is something comforting in the 'blue suit' paradigm: you belong to a tribe.

But following the tribe blindly can lead you into all sorts of trouble.

Think Global Financial Crisis. Think Zimbabwe. Think Holocaust.

Now these extreme examples may seem to be outside the usual small business experience, but I assure you, Blue Suit Leadership is alive and well in business and it's killing your potential.

There are three alternatives to amorphous 'blue suit' leadership:

1. "Backpack Leadership"

This is the tribe that doesn't settle for the same old, same old, but look on every every situation as a new challenge with unknown horizons to explore. Enthusiasm abounds and 'Tally ho' and 'you beauty' are their rallying cry.

Their conversation is dominated by questions such as:
"What would happen if we tried..."
"How do we want it to look like?"
"If we had ten million dollars to play with right now what would we do with it?"
"What does our [inner/values] compass say about which way to go?"

2. "Board Shorts Leadership"

This tribe sees their job as a vocation: they are passionate and fun-loving. They find a way to make every task a delight. Enjoyment and satisfaction in the process are primary considerations.

And because everyone is having fun, they feel valued, are loyal to the group and its vision, and are significant contributors to the prosperity of the business.

They ask questions like,
"How can we make this a better experience for everyone - customer, colleagues, service providers?"
"What would make this a ten out of ten product/service/business/relationship?"
"How do you feel about this?"
"What does your intuition say about this?"

3. "Naked Leadership"

This tribe is stripped bare - of pretence, of hiding, of masquerading. They look at the raw truth and see it all in its naked glory.

They call attention to the pink elephants.

They ask questions like,
"What are we pretending not to know?"
"What's the question we're afraid to ask?"
"If we knew the answer what might it be?"

Naked leaders are genuine, authentic, honest, forthright, and...


It takes guts to bare all and speak the truth.

Coach's Challenge

What kind of leadership are you showing in your life and business? Are you buttoned up or hanging loose in your boardies? Are you following convention or are you lacing up your trekking boots? Is your closet dark and dreary or are you sitting like Buddha in your birthday suit?

I challenge you to try something a little different, a little out of the ordinary.

Author's Bio: 

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Author Zoe Routh works with women in business to enhance their personal effectiveness and leadership capacity for global effect. For free tips on how to become a more effective leader that will save you time, money, energy, and stress, go to