3064-2736178554_f531142e76_m.jpgOver the last week, there’s been some great discussion from our community on the post “Are you a King or a King-Maker?First of all – thank you. The depth of discussion has been exceptional and a very clear display of people who are all committed to being king-makers.

This post is in response to the comments and discussion, and presenting just a small truth that I learnt myself earlier this year.

To get you up to speed

The point we were making is that some people are kings and some people are king-makers. King makers are those who see the potential in people and work to make them the kings that they can be. In an age (particularly on Twitter) where everyone wants to be the king of their own personal brand, their own community and blog, complete with product and their own affiliate program, king-makers are increasingly rare.

Being a king and a king-maker are also not mutually exclusive – but the best kings are those who were king-makers first, and indeed continue to be so.

The liberation of it all

In the comments on the post, Randy Dunning said something that really humbled me and opened my eyes when he said:

Posts like this are very liberating in that they give people permission to do what is right.

Common thinking – even in relation to social media – is along the lines of “How can I leverage this to further my kingdom.”

I think he’s quite right. As I said above, there is this strong push for everyone to be a king of their own kingdom (no matter how small it is), and in turn, every social connection they have is seen as leverage to the advancement of said kingdom. This is what I’m probably going to call the Digital King Complex, because it’s what we are seeing everywhere. There is an immense pressure from every side, with bloggers telling other bloggers that they have to get a brand, get their product, get their affiliate program, get their feeds, and so on.

The liberation comes when, as Randy says in a later comment;

General thinking is that the ultimate goal is to be king of something. But if you’re not wired up to be a king, that can be a tough, lonely place to be. And if you’re not designed to be a king, yet are striving to be, you’re climbing the wrong ladder. Been there, done that.

No question that the synergies teamwork produces yield the grandest results.


Every leader worth their salt understands that there is no such thing as a team of kings. A kingdom is made of up a king (the Number 1), and a range of advisors, counsellors, senators, etc (the Number 2s).

Number 1s are the visionary, top of the ladder people. We often associate them with the big names. They are driven, vision-lead, in front, trail blazing people that draw the crowds. Number 2s are the less glamourous, behind the scenes aides that make the Number 1s words a reality. Typically, we consider Number 1s to be the leaders, and then that’s it. This is where this pressure for everyone to be king comes from.

Heres the thing with the Number 1s and Number 2s – they are all leaders. The Number 1 might be the leader, but any Number 2 is still a leader, and the leader of the area that they oversee. This is 360° leadership – something I’m keen to talk about in the future – and is the idea that we should lead sideways, up and down.

Bulding the Kingdom

The reality – for anyone who has actually ever been on a successful team – is that the Number 1s need the Number 2s and the Number 2s need the Number 1s. We’ll talk about this more this week on the subject of Generalist and Specialists, but for now the main point is that to build the kingdom you need both – the King and the King-makers.

Your Leading Thoughts

  • Are you a Number 1, or a Number 2, or both in different situations?
  • How must Number 1s and Number 2s lead each other to effectively build the kingdom?

Photo courtesy of expressmonorail

Archived Comments

  • http://twitter.com/billyritchie Billy Ritchie

    Although I struggle with some of this wording I personally would be a Number 2. Understanding this give me great freedom. There is nothing worse that trying to be something you are not shaped to be. I love the fact that I have a Number 1 leader that is there taking the lead.

    Being a leader can be a lonely place and sometimes I don’t think I understand the full extent of the weight of leadership that my senior leader carrys. My privalage is to assist, carry, pray for and even sometimes challenge. I really don’t see that because someone has the calling and gifting to be a No 1 that that sets them up to be a Tzar. Great leaders model servant leadership whilst still being able to point the way forward and make the hard decsions.

    But in all this our persuit needs to be of Jesus not of leadersip. Character trumps gift everytime.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Billy

    Apologies about the language – this has come from a range of discussions over the recent weeks, so perhaps I need to de-jargon it!

    The best Number 2s are 360° leaders (Well, all good leaders are) – there are a lot of parts in this which I’ll be unpacking over the coming weeks.

    In your experience, Billy, what are the leadership attributes that you value most?


  • http://alexgoodall.com Alex Goodall

    I have two areas where I am definitely a king within those very small kingdoms: I have worked in those areas for many years and developed ideas which I promote under my name.

    But outside those areas, I love to come across exceptional people – whether or not they are or seek to be kings – and to do what I can to raise their profile.

    There are too many people who seek to become overnight kings; and other kings who wrongly think their kingdoms should expand greatly – sometimes to the great detriment of their “subjects”.

  • http://twitter.com/billyritchie Billy Ritchie

    Authenticity without doubt.
    Values people more than programmes.
    Inspirational & Visionary

    Great post by Mark Driscoll around this sort of area called “Every Team Needs a Leader” http://good.ly/tclxu

    Interesting to note that he says he the Senior Leader he is not No 1 on every team he serves on.

  • / Scott Gould

    Good pointers – will check out that article.

    I like your three values as well. What are your top values in a number 2 do you think?

  • http://twitter.com/hofmeyr Phillip Hofmeyr

    Scott – your post reminded me of a really popular TED talk on how to start a movement and the key role your first follower (a ‘number 2’?) plays http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_st...

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Phil – will check out!

    Are you a number 1 or number 2 – what are the things that you’re involved in ATM?

  • http://twitter.com/billyritchie Billy Ritchie

    Bought in and sold out for the Vision
    Questioning but Loyal
    Barrier aware but Solution orientated

  • / Scott Gould

    Good qualities :-)

    Very good balance there.

    My top quality for anyone in my team is initiative. I value it very highly.

  • http://randelldesign.com/ Randy Dunning

    I guess I’d better hurry up and start a blog so I can link to this post and get lots of blogger cred, attract advertisers and have more leverage to sell my…oh, wait…that’s the wannabe king in me speaking.

    Scott, thanks again for leading discussion and inviting us all in.

    I don’t often get quoted except by my kids. I’m humbled and grateful.

  • / Scott Gould

    You’re insights are always very valuable here Randy – thank you for your contribution! :-)

  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Hello Scott,

    I think I’m more of a Number 2. I don’t think I have the charisma and energy necessary to be the greatest leader of all times. However, in a number of situations I’ve found myself being the leader, sometimes chosen by someone else, or sometimes just naturally driven by the context. These situations have been in some jobs, at university, or with my group of friends or flatmates (that’s actually quite a few of situations now that I come to think about it!). But the reason why I think it was this way is because there wasn’t anyone with enough initiative to be a leader.

    But you know, lately I hear all the time about how we should work on our personal brand if we want even ‘simple’ things like getting a job. And its what I’m doing right now, even though I don’t feel 100% comfortable, but I feel that if I don’t build my brand, I’ll be left out of the pie. And in my humble opinion, increasing competition for fewest jobs it’s just going to get worse, so that’s going to be every time more common (probably not in all the industries, but certainly in the Media, Arts, etc..). What do you think?

    PS. Scott, I’ve posted my comments on my experience in IMEX here: http://www.rosagarriga.net/Rosa_Garriga/Blog.html
    btw, now that I’m starting to write my own blog, I realize how beautiful and (effective) yours is!



  • / Scott Gould

    Hi Rosa

    Thanks for the comment and for sharing your experience and yourself!

    I’m hearing what you’re saying about personal brands. IMO, the best personal branding tool is that you’ve done something people know about. All the other stuff is fluff that tries to make the outside look pretty because the inside has nothing.

    Stuff like how you carry yourself, etc – that’s not so much about the brand as it is about your character and persona. Sure, you can play word games, but I don’t buy it.

    I’d advise you spend time making things happen, than building your brand. Check out Stephanie Ruat (http://twitter.com/srudat). There isn’t a brand here – because she doesn’t need one. She’s had Hilary Clinton speak at her events among other things. Why? Because she has built things that others know about.

    I’ll start following your blog!


  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Alex

    Good comments – especially about overnight kings.

    In your opinion, what are the key skills necessary to make a king?

  • http://www.rosagarriga.net Rosa Garriga

    Thank you so much for this advice, Scott! You’re so right about making things happen is what makes a brand/someone/a company to stand out.
    I now have to spend some time thinking about this :)

    I’ll check out her too, and thanks for following my blog!

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Rosa :-)

    I’m making a video on that today actually – “the pitfall of preparation over action”

    Do follow Stephanie – she is an exceptional person.


  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Alex,

    Thanks for the additions- in your experience, what are the most
    necessary skills to make someone a king?