I’ve been obsessed with leadership since I was in college. I’m not really sure why. To be honest, as arrogant as this sounds, I’ve always felt called to lead. I’ve never really fit in. Growing up, I was the kid who only had 4 or 5 really good friends. That’s never changed. I’ve always had a moral obligation to outcomes. If the teacher wanted us to sit down and be quiet, I would do that, and give a stern lecture to anyone else in my kindergarten class who thought that those instructions were not equally intended for them. In Agatha Christie’s novels the great detective, Hercule Poirot, says, “I see the world as it ought to be, not as it is.” It’s the contrast between those two worlds that allows Poirot to solve crimes. It is the contrast between those two things that drives me to solve problems, and to never be satisfied with the status quo.

Throughout college I had the privilege of working with some great leaders. I had the privilege of working with some leaders that wanted to be great. And, I had the privilege of working with some leaders who thought they were great. It gave me perspective into what really does make a leader great. I read as many leadership books as I could. Some, perhaps, that you wouldn’t even categorize as a leadership book. Memoirs from leaders are my second most favourite – memoirs from followers are my first.

When I graduated from college and got my first real job, the journey continued. Leaders in the real-world came in the same three varieties. However, after a short time, my questions turned to “Why doesn’t anyone see leadership in me?” I would never be asked to take leadership roles. Whenever I applied for them, I’d be asked “Do you have any experience leading others?” Interview over. I once asked my boss for more leadership responsibilities… He responded by telling me that I stuck out like a sore thumb and if he gave me leadership responsibilities no one in the organization would follow me. I started Hölmetrics while working for him, and he couldn’t understand why I was more enthusiastic about Hölmetrics then I was about working for him. He asked me to quit. So, I did.

Today, I lead a team of 9 passionate engineering, marketing, administrative and psychology professionals. It’s the most meaningful work I have ever done. But I can honestly say that the only leadership opportunities I’ve ever had have been ones I’ve given myself – which strikes at the heart of the foundational question I have been asking my entire life,


By simple deduction I can tell you what it is not (based on my years of research and experience).

It’s not a title.

It’s not an office.

It’s not asynchronous to the people you’re leading.

Leadership is not solo.

It doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

It’s not a skill but requires a set of skills.

Leadership is not fun.

It’s not the highest paid person in the company.

It’s not top down.

It is poorly defined.

And leadership is invisible.

Sometimes, even, leadership can only be seen retrospectively.

Here is what I have learned about leadership in the past 30 years:

Leadership is hard.

Leadership requires an external source of personal security.

If anyone gives you a comprehensive definition of leadership you should no longer listen to that person.

Leadership can be learned.

Leadership is about understanding the power you have to influence any given situation, and exercising that power. And how you exercise that power, in that situation, will define what kind of leader you are.

Leadership is a key function of an organization.

Leadership requires risks.

Leadership is not the right of the privileged, but the prerogative of the courageous.

Leadership is about standing in the gap, and making sure that all voices are heard, and that everyone has heard all voices.

Just as with organizations, healthy leaders reproduce themselves, or better yet, their philosophy of leadership to others. Do I think that I should have been given more opportunities to lead prior to starting my own company? Yes, I do. Do I see the huge amounts of growth I have experienced in the 2 years of being the CEO at Hölmetrics? Yes, I do. I wasn’t a very good leader. I’m better today. I don’t know if that changes my first answer.

If we’re going to be healthy leaders, I think we need to flatten the peak of our organization’s hierarchy as much as possible so that leadership is more accessible to those in our organizations who are leaders in the making, but just need the opportunity to fly. Learning to fly is a lot like leadership. At some point, you’re going to get pushed out of the nest, and you’ll either figure it out or you’ll be dead. And, I’d say, either one of those outcomes is better than being stuck in the nest.

– Chad Verity, CEO