Gary Winters

Coach  Workshop Facilitator Author

What’s the X Factor in your leadership style?


I have long believed, and know for a fact, that most of what we call leadership behavior can be learned.

But some of what constitutes great leaders (whether on the world stage or in your organization) simply can’t be learned – or taught. I call that the X Factor.

All of the effective leaders I’ve ever known, worked for, coached, or simply observed had at least one amazing characteristic that they brought to the table – and they didn’t learn it. They learned to leverage it.

Take Jim, for example. Jim’s a great leader in his market-dominating organization. He’s visionary, he’s a compelling communicator, and he’s legendary in his knowledge of what his organization produces. But he also has this knack, I’ll call it, of being able to make anyone think that they are the most important person in the world to him at a given moment.

I don’t think that’s teachable. Improvable, perhaps, but he brought that to his leadership practice from deep within his psyche.

Then there’s Tom. A former highway patrol officer, he moved into a management role in a large manufacturing organization and soon excelled at his ability to lead his department to high levels of effectiveness. To some, he was an SOB to work for, but most would admit privately at once you’ve worked for Tom, you took your own performance to another level. For Tom, the X Factor was his decisiveness. He was rash, impulsive, and quick to make decisions. Training and mentoring and coaching helped him improve the quality of his decisions – but none of that made him more decisive.

Sally was held in awe by others for her talent to make people feel fully supported and heard, which in turn made them want to follow her. Sally’s development path no doubt included learning strategies and techniques that convey the experience of empathy – but she brought the desire and habit of being empathetic to her role as a leader. She didn’t learn to be empathetic in a classroom, or from a book, or from her mentor. She was naturally empathetic – only moreso than most people.

Everyone can learn to be a better leader.

I believe that leaders will be more effective if they study leadership to learn what effective leaders do, and then practice applying those skills until they master them. But just as important, leaders should reflect on their personal X Factor and seek to leverage that as much as they can.

What is your X Factor? Ask yourself:


  • What comes naturally to me?
  • Where have I always excelled (not just in a leadership context, but in general)?
  • What are the two or three words that people use most often to describe me?

When Connie thought about these questions, she was surprised at first to hear herself answering:

  • “My sense of humor.”
  • “Putting people at ease through humor.”
  • “Connie is funny, relaxed, confident.”

Connie’s X Factor is humor. It’s what can take her leadership practice to a very high level. She can learn (and in fact has learned) many typical how-to’s of leadership: setting goals, challenging people to do their best, holding people accountable, or even running good meetings. But it’s her ability to find the humor in any situation which will put her over the top.

If you were to study Connie’s leadership, you might conclude that you should learn to be funny to be a better leader. Wrong. The real lesson is to learn what your own X Factor is, acknowledge it, run with it, and make it a hallmark of your leadership “style.”


“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is the sequel to the very popular “What Your Boss Never Told You.” Packed inside are more tips, techniques, and insights about the challenging, but rewarding leadership position.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is written in a conversational tone, as though you and the author were enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the issues that emerge for new leaders. It stands alone, and/or could be read before or after the first volume, “What Your Boss Never Told You.” You can start with any chapter and read in any order you like.

if you search for a book on management, you’ll find a staggering 600,000+ books currently available. How can you narrow that down? “What Your Boss Never Told You” is the best place to start.

No textbook here – this book is short and sweet. It’s designed to help you “unpack” your new job and be effective from the first day with your new team. It contains twenty-one chapters filled with the wisdom Winters has gathered from real managers – effective, successful leaders in organizations much like yours.

Leaders make decisions every day – big and small. Most know that if they include others in the decision-making process, the quality of those decisions – and the commitment to them – will likely improve. That said, they also know it’s impractical, if not impossible, to include others in every decision they confront.

“To Do or Not To Do” tackles the question of when to make decisions on your own, and when to involve your team. It gives you a deceptively simple but proven method to determine, when you are facing a difficult decision, how to decide how to decide.

Far too many meetings are dreadful, mind-numbing, energy-draining, productivity-sapping, colossal wastes of time. As someone once said, “To kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon.”

Here’s the deal: if you’re willing to learn and apply the techniques in “So, How Was Your Meeting?”, you’ll call fewer meetings, while vastly improving the ones you do lead. They’ll take less time, have more balanced participation, produce better decisions, and result in concrete action items for follow-up afterwards.

While there are thousands of books written for people about to retire, this may be the only book for people who manage soon-to-retire employees. Written in a casual, conversational style, “Managing the Soon To Retire Employee” will give you everything you need to know to move forward with confidence and grace.

You can be successful with Sooners. It won’t happen by chance, and it’s not a matter of pulling some management “trick” out of your hat. But you can learn how to do it, and you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Managing friends or former peers can be awkward. When you become the boss, everything about these relationships can suddenly be uncomfortable. There’s a new set of ground rules to establish – as manager, you are going be accountable for the work performance of friends or former co-workers on the team, and they are going to have to adjust to the fact that they now report to you. Everyone involved can feel awkward and hesitant about the future. 

Have you been approached by management with an offer to promote you to supervision? Or, are you mulling over the possibility for the future? Find yourself not sure whether to accept the promotion?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Help! They Want to Make ME a Supervisor will help you sort out a very big question: Should you accept the offer to become a supervisor? Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be confident that you’ve made the best decision for you and for your organization.