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We Need Leaders, Not Gurus


Bobby Cappuccio is world renowned for innovative thinking in fitness. He’s a co-founder of PTA Global and continues to pack rooms at fitness conventions all over the world. It is truly a pleasure to feature this guest post by Mr Bobby Cappuccio.

Guru’s Suck!

If you’re someone who is currently following a particular guru, that statement may be offensive, possibly blasphemous.

In fairness, the traditional definition of a ‘guru’ is (1) “A Hindu spiritual teacher. (2) “Each of the ten first leaders of the Sikh religion.” (3) “an influential teacher or popular expert” – (Oxford English Dictionary).

I have no problem with teachers, the Hindu or the Sikh faith for that matter. It’s the final definition, that of “…popular expert” that disturbs me.

In a world where gurus seemingly outnumber working professionals, we have a tendency to glorify, even idolize the ‘popular expert’. The one who has the right answers. The problem is there are no right answers! And if there were, no single guru possesses them all.

Guru’s indoctrinate, leaders educate.

Education is not about merely answering questions but provoking them. Better outcomes emanate from better questions.

We can make an argument that the world needs more leaders, I am not so sure the same could be said for gurus.

In order to lead, a leader must engage in leadership. Meaning, he or she must have the ability (and the heart) to direct, develop, inspire and influence others to achieve more, and therefore contribute more, to a commonly shared vision. The consummate dedication to the direction, development, inspiration and influence of others may not lead to glorification but all the same, demonstrates devotion. Devotion to a clear, compelling vision, not least of all, devotion to the people the leader is supposed to be leading. If not, the leader runs the risk of his ego expanding beyond his cause.

Why is it that ‘popular experts’ seem to be the recipients of devotion, rather than dispensers of it?

The quintessential difference between and a guru and a leader is that gurus create followers, leaders create leaders.

Gurus try to convince you that they are the leader you’re looking for; leaders try to convince you that you are the leader you’re looking for.

Great leaders are great visionaries. Great visionaries are often great thinkers. Throughout history, great thinkers have shared many similar characteristics – Three of those characteristics include;

  • An intense intellectual curiosity and fascination
  • A frustration with the status quo
  • A creative, fluid mind that thinks beyond accepted concepts and possesses an expansive range of possibilities

We hold geniuses like Albert Einstein in high regard, yet we wouldn’t have ever heard the name ‘Einstein’ if he hadn’t rejected the notion that Newtonian physics was the ‘best’ representation of the universe we live in.

Gurus are often celebrated for their mastery of a particular method or teaching upon which their credibility rests, which is a precarious position for a guru to be in – How can you have a bias for truth if the possibility exists that at the core of the truth may lie a contradiction to the validity of your eminence? Therefore, it’s in the best interests of the guru to know ‘the way’, which ironically is usually their way.

History has repeatedly made fools of those who profess to have the last word in the application of knowledge…

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943.

“Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1985.

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is of no inherent value to us.” – Western Union Internal
memo, 1876.

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patients, 1899.

Contrast that mindset, to the mind of a genius:

“If at first, the idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it.” – Albert Einstein.

Leaders are simply not impressed, nor completely defined by their own intelligence. They aren’t attached to a methodology, but to a mental model and ultimately a vision that is bigger than they are.

A leader encourages his followers to challenge information to determine if it is valid, useful and applicable to the greater enterprise.

A leader is more concerned with what’s right, rather than who’s right.

Because the prominence of the guru lies in their method, they are at risk of intellectual elitism. The elitist tears down ideas that do not support their own. For the elitist, it’s more about their ego and edification than cooperation.

Leaders don’t argue with people, they debate ideas out of a passion for expansive thinking that has the potential to give rise to innovative solutions. As with science, energy is created by polarity. In thought, it’s the energy of polarity that fuels creativity. A leader respects those who are more intelligent than he is, who challenge him, because he understands that he will learn a great deal more from these people than from those who agree with him.

The key to achievement in our industry is a strong shared vision. One that can entertain divergent ideas, toward a convergent purpose.

I am not suggesting that we should be accepting of everything. After all, our mind is our vessel, and we need to selectively guard against who or what we let on board. But can’t remain confident in untested opinions that are shielded from the insight and critique of others. So, we need to be cautious to not become overly attached to any means that may compromise our own ends.

As we navigate through our educational journey, remain the captain of your vessel – combine the ability to be open with a healthy degree of skepticism. As the popular saying goes, “Strong opinions, weakly held.”

For more insights from Bobby Cappuccio, have a listen to this great interview between Bobby Cappuccio and Mel Tempest here. You can also find Bobby at, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


2 thoughts on “We Need Leaders, Not Gurus

  1. Tania says:

    Dear Mr Cappucino,

    True leaders will lead with vision and allow the full creativity of their team to ‘shine through’…almost as if the veil of vulnerability (of the leader) is used as the gift to allow each person to reach their full potential and not allow their own ‘ego’ to lead the team, to stand back and allow growth takes times, patience and confidence on one’s own ability to nuture and develop a ‘team’ that also combines compassion and kindness for all sential beings…

    Personal experience says otherwise…managers and leaders select a ‘team’ on inherent personal traits on ‘whether they like a person’…not on ability or the difference is in fact the ‘reason’ they require the skills of the person they deject or turn away due to their own insecurities being compromised… when in fact this person would be of more value and support then the ‘yes’ people they favour to support themselves with… a more creative person will seek answers or solutions in the broader spectrum … look no further than ‘apple’, ‘google’..

    Simply food for thought… cognitive dissonance … stand back let your team create the dream..

    My business would have ‘selection criteria’..then select the person nearly matched, as they’ve most likely have other life experience which outweighs the ‘yada yada’, anyone can place on job advertisement.’s not hard..find lovely people, who like people and teach them …

    Kind Regards


  2. Tania says:

    Dear Mr Cappucino,

    NB… guru.. is simply a ‘teacher…remover of darkness, to ‘shed light’..

    Taking into consideration there is no greater teacher than your own soul, it whispers, so listen carefully..

    Budda says…Believe nothing,
    no matter where you read it,
    or who said it,
    unless it agrees with
    your own reason
    and your own common sense.

    Therefore you develop you own wisdom, and inner guidance … only if you’re in awareness and take the time to notice.

    A true leader will embrace this, not be scared or alarmed .. harness this energy for their own benefit, and allowing the person to fully shine.

    This sadly rarely happens… food for thought..

    Kind Regards
    ps..I think we could have a really interesting chat about this one day..


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