Leaders: Are You A Candle or A Beacon?

by  Chery Gegelman  |  Leadership Development

Have you ever had an “A~ha! Moment” that is so profoundly simple you wonder why you’ve never seen it before?  I had one of those a couple of years ago that continues to impact me.

I have always believed that the biggest reason leaders exist, is to be a source of light and help to their organizations and the people they serve.  What if… There are two primary ways for leaders to share that light with others?

  1. As a candle – Softly and gently bringing understanding, help and hope to others. (Most people like the soft warmth and glow of a candle and will draw near.)

As a beacon – Boldly and courageously shining the light on danger and standing firm on truth.  (This light comes from a place of deep conviction, and frequently calls the leader to stand alone.  …This light is so bright and strong that some people cover their eyes and choose not to see the danger they are in.)

Clearly both types of light are needed!  However…

  • Choosing to be a candle in a situation that requires a beacon, can result in no behavior modification and cause something that is already a potentially dangerous situation to escalate.
  • Choosing to be a beacon when a situation that requires a candle can cause people to believe that their intentions and their results are being judged.  It can shut down their efforts and divide teams.

Holding these two options in your mind’s eye, is a powerful way to discern the type of light that is needed, ultimately creating a clear path to becoming a more effective leader.  As you think through the meetings you have scheduled this week…  Do you need to be a candle or a beacon?


Chery is one of the Authors of the new Lead Change Book, The Character-Based Leader, Instigating A Leadership Revolution… One Person At A Time.  Click the link above to receive a complimentary chapter of the book.

About The Author

Articles By chery-gegelman
Chery Gegelman was once a frustrated visionary that learned to lead extensive system-wide changes from the middle. Today she is The Founder of Giana Consulting, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two books. Her passion is bringing help and understanding to people and organizations that are leading through change to growth.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Deborah L. Parker  |  07 Aug 2012  |  Reply

Very nice Chery. To the point and the imagery is powerful.

Chery Gegelman  |  07 Aug 2012  |  Reply

Thanks Deborah! Have a great day!

Vatsala Shukla  |  09 Aug 2012  |  Reply

Simple but effective article. Actually made me think about my own style. Thank you for sharing Chery. Have a great weekend!



Chery Gegelman  |  10 Aug 2012  |  Reply

Thank you Vatsala! Einstein once said that if you can’t explain it to a six year old you don’t understand it yourself. I take that as permission to unleash my inner child!

Kaye Chalwell  |  10 Aug 2012  |  Reply

I love this image of a beacon and a candle. It’s a good reminder to choose carefully how to deal with different situations and needs of the people we are in relationship with. Thanks, Kaye

Chery Gegelman  |  10 Aug 2012  |  Reply

Thank you Kaye! One of my favorite songs is Go Light Your World. The song lyrics include candles and beacons. One particular day it hit me that we are not called to be one or the other, we are called to be both. Prior to that day, I believe I was a beacon more often than not. Now I pray for the ability to discern which one is most needed and the courage OR the patience to shine in the most effective way.

Kent Julian  |  13 Aug 2012  |  Reply

We can definitely be both a candle and beacon; it’s just a matter of how we project our light and use the genuine qualities of that light appropriately and in a way that will best suit the situation. Very unique thoughts, Chery!

Chery Gegelman  |  13 Aug 2012  |  Reply

Thanks Kent! I appreciate your feedback. It is nice to hear that the thoughts are unique. The reality is that my inner 2-year old always wants to know WHY things work like they do. I was blessed to hear lyrics that helped me connect a few dots so I could understand and ultimately explain what I learned!

Jesse Silva  |  10 Feb 2015  |  Reply

So simple and yet so powerful; I am not only going to have my Leadership Team read this, but your imagery will likely get referenced by them over and over.
I wouldn’t have thought that the light we emit as Leadership could be categorized into different powers. Thank you for this blog piece.

Chery Gegelman  |  02 Mar 2015  |  Reply

Jesse – Thank you so much for sharing how you will use this post with your team! I’d love to hear how that imagry impacts them and their results!

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