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A guide to being a great leader.

A practical guide to being a great leader by comedian Sonia Di Iorio - someone who has never led anything.

Jul 19, 2019

Words: Sonia Di Iorio

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Here’s a practical guide to being a great leader, by me, someone who has never led anything (unless you include the ‘hip hip’ at birthday parties). That’s right, sports teams, small businesses, underground crime rings... unfortunately I’ve never been in charge of any of them, and just like a lot of people who haven’t actually done stuff, I’m here to give you advice on how to do it.

Eat Breakfast

‘You can’t lead without a feed’ is my motto, and although no-one ever joins in when I start chanting it in a kebab shop at 5am, there’s no denying that it’s a great sentiment. Trying to lead on an empty stomach can have disastrous effects: you could get desperate and eat the first thing you see, like say... a raw onion.

A good hearty meal makes a good hearty leader and what’s the most important meal of the day? All of them, but let’s focus on the first one. Start your day right; luckily there’s plenty of great places all over Gippsland that offer excellent breakfast options, like Traralgon’s Food Co. on Franklin, Warragul’s Frankie’s or Glengarry’s Bushies Bakery to name just a very small few.

So, pop in and support a local business as well as your stomach. Please note, I have not been paid by any of these businesses, these are purely unbiased recommendations (however, if any of these fine establishments are looking to sponsor a comedian with an earring addiction, I would not fight it).

Dress for Success

You’ve gotta look the part; if you dress like you’re in charge, people will think you are.

My year 12 high school photo is the perfect example. Not only does this photo capture something truly rare, me smiling as a teenager, but if you look closely you can see a school captain badge pinned to my jumper. Was I a school captain? No. Did I borrow the badge off the actual captain for the photo? Yes. All of the glory, none of the responsibility.

To this day I’m still using my outfits to give the impression of power. That’s why I’ve been bringing back shoulder pads. So far, no-one has followed my fashion lead, but when they see me, I bet they’ll think, “Wow, she looks important, she was probably school captain”.

Talk the Walk

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘walk the talk’, pretty obvious what that means — you’ve gotta practice what you preach. So what’s ‘talk the walk?’ Well, it’s also all in the title. Describe to people, in detail, the way you move when you walk. How fast you go, how many steps per minute, whether you bob up and down or are more of a straight shooter.

Sure, people will be confused as to why you are doing this, but when people are confused they look for leadership. Who is going to lead them? You, the person who is open and honest about everything, even their walking style.


The saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ is very true, and like all great advice, it comes from Spiderman’s uncle (or the French Revolution, there’s a bit of debate over that). When you’re in charge, sometimes you have to miss out on fun stuff for the greater good.

Are you the captain of your footy, netball or soccer team? You’ll know exactly what I mean. Maybe you want to party but you’ve got an important game the next morning. I remember the feeling. I mean, not actually, as mentioned above I was never the head of a sports team but I did have friends who achieved things, so I remember their disappointment when they had to miss out on a night at Inferno.

Even though the call of the flashing dancefloor/skittle bomb/hotdog trifecta is strong, it’s never as strong as the satisfaction you’ll get leading your team to victory with a fresh mind and set of eyes. I remember the feeling. I mean, not actually, unless victory feels a lot like regret, then yes, I do understand the feeling.

Chill Out

We’ve all seen people drunk on power: world leaders, C-grade celebrities and karaoke DJs. If you find yourself leading with an iron fist, maybe it’s time to chill out. Being a strict leader might be your style, but it can get out of hand, so have a bath, splash some ylang-ylang and listen to Enya.

If you don’t have time to unwind, power can get to your head, it can become your whole world and you’ll be at risk of accidentally starting a cult. This is bad. Just making sure we’re all on the same page about that. Please don’t start a cult.

Pretend You Know What You’re Doing

If you are still unsure about how to lead, just pretend you know. Walk around looking busy and use words like ‘deadline’ and ‘portfolio’. People pretend they know things all the time, I mean, do you think your parents knew the answers to every question you asked? Or that anyone knows how to use gym equipment properly? No, so just pretend. If you don’t think this method will work, trust me it does, hell, people are using it to run entire countries.

Did Sonia’s piece trigger a guffaw or chortle from you? You should get to one of her raved-about live shows, it’ll have you belly laughing for days.

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