Gazelle Leadership

Author and financial expert Dave Ramsey talks about having “gazelle intensity” when it comes to getting out of debt. I first heard him talk about this principle in Financial Peace University and recently heard him talk about it when I saw him live. He uses the example of a gazelle outwitting a cheetah. He says,

“Cheetahs run fast, really fast—as in 70 to 75 mph fast at their top speeds. Not only is the cheetah the fastest animal on earth, but it accelerates faster than a sports car. The gazelle doesn’t have a chance, right? Wrong! Gazelles have learned that the cheetah’s speed is limited to straight-line running. So the gazelle bobs and weaves and runs in circles until the cheetah gets tired and gives up.”

This same principle can also be applied to the area of leadership. The word intensity is defined as, “great energy, strength, concentration, etc. as of activity, thought, or feeling.” If you want to be effective and see results it requires “gazelle intensity.” Below are 4 areas that will allow you to lead with gazelle intensity:

1. Strength based- The gazelle would have no chance of escaping if they tried to be strong in the area of speed. The reason they have the potential to escape is because they have a strength that causes them to have an advantage over the cheetah. When a leader finds and focuses on their strengths they have a competitive advantage and produce better results. Become a strength based leader.

2. Perseverance- Perseverance separates those who are successful from those who give up(Click here to Tweet that). The responsibility of leadership can be challenging and demanding. Those who are strong endure through the seasons of leadership. Persevering through will produce the rewards of personal success in your life. When the gazelle is being chased by the cheetah they have to persevere and endure until the cheetah runs out of steam. No matter what season of leadership you are in, keep persevering and enduring!

3. Self-belief- To become a gazelle leader requires self-belief. Achieving success is more about how we see and what we speak to our self than it is an outside factor. Robert Anthony said, “You can have anything you want if you will give up the belief that you can’t have it.” If you want to have and maintain yourself belief I suggest:

  • Associating with positive and optimistic people.
  • Have a control of your thoughts, make sure you are edifying and building yourself up.
  • Regularly refresh and renew your life by nourishing yourself.

4. Strategy- Strategy is needed if you want to accomplish your personal and organizational vision. Just having a vision or dream is not enough. It takes a strategic plan to accomplish it. John Kotter said, “Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change.” Gazelle leaders have a strategic plan for accomplishing their personal and the organizational vision. The gazelle’s vision is to survive another day by strategically bobbing and weaving until the cheetah gets tired. Take time to develop a strategic plan of the future.

Questions: What are some other factors to being a gazelle leader? How do you develop gazelle intensity?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Love the illustration and great application Dan. #3 is huge with me. I have nothing else to add at the moment.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you for stopping by to read and share.

  • After listening to Dave Ramsey speak about Gazelle intensity, this is a great illustration and interpretation to Leadership. As a Leader you should always make sure that you are ready for the attack. Or to be attacked and the unexpected. So this is why you need to be able to make quick decisions in order to stay alive and grow your Organization. Great Post here Dan.

    • Your going through the Financial Peace University right? What week are you on? Great point, we should be ready for “attach” at anytime. Because the enemy is ready and trying to attach us. Thank you so much for reading and sharing.

      • We did all 13 weeks already a few months ago. We are definitely a proponent of Dave Ramsey and his teachings on money. We want to spread that word. My wife will be getting certified so that we can also teach this to our team. Its a must.

        • Nice! What a great opportunity for your wife. I totally agree about it being a must.

  • floyd

    Awesome post, Dan. We all have to out smart the competition, especially when they are big and strong and we have to rely on other attributes. I think another of the factors is to be on the look out for the dangers and pitfalls, to be keeping our heads up and actively looking for what might sneak up on us.

    • Yes we do:) Great point! Being aware for the potential of future dangers or pitfalls are essential. I think this is why being in close connecting with God is so important, because He can help us see what we would other would not. Thank you for taking the time to read and share your insights.

  • When I think about gazelle intensity, I think about not being afraid to change. Don’t commit to that straight line – have the guts to switch it up!

    • Amen! Change often comes across as negative because it can bring discomfort. However change is essential if we want to reach our personal potential. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • I remember hearing about this as well. DR is one dynamic guy! Love the Click to Tweet function too – I’m going to have to start using that!

    • Yes he is, I encourage you to start implementing it into your blog posts. Thanks for reading. I appreciate it.

  • This is list is amazing and I LOVE Dave Ramsey! I think if I would add anything it would be focus, got to keep your eyes on the prize!

    • Glad you enjoyed the list. Great addition, focus is essential! Thanks for taking the time to read and share. I know your a busy man and it means a lot to me:)

  • Bob and weave…and pray you don’t get dizzy!

    Love the tweet function. Not sure I can do that with blogger, but think I’ll look into it. Thanks!

    • Amen about that!:) Thank you for sharing it. I think you might be able to do it with blogger, I would encourage you to check it out. When I do use it I see an increase of sharing. I know the same would be true with you or anyone else who uses it.

  • Love gazelle leadership! I remember growing up gazelles were all over our farm and grazing grounds. They were cute to look at, not too cute when you got up too close and personal (yeah, plenty of people, not just cheetahs, hunted them..:)..they had a mighty kick for such an animal it’s size.
    don’t know what leadership lesson i can glean from that (other than if you are trapped and all you have left is a kick, give it your best shot!.lol). Great post

    • Very interesting, It’s great to learn more about you:) Thank you for sharing some interesting facts about them. Maybe a leader should be able and prepared to fight back or deliver a “mighty kick” when needed, what do you think?

  • Great stuff! Dave Ramsey is awesome! I like what you mentioned in the post!

    • Thank you Brandon! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Which point related with you the most?

  • Great stuff man! I’m a HUGE Ramsey nut as well! Glad to see mostly everyone here is in the same boat 😀

    • Jared,

      Do you listen to his daily radio show? It’s a great stream of wise insights. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      • I used to a bit but not much anymore. We are FPU coordinators at our church though and will be attending a meet and greet with him in Dallas next week. 😀 Stoked about that!

        • I listen to him about 3x a week, it’s a great way to learn about communication and asking the right question. Sweet!!! After you meet him you should let me know how it was. I went to see him live a month ago, I was not able to meet him but I did meet Jon Acuff.

          • Nice. Jon’s awesome! Never met him but did see his office when I was interviewing there. My wife got to meet Dave during his radio show but I didn’t get to so I’m really looking forward to this 😀

            • I remember reading a blog post about your experience interviewing for the position. That’s great man! I know you will enjoy it.

  • Dan, this is probably my favorite post! The Gazelle Intensity you speak of can be applied to all areas of our lives, not just financial. Your first point is great. A gazelle would not last very long if he tried to be strong in the area of speed–that’s the cheetah’s strong suit. We can’t do well in areas we’re not strong in, otherwise we’re setting ourselves up for failure. We need to work in our strengths, which usually work well with others on our team, who have strengths all their own that make the whole machine work together!

    • Scott,

      I thought you would enjoy this post:) It’s an important aspect to leading effectively and living a significant life. It’s great to hear from you, I hope your feeling better.

  • Shawna

    I think the positive self talk is key. I have motto’s for myself and for the leadership area I am in. Our marriage motto is “live simply so that others may simply live”, personal motto’s have been: “ish”, intentional relentless pursuit”, “I serve and audience of One”, “I serve God and man benefits”. Leadership motto’s I have had are: “provide for and protect my staff”, “honor and celebrate”, “One piece at a time”, “connect, grow, serve”, “innovate and grow”. and many more over the years. These motto’s help keep me on target and give me the ability to say yes or no to things/events/tasks. My email signature line has been “intentional purpose driven living”. What is yours?

    • Hi Shawna,

      Motto’s are great! I really like yours. The key is to live and make our decisions through and by them. I have a motto (value) of serving and adding value to others at all times, having a standard of excellence in everything I do, always growing, and never giving up. Thank you for the comment and sorry about the delayed reply.