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As business leaders, we often struggle to identify the qualities necessary to become more effective in our roles. We read books and attend workshops in an attempt to figure it out. Having seen and studied the habits of many leaders, I have come to believe that understanding leadership is like putting together a puzzle. Finding the right pieces at the right time is a significant challenge. Putting it all together the “right” way takes a lot of energy.
What is leadership anyway?
Many define leadership as the ability to get people to follow you.
How do we achieve that? If you research the topic of leadership you’ll be pulled in many directions. Hundreds, if not thousands, of books are written every year on the topic. Many are stories of successful leaders. They’re inspiring, but their circumstances and skills may not be the same as yours. Other resources focus on helping you develop specific skills such as time management, negotiation, stress reduction, etc. These are all important and contribute to successful leadership, but it’s unlikely that any single skill will be the key to successful leadership for you. That’s the Leadership Puzzle – what is the combination of personal attributes and learned skills that will make you a successful leader?
Leadership is Unique for Everyone
My observation is that every company and every leader works with a combination of variables – people, markets, competitors, business skills, emotional intelligence and customers – that is unique to them. What I find to be common among all effective leaders is their relentless pursuit of possibilities, the passion with which they conduct themselves and their persistence in achieving what they believe in.
The three P’s of leadership!
To get people to follow you, you need to have a destination. Great leaders understand that. That’s why they don’t get flustered by things that are going wrong today. They believe that what happens today is necessary for them to achieve their goals tomorrow. Their focus on possibilities inspires people they work with and drives them to be successful. Steve Jobs was a master at this. He was undaunted by the details of the day. His focus was on revolutionizing the customer’s experience interacting with technology.
Successful leaders bring almost every conversation back to what is most important to them – their passion. Great leadership finds ways to connect even the most obscure opportunities to the success of their organization. Passion is contagious: it attracts people to what leaders are most interested in. People naturally want to be part of the leader’s vision because of the excitement their passion generates.
Never give up – until it is time to give up!
Strong leaders believe that obstacles are simply things that need to be overcome or pushed aside. A leader with a dream is unstoppable. Most “overnight success” occurs following several years of hard work.
However, persistence for the sake of persistence is not a positive attribute and great leaders know when it’s time to move on. They don’t allow themselves to get too connected to an initiative that won’t produce the desired results.
Continuing to learn about leadership by reading and attending workshops is still important. Remember, however, that your leadership style is unique and it must be for it to work for you.
Find your own solution to the Leadership Puzzle and put it to work.
As published in TEC Canada