The Challenge of Achieving Leadership Excellence
“All excellence is equally difficult”, is a fine quote. However, studies show that over half of managers fail, and never achieve leadership excellence. Gallup studies show that 82% of managers are unfit for their jobs. I am not trying to scare you but these are the facts. Why does this happen? Too many managers settle for less.
Settling for Less than Leadership Excellence
All too often, we choose to believe our professional fate is not about a choice we make right now, but it’s about the choices we’ve made back then. What college to attend? What degree to pursue? What job to accept? Travel or work? Attend conference A or conference B? Return to school for MBA vs. climb the corporate ladder?
When it comes to our professional lives, we’ve all made dozens of decisions that, in hindsight, maybe we’d do differently (sometimes, we might do things pretty similarly). And we think that “had I just… , I’d be in a different situation than I am right now.” We think that with more experience, different experience, or less of a specific experience – we’d be more prepared or less jaded. We think that with more education, we’d be in higher demand and less likely to be overlooked. And we think that with more expertise and skill in X, Y or Z, we’d really be everything we want to be. The unfortunate thing about that attitude is that it feels pretty hopeless because it’s all an all-or-nothing. It’s either more or less of something, which inevitably never feels just right. If it’s all about what we’ve done, achieved and become up until this point – well, we think what’s the point?
Learning to Achieve Leadership Excellence
To me, the reason many managers live their lives and careers in this standstill is for one reason: it’s an easy excuse to excuse yourself from putting in the effort. It’s a way to make it all about what you should have done instead of making it all about what you could do! Simply, to become a leader, a great leader, decide to do it. I’m not suggesting that what we’ve done prior to this point has no impact on our current realities, but to throw ourselves a pity party because we’re not where we want to be… is just our way of letting ourselves off the hook. If we truly wanted to be great leaders, we’d stop whining over what’s been and start capitalizing on what’s here.
So, I’ll ask you now are you going to choose or excuse the opportunity to lead well? With the choice to lead with greatness comes the commitment to the following:
- To become a diligent student of the game.
- To honestly look at your shortcomings and work to improve.
- To openly listen to others feedback.
- To really seek a mentor or coach to help you.
- To focus on intense learning and training about how to coach others to win.
Why all of this? Great leaders are made not born.
Do you want to be a leader and achieve managerial excellence? Start by continuing your personal development. Focus on the outcomes not the obstacles. You are either part of the solution or you’re an ally to the problem. If you fail, ask, what can I learn from this and what will I do better or differently next time? Then, remember to focus on helping the people you work with–your team. They aren’t used to excellent leaders. They have to learn how to respond to your new approaches and your involvement in their success.
Success is indeed a state of mind. Leading is a state of mind, a habit that can be cultivated. Certainly, obstacles will arise. An architect has a blueprint to guide her work. Unforeseen problems always arise. The successful architect is persistent day in and day out, month in and month during the construction process working with project leaders or others to adapt and succeed. Leaders take the same approach whatever the problems are. In summary, to move from manager to leader (see 4 more tactics to help) you have to choose to achieve leadership excellence, experience is less important than what you decide to do today.
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