Fighting the Enemy that Blocks Success
Inexperienced leaders rage against wrongs they want to right but are short on solutions. It’s easy to point out inadequacies.
Experienced leaders stop raging against wrongs because they’ve experienced the challenge of finding solutions.
Are you wondering if things will ever change? Moving from idealism to implementation drains and may defeat you.
You need someone:
You may be at the deceptive stage of thinking you don’t need others. You’re confused and doomed. It’s true that leaders find themselves in the minority, standing against the tide, fighting norms, and battling stagnation. But there’s more.
Aloneness is the enemy of long-term success. It takes more than one to get it done. The greater the challenge the more people you need.
Find someone by being someone. Become a follower that helps others fight their battles and one day you’ll find that you are a leader with followers.
Following others invites them to follow you.
- Listen to the dreams of others; find them in their hopes and frustrations.
- Avoid offering solutions; embrace exploration.
- Make them feel understood, appreciated, and capable.
- Don’t push people to act; it makes them push back.
- Focus on the dream by ask what would happen if we did something.
You’ll get where you want to go by helping others get where they want to go. Embrace the idea that leaders serve others so others can serve others.
What do you do to address the problem of aloneness in leadership?
Don’t miss: “5 Cures for Leadership-loneliness”
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I was not aware that ” the greater the challenge the more people you need”. This is great and I will try to follow it. I do have problem of aloneness but that I enjoy. It is not that it is my weakness or fear but aloneness actually align my capability and strength to my dream. Everyday, I find closer to my dream. Somewhere I also think that it could be due to my personality traits.I concentrate more by practicing and teaching values. I agree that moving from idealism to implementation may actually drain and defeat you. Aloneness helps me to follow idealism and idealism strengthens my belief. That belief reinforce my learning. That learning finally moves me closer to my dream. This is virtuous cycle of my value chain.
But I know, sooner or later I will achieve my dreams that may look hazy today, but I am moving towards it. I also face more ups and downs than before. But I am more confident and determined to achieve my goal. And that credit goes to my personality and aloneness.
Ajay, you make a great point that when it comes to personal dreams, no one sees as clearly as you do. Then being alone is OK, because it often means you’re out ahead of everyone else. Kudos to you for persistently following your dreams — not everyone does.
I love the forward drive I read in your words. It encourages me to keep moving forward.
Thanks also for highlighting the upside of aloneness.
Always a pleasure,
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
I’ve found if I feel like I’m out there alone, it’s because I’m pursuing different goals than the organization. First step: What am I looking at that’s different than everyone else? If you share a common goal, there will be plenty of folks with you.
Dan, you remind me in this post of Covey’s stages of personal development, from dependence to indendence to interdependence. We do need each other, but too many get stuck on being independent instead. It takes a lot of confidence to move beyond a strong self to a decision to give up some freedom in order to be part of an effective group.
Would guess that many leaders hesitate to develop those interdependent synergies even though doing so can more quickly advance toward the organization’s goals and certainly produce a healthier, proactive organizational culture.
Tend to think the interdependencies have such a high level of trust and vulnerability that leaders may focus on ‘safer’ skill sets to develop.
Again, it is the case of short term/long term development, personally, professionally and organizationally.
Razor sharp insights there Doc. Your conclusion re: short-term v. long-term is masterfully put and very helpful.
It’s great reading your comments and insights. thank you.
Your practical idea that organizational alignment helps with the problem of aloneness is a wonderful addition to this discussion.
Years ago in the Air Force I was taught that leaders must also be followers. Was hard for a young man who saw the leaders as successful and the followers as “on the path to” However, with age and experience I believe it is true – that helping others, no matter the environment – will be best for the leader and fuels the subsequent growth, richness and success of the individual and organization.
Thanks for leaving your first comment on LF.
You make me think we are all always “on the path.” Arrival is for blind nitwits.
You’re right, Dan. Its much easier to rail against the system than to actually do something to change the system.
It is also a good point about becoming a good leader, byu being a good follower. The more people you help accomplish their tasks, the better they will understand you and vice versa. This points back to your article about listening. If you are a “lone ranger” who never listens and never takes advice, then you will “die” a “lone ranger” and the changes you think you have implemented are at risk of fading away with you.
You aren’t really leading if you are out there alone.
I spent many years taking pot shots at things I didn’t like and doing little else. Man those were the easy days!
Please don’t remind me of something I wrote previously. I can’t remember what I wrote yesterday…. 😉
It’s always a pleasure,
Aloneness is the enemy of long-term success.
I just wrote that on a sticky note and put it on my computer terminal. Great reminder.
And your comment helped it stick in my mind too… cheers!
Great post dan, I must admit – I read it a few times. I agree 100% with this article and in my words no one should go the island alone.
I read it a few times too…just to be sure I agreed with myself. 🙂
Thanks for the affirmation. Cheers
I don’t know how you manage to put out so much wisdom so many times in the day, Dan. Thank you! Your approach resonates deeply. It’s all about changing yourself to change others, isn’t it? That’s Leading By greatness! …there is no other way to do it.
Author: Lead By Greatness
Its just once a day…:-)
Thanks for leaving your first comments on LF. I appreciate it. I bopped over to your website. Love the basic ideas you address in your book.
So, instead of ‘Dan’ Quixote (although he did have Sancho and others) dreaming the impossible dream, you might advocate for a more team-driven, ‘book em Danno’ approach? Maybe it is an intermittent combo of both.
The work of leader is, on some levels, alone, leading to the ‘it’s lonely at the top’ mantra. There are times to hone a vision alone (then it is not a problem) and there are times as a group to attain alignment. A shared vision is more powerful than a single point of light.
What to do about aloneness–determine if it is self imposed and if it is really necessary or a variation on avoidance…ouch. Other things to do (emphasis on doing) read leadership books, read and participate in LF postings, look and learn from others. Who are your leaders who will follow you? They are there, just have to look past your own stuff. Once there are 2-3 or more, you are not alone and the interdependence can help drive the journey, then it gets fun.
Still the emphasis is on seeking/doing/engaging, not isolating, not complaining, not raging…
“One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world was better for this.” —Don Quixote
PS: Dynamic new header there Dan, way to change things up in your column!
KaChing! You outdid yourself.
Your wanderings around the theme of aloneness are superb. You open helpful paths to follow.
Thanks for demonstrating the good the bad and the ugly of aloneness.
Doc is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/doc
Hey and brownie points for noticing the new banner graphics. They should cycle between 3 banners.
Phew, I thought I was losing it when the banner changed again…either that or you were indecisive! 😉
Nice article Dan.
My main takeaway from this is that leading is both a team sport and an individual pursuit. The difficulty is making the necessary adjustments between one and the other of these approaches while the pieces of the game are dynamic and continually changing.
As noted by others, there are times when ‘aloneness’ or introversion are key ingredients in the leadership frame – e.g. honing ideas/strategies and reflection. Leading, by definition, means being a champion of change and pushing the boundaries of current realities – i.e. doing what no-one else is.
However, there are also most definitely times when being the only guy on the bus is a sure-fire way to cement failure as the ultimate outcome, because a big part of leading is inspiring others to help you achieve a vision of a better way for the collective that can’t be achieved by one person (no matter how strong or capable).
Further, leadership is not a skill that is achieved and retained in perpetuity thereafter, nor an award that is achieved and then put on the mantle. It is a process of constant challenge, uncertainty, renewal and improvement. The old adage that ‘you are only as good as your last…” applies here.
On the continuum between ‘leader’ and ‘mis-leader’, we all strive towards the ‘leader’ end of the spectrum, but there are inevitably setbacks, where due to excessive ‘aloneness’, human errors or unforeseen external changes etc we falter. The sign of a true leader is capturing the education that failure provides and harnessing those learnings to adjust their next move.
Interesting article and subsequent discussion.
Really like your spectrum of leader—misleader, great point Jon. Probably learn lots more when misled…course have to want to learn from it and own it openly…not so easily done…or accepted.
I think it’s vital to have an entrepreneurship mentor when you start out and you find yourself inadequate to take on the challenges that inevitably come in front of you. And it’s a good thing, ’cause if you feel like you take them on by yourself, you’re either clueless or you’re not trying to achieve anything special.
As a part of find someone to be someone, there also is that leadership legacy challenge/obligation.
Who will follow and then lead when you leave? Who are you mentoring?
At some point in your work journey, you will release the reins and reign, perhaps even to again follow, this time someone younger than you. Are you coaching/mentoring someone to do that?
If not, why not?
Hi Dan. Great discussion. Just did some research on this and featured it in my new book, The Anywhere Leader. What I found is that leaders either spend too much time alone or spend too much time in the crowd. My belief is that there is a time to get lost in your own thoughts and ideas — reflection. Start with alone time reflection. Once a leader has spent adequate time in reflection, then they can move to reception — open and embracing the ideas of others. Reflection first, then reception.
I just two of your blogs, and love them so much! You are an awesome leader and communicator. I feel like you are talking to me one-on-one! Thank you, Dan.