The Seven Choices of Exceptional Leaders
#1. Choose to be known for what’s in your heart.
Intelligence and skill matter most when they express your heart. Leaders who bypass their heart end up cold.
#2. Choose small now.
Don’t wait for dramatic. Don’t despise small steps that produce small results. Do something small rather than nothing at all.
Small beginnings that express your heart
take you further than no beginnings.
#3. Choose to develop people.
Your future is others. Without people the greatest program, project, or initiative dies.
Who precedes what.
Begin with their current state.
Identify a strength.
Put it to use.
Fix weaknesses that limit strengths.
Wishing people were different is a self-protective excuse for keeping things the same.
Spend time with “dumb” people who are willing to learn; forget smart people who won’t. Those who refuse to grow must go!
#4. Choose to help others do most of the things you do.
Work yourself out of jobs. Develop people who develop people, create programs, and solve problems. The reason you’re buried is you haven’t lifted others.
#5. Choose imperfect now over perfect later.
Launch – Fix – Re-launch – Repeat. Apologies to all the gasping perfectionists.
Dreams of perfection are nightmares to progress. The inability to identify “launch and grow” opportunities is one reason you’re stuck. For the record, I’m not suggesting a “let’s try this” approach with patients having heart surgery.
#6. Choose to fuel fires.
Lousy leaders spend their time putting out fires – solving problems and fixing things. See #4.
Walk around with a gas tank on your back. Pour gas on every flicker of passion you see. It won’t be long before the passions you fuel will consume the problems you fear.
#7. Choose to narrow your focus.
The greatest courage is the courage to say, “No,” to things that matter less.
Which choice is most important? Why?
What other choices do exceptional leaders make?
#1 is the same as the motto I run my department by. “Always Care!”
Hi Paul, thanks for sharing. It’s too easy to slip into habitual behaviors and forget to care.
Choose to fuel fires, I like that. I always say the aim is to strengthen the positive attributes to the point where the opposing negative ones become irrelevant.
It took me too long to learn that important lesson. We keep talking about what’s wrong and wonder why we have negative environments. Doh!
Choose to be authentic, it saves time, energy and confusion.
Choose to listen, it saves misunderstanding, and faulty assumptions, and you will probably learn something.
Choose what is just. It saves many hearts and egos from being bruised and damaged in the long term.
Wow! I enjoy all your additions Martina. Your explanation of the value of authenticity is gold.
“Choose to be known for what’s in your heart.” Amen. A great approach for everyone, not just leaders.
Really enjoyed your post today. I’m tweeting it in just a bit. Very entertaining and useful.
Thanks so much!
They are all so important Dan – I may add exceptional leaders choose integrity and honesty.
Not surprisingly (as a conflict management coach), I am especially drawn to #6 Choose to Fuel Fires. However, I would probably qualify it by adding that exceptional leaders choose to encourage healthy debate and encourage differences of opinions as opportunities to think bigger.
Great add. I find the trick to debate and sharing opinions is to always end up with positive action items. I hate it when these discussions degrade into complaining without solutions.
I absolutely love this post! Extremely transformational!!!
#2, #5, #7 all speak to me: #7 – Choose to narrow your focus, is the most challenging right now. Finding myself always attending to what is urgent, rather than important, is a situation that keeps recurring.It is indeed a matter of courage, Dan: but also a matter of discernment? How do you choose between the immediacy of email requests, for instance, vs more important priorities? (For instance, copious email replies are socially identified as a sign of efficiency.And neglect, a potential source of offense).
As I read your comment, I completely identify with the challenge of urgent over important. The first thought that came to mind was about setting time on things that must be done but aren’t the most important things.
15 minutes every hour doing things like answering email… then turn away to something important. Just a thought…
For me most important number one but it sounds like, define my why in my vocabulary and to my limbic brain. My Why is what is in my heart. It’s biogical so why not understand it and work with it?
Next is God thy will not mine be done
Then Trust God
Love not fear
Seek to understand not to be understood
And bonus number eighth serve others like I desire to be served cause how I desire to be served is how God sees fit.
Yeah that is the ticket…making copies.
When I follow these 8 and live each day like I am gonna expire at midnight I have a most excellent day.
Have to get to 12, special number
Be aware of wonder
Laugh at myself cause everyone else is
Live fully and bring myself to the point of tears with gratitude each day
Lastly above all let the people close to me that I love know how much they mean to me
SP back to the present
I wonder what insights you would add if you responded from a leadership rather than a personal point of view? Would it make a difference?
No difference, there is no separation with me or anyone else’s either for that matter.
Great question however.
You know Dan a therapist might hear your question and throw it back, right? If they were any good at therapy and such.
They might say so what I hear you saying is you do not take your Leadership personal?
If they asked that and I saw them separately BOY for a little bit I would hate them. Till I pondered a little bit and figured out that was a pretty darn good question.
Again question I have found never bother me in the least unless they force me into realizing I got a really lousy answer. You find questions are like that got you Dan?
Just my opinion based in my experience. If yours is different does not mean one right, one wrong. Means different is different is all.
I do not do well acting Scott Leader here, Scott friend there. Get my lines mixed up. God gave me one role and one role only in the each ness of the all ness of God. ME!
I got enough troubles playing my assigned role than by adding imaginary ones. Just how I roll!
SP back to the present in left field.
Love numbers 3 and 4! We’ve got to develop leaders so that our own scope can widen or narrow according to the needs and state of our organization(s). When you work yourself out of a job, you work yourself into something else, enabling yourself to move the organization forward and repeat the process! It’s the push-pull on the oars of your team!
I’m so glad you added the idea that working yourself out of a job isn’t about laziness or not doing. Great add
I would prefer ” Chose to develop people” initiative. This is important to me as people are the most essential components of society and hence organizations. I love to develop people who are generally unaware of what they are, what they do and how their actions influence surroundings. Many times, people do not realize the impact of their actions. They are even not aware about the image creating by others due to some ignorance. I equally love to develop people who are either isolated, deprived or underprivileged. These people need affiliation, love and affection. They do have potentials but due to certain blind spots of the privileged people, such people are deprived what they deserve. I derive sense of satisfaction and happiness when I see that such people developing or improving. When they develop some skills where people start accepting their potentials, that is the good moment.
Exceptional leaders do exceptional things. They do not do things to get attention or get noticed by others. They also do not do the things, they ensure their position, appreciation or image. But they do it because they think, every one is equal and every one has right to live with prestige. Exceptional leaders believe that they can develop leaders by sparking initiative among those who do not believe, they can do.
Out of the park today Ajay!!!! Watched it sail over the field fence I watch the game from.
One thing you said exception Leaders do exceptional things.
In my world exceptional People do exceptional things, some of those exceptional People are Leaders.
Great stuff today thanks.
SP back to the left portion of the field!
Nailing it today, Ajay. Thanks…
As I read your comment, I thought of several people where your comment applies. I need to help people see how they are currently influencing others and also help them see how they can be more effective. Challenging.
Choose to adopt an “In Spite of Spirit” Leaders lead in all seasons. In difficult or challenging times we must lead “in spite of” how we feel. There things we must go through instead of navigating around. This requires courage, faith and tenacity.
You turned over one of the distinguishing features of successful leaders. They just keep on keeping on even when it’s inconvenient.
I would not make a very good leader. I am always scared to fuel fires but you are right. Another great one ; O)
Thanks Kymee, Maybe just a few splashes of gas to begin with. 🙂 But seriously, it is sooo easy to douse people’s enthusiasm. Cheers
Excellent. A must read for leaders or those who aspire to be leaders.
Love them all! Thank you!
Your posts are so packed with wisdom. Maybe few words, but they all require multiple reads! I love this : “who precedes what”. That line by itself requires an hour a thought.
You sure know how to encourage a guy!
Great post! The last reminded me of a post I wrote on my blog. You can read it here if you like. http://www.traceylynnsthinktank.blogspot.com/2013/04/something-good-or-something-rightwhich.html
I probably struggle with the last one the most. Especially being a people person and an idea person, it’s sometimes hard to focus in on the really important people and things in my life. I get sidetracked a lot.
The comment regarding perfectionists made me laugh. Sometimes the fear of not doing something right paralyzes us.
Thanks for the thoughts.
Your future is others. Without people the greatest program, project, or initiative dies. Absolutely Prized!!
I love this post Dan…I’m reading a book by Patrick Lencioni titled The Advantage. Just started it actually and some of your points have popped up in his book in the first couple of chapters. I think it is going to be a very helpful read for leaders. Thanks.
Reblogged this on relationaltraction and commented:
Dan Rockwell’s blog, Leadership Freak, is one of my favorites. There is so much talk about Leadership these days around organizations; schools, businesses, churches, government, etc. Dan shares some great stuff and often links you to other good men and women who have great simple realities to focus all of us. This one titled: The Seven Choices of Exceptional Leaders, is very very good. Read it today…what are your thoughts?