Why Some Leaders Stick and Other Leaders Quit

Grit isn’t the reason people endure.

Grit is disappointing because it develops as-you-go, not before you go.


Grit is irrelevant when you already feel strong, capable, and confident. Difficulty, distress, weakness, and inadequacy make grit relevant.

Gritty leaders press forward in spite of feelings, not because grit makes everything easy.

If you’re looking for easy, get out of leadership.


If grit isn’t developed until you need it, what energizes endurance in the first place?

Attitude – not strength and competence – is the secret of endurance.

Grit isn’t the source of endurance, joy is.

A leader with joy keeps going when she’s exhausted or uncertain. Joy isn’t exception. And grit doesn’t make everything easy.


#1. Responsibility to unfinished work enables leadership joy.

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears … to an unfinished work will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the why for his existence and will be able to bear almost any how.” Victor Frankl

The defiant joy of leadership is readiness to make things better for others.

#2. Purpose fuels leadership joy.

Service to others expresses purpose and clarifies meaning.

Purpose is discovered in usefulness.

Purpose is found in connection with something outside yourself.

  • How is your work useful to others?
  • How might you best serve?
  • What pressing need do you most frequently notices? How might you meet that pressing need?
  • How is organizational purpose focused on serving others?

Self-serving purpose creates fear. Other-serving purpose fuels energy.

A leader without purpose sacrifices usefulness on the altar of near-term enjoyment. Why sacrifice for the future if there’s no purpose?

Tip: Meaning comes from feeling useful. When you help people see the usefulness of their work you help them find meaning in work.

What fuels endurance?

How might leaders develop grit in themselves and others?

Added material:

Grit (Duckworth)

7 Ways Top Leaders Develop Grit on Their Team (Inc)

Organizational Grit (HBR)