The Ultimate Pursuit of Leadership
It’s normal to complain; it’s leadership to make something better.
The consistent pursuit of improvement yields unfathomable advantage.
Improvement is the ultimate pursuit of leadership.
Choose the goal:
Know where you’re going before you begin. Stephen R. Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind®,” in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Improvement is success if you improve the right things.
When you aspire to remarkable leadership, begin in three areas: self-knowledge, strengths/talents, and fatal flaws.
Pursuit #1: Improve self-knowledge:
“Everything in leadership starts with self-reflection,” says Harry Kraemer, former CEO of Baxter Pharmaceuticals. Harry told me the biggest challenge of leadership is knowing yourself. If you don’t know yourself, you can’t lead yourself. If you can’t lead yourself, how can you lead others?
Pursuit #2: Improve strengths and talents:
Gallup says, “A strength is the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a specific activity. Talents are naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied.”
Pursuit #3: Improve fatal flaws:
Not all flaws are equal.
Some flaws are low-impact inconveniences. Other weaknesses are fatal flaws that hold you back.
10 fatal flaws of leadership:
- Low energy and enthusiasm.
- Accepting mediocrity.
- Lack of vision and direction.
- Poor judgement.
- Resistance to collaboration.
- Not walking the talk. Inconsistency.
- Resisting new ideas.
- Not learning from mistakes.
- Lacking personal skills. (Low EQ)
- Failing to develop people.
The above list is adapted from the research of Zinger and Folkman.
Pursuit oriented questions:
Ask questions that reflect commitment to improvement:
- What can we make better today? Embrace the brutal facts and work to improve something.
- What’s the next step? Leaders think more about the next step than the last step.
- What roadblocks to progress can we remove?
- What’s holding us back? (Ask with the intention of accelerating improvement.)
What will you improve today?
A personal afterword:
On a personal level I work to improve two things, simplicity and writing. It’s distraction when we try to improve everything. Focus on aspirations. I aspire to a simple life, and I aspire to be a good writer.
Dan, I love the definitions of strengths and talents. And thank you for the reminders of fatal flaws. That list shows areas where I need strengths in the opposite direction!
Thank you Peter. Gallup’s work in this area is so useful. Cheers