Successful Leaders Have Mastered These 3 Fundamentals
If someone moved your copy of “Who Moved My Cheese?” would you even notice?
Leadership has not gotten any easier, but learning about it certainly has. There are books, blogs, podcasts, seminars, conferences, training and ... information on leadership is everywhere.
I had the opportunity recently to immerse myself in a leadership conference with some of the world’s most prominent speakers, authors, and authorities on leadership. The line-up included Simon Sinek, Patrick Lencioni, John C. Maxwell, Robert Herjavek, Lou Holtz and more!
As you can imagine, I spent the three days on the edge of my seat as they shared their wisdom. It also became very clear—that even with all this information at everyone’s fingertips—why we still have way too many struggling leaders.
It’s not hearing or reading about leadership, or relating to the inspiring stories that create strong leaders. Nope. It boils down to three fundamental things.
While each of the speakers took a different path to success—along with their own unique style and vernacular—every one of them drove home these three points for achieving success in business and in life.
Three fundamental requirements for leadership success:
- Clear, Written Goals: They begin with the end-state in mind—their vision of a better future, and they ask themselves this: “What needs to be true for me to be there, that is not true today ... and that’s why I am here?” or “What needs to have happened to bring me closer to my desired future?” And, the successful leaders always have these goals in writing—and for everyone to see! Without clear goals and I mean crystal clear goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable and time-bound), there can be no focused actions.
- Action Plans: With clear goals, successful leaders are intentional with their behavior. The key word here is intentional. Nothing happens by accident. They make plans, not excuses. They choose to act in ways that move them toward their goals. Leadership is a series of decisions and choices every day, all day. Making every decision in favor of supporting their clear, written goals is the way they ensure they and their teams are on the way to realizing them. These action plans are made up of small steps forward. Successful leaders know that their team is watching them and their choices. Their leadership actions (choices and decisions) must always match their goals.
- Disciplined Habit of Leadership: Here is what separates the leaders from the successful leaders: having a disciplined habit of leadership regardless of the distractions, derailments or triumphs. Lou Holtz says, “Do everything to the best of your ability." Everything. Always. Simon Sinek says “consistency, not intensity;” it’s the accumulation of the little stuff done every day. John C. Maxwell says consistency is what compounds and that is what drives success. Think about it. If you do anything for a few days or even a couple of weeks, there is generally no reward. That’s why people give up. It takes time. It takes consistency. If you do something every day for a year, you will see change. You will. So, make sure it’s the change you want to see. (refer to 1 and 2)
A goal, an action plan and the habit of leadership or the discipline to stay focused through all distractions, derailments and triumphs. It’s not rocket science. It’s not mind-blowing insight. It’s a process and a process that must be followed with discipline.
And this is why there are still so many leaders that struggle. They don’t have all three and they most certainly don’t have a system of support and accountability that will help them develop a disciplined habit of leadership. At Butler Street, we understand the power of consistency, discipline and habit. We know it’s hard work, and we know it leads to growth. If you are interested in growing your company and your people, we can help you and your leaders get above the maze and notice when the cheese has been moved. Call us…
Mary Ann McLaughlin serves as a Managing Partner at Butler Street, a leading management consulting, training and research firm that focuses on client and talent development. Prior to Butler Street, she served in executive roles for 13 years including chief operating officer, president and managing director. A Six Sigma Champion certified executive, McLaughlin leverages her robust process background with 32 years of sales and operational experience.
A recreational triathlete, McLaughlin has completed three marathons (Chicago 2x, Marine Corps) and numerous triathlons. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Bradley University.