The funny (as in odd) thing about the idea of leadership is there’s nothing particularly challenging about it. We’re not unifying theories of physics or contemplating the greater meaning of life. Leadership is common sense. Why then, do so many fail to get it right?
Leadership must be like dieting. We all know the behaviors that lead to the good results, it’s just easier to do the opposite.
In program after program where participants are asked to list the behaviors of leaders they deem effective, the same items not-so-magically appear on the flip charts and whiteboards.
When asked how many regularly incorporate the behaviors on the lists, participants caught up in the spirit of self-reflection are often moved to confess they can do better. Much better.
“Why?” I ask, probably sounding a bit desperate as I hopefully move closer to the truth of why effective leadership is so vexingly elusive in many of our workplaces.
Sadly, the answers are never particularly insightful. In fact, all of them sound a lot like the dieting and health club excuses. No time. Too busy. No discipline. Too tired.
It’s easier to grab that doughnut than pass it by. It’s easier to push off delivering that constructive feedback discussion than invite discomfort into our work day. It’s easier to focus on the base needs of the person staring back at us in the mirror than to put the interests of those who work for us first.
We know what we’re doing wrong, and we accept it. That’s too bad, because leadership is common sense in action.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Leadership is the easiest hard work you’ll ever do. Or, maybe it’s the hardest easy work. You can eat the doughnut or spend more time working out. There’s no argument which choice offers better returns. The same goes for leading.