Often, one of the major differences between superb leaders and the vast majority of those in leadership positions, is what they demand of themselves, and what quality of work or results they are satisfied by. Aristotle wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act but a habit.” In over three decades of working closely with over a thousand leaders, qualifying, training and developing them, I have always emphasized that since a true leader’s attitude and expectations often dramatically impacts the results, that leaders must never settle for less than their best efforts.
1. There is no such thing in leadership as good enough. Since others look at a leader for guidance, the leader’s expectations often become others goal, and it gives them something to aim for. So much organizational success is dependent on planning, and making sure all details, action plans, etc., are articulated clearly and communicated adequately, and thus when a leader accepts less than his own personal best, it is not surprising when others settle for even less. Great leadership only occurs when a leader is able to effectively motivate others to understand and believe in his vision, and that vision’s importance and value to the organization and its members.
2. It is often easiest to observe this difference between demanding excellence and accepting mediocrity when one objectively looks at the performance of financial officers. Since this type of office is, by necessity, often most involved and detail oriented, only someone who is willing to look at the what is, what was, and what could and should be, is truly great at this position. Unfortunately, these types of financial officers are the exception and not the rule, as we generally observe office holders who are either unable (due to inadequate training, skill or expertise), or unwilling to do what is necessary to do the job with excellence. As important as leadership training is important for any position, financial leadership training is far more involved and detailed. Unfortunately, in my over thirty years of experience and observation, I have witnessed that only a small percentage seem to strive for excellence.
3. Leadership training requires training, then learning and then effective utilization of that knowledge and skills. Part of leadership training should be hands- on experiences under qualified guidance, so that an individual can learn and apply that knowledge in phases. This repetition is what makes it a true skill.
It is important to differentiate repetition from skilled repetition. Just as a great athlete only becomes great when he practices, using proper form and concentration, a leader will only become great when excellence is the only thing he might even consider. Leadership is multi- phased, and a true leader becomes accomplished in all aspects of areas that might have a bearing on his excellence. It also requires a mindset or attitude of demanding excellence of himself, and emphasizing communication, understanding and effective listening, combined with absolute and unbending integrity.
Richard Brody has over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience. He has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc.