Just this week I have had five different people tell me they were struggling to be an effective leader. I wasn't surprised; leading other people is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. What did strike me as odd was that when pressed, each person mentioned various challenges, but always ended the conversation with the same response;
It couldn’t be a coincidence. “It’s fine” is a negative statement that screams mediocrity. When leaders are mediocre or just plain crummy, the people they lead suffer. They end up leaving a career before they should, they stop developing their skills, and they lose confidence in their abilities.
I am not okay with “It’s fine.” In fact, it shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary, particularly those who lead other people. On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Jerome Peribere gave a definition of leadership that was unassailable: "The Art of Creating Followship."
How are leaders going to create followship by saying “it’s fine”?
Every day, a leader has one of two choices:
The secret to modern leadership is this; it’s not about the leader. Until you make the decision to think about the people you serve, you can’t lead effectively.
When you choose to serve others, you can change your response from “it’s fine,” to “it’s great”. Here are a couple things you can do the help shift your mindset:
Leadership is a journey not a destination. Much like marriage or parenting there are going to be many ups and downs. Your development and evolution as a leader will improve over time as long as you commit to the craft.
Simon Sinek said it best, “the one thing all effective leaders have in common without question is courage.” He is spot on because being an effective leader means doing the right things -- the things you believe in regardless of the pressure you face from the outside world. Most people think courage comes from within, but in fact, it comes from those with whom you surround yourself. You can’t just go to a four-day Tony Robbins retreat and become courageous. Your courage will come over time as the people that are in your inner circle encourage and praise you for your courage.
Humility is hard, but it’s also attractive. As I shared last week, you stop getting better the moment you think “I’m that good.” This doesn’t mean you shouldn't have confidence or ambition. It means stop putting your own needs, wants and desires above your people's. As you help your people achieve, you will achieve.
Going to Crossfit one day won’t produce results. Going to Crossfit, the second day won’t produce results. Going to Crossfit 5 days a week and eating correctly will produce results...over time. The same discipline is required to garner results as a leader. Your attitude, optimism, humility, courteousness, and openness to learning has to be present every day and this takes discipline.
If you can keep these things in mind, the next time someone asks you about your job as a leader you won't have to say, "it's fine."
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.