A little over five years ago, I started writing here. Sometimes, I’ve written consistently. Mostly not.
It’s really hard to write when life is hard, and the last few years have been hard. (The “fall asleep at 7pm with your shoes on and contacts in” kind of hard.)
Recently, I took some time to think about whether I wanted to keep writing. And if so, why.
I had some interesting thought conversations with myself (and a few others), and I decided that I did. More than anything, I decided that there was a group of people I wanted to support and serve.
They’re the folks I work alongside each day and trade stories with on weekly accountability calls. They’re the ones struggling with growing businesses and expanding teams. They’re the ones guiding their communities during difficult times. They’re the ones with a vision for a better future, overwhelmed with the new challenges each day brings.
And few of us are talking about how hard Leadership really is.
As Ben Horowitz says, “It’s like the fight club of management: The first rule of the CEO psychological meltdown is don’t talk about the psychological meltdown.”
Aside from just talking about it, I think we can use our habits to survive and become better leaders.
Intentionally developing my habits is how I’ve ended up with the second longest tenure at the helm of what must be the bucking bronco of organizational structures, a non-profit homeowner association with for-profit subsidiaries. And after dozens of interviews, I believe the same is true for other effective leaders. (Have a listen to a few: Ron Kitchens, Meron Bareket, John Dumas, Sarah Peck)
I’ve decided that my mission is to become the best leader I can be and share what I’m learning with others. It is certain to require endless evolution.
First Step: Definition
For me, the first step was to define excellence in leadership. I believe it has four components.
1. Acceptance of responsibility for decision-making
This isn’t authority. In fact, it’s often the opposite. This is acknowledgment that you’ll regularly need to make all sorts of decisions, some with seemingly no right answer. As a result, you’ll take responsibility for preparing yourself daily, physically and emotionally, and building support and information systems to brace yourself with.
2. Focus on empowering and enriching others
While a focus on improving one’s personal situation can be positive, I don’t think it is leadership. At least not the kind I’m focused on. I believe the goal or vision has to primarily be about a positive outcome for others.
3. Willingness to embrace accountability and vulnerability
Leaders often don’t receive honest feedback. I believe that excellent leaders specifically seek it out and demonstrate a desire to use it constructively. They understand the power of accountability and make it a priority. They also share when they come up short so it can become a learning experience.
4. Commitment to continuous learning
Excellent leaders never want to be ripe – lookin’ good on the outside, but dying on the inside. The only antidote is to stay connected to the tree, recognizing that your skills will always need to grow.
Do you agree?
Now for the interactive part –
Do you agree with this definition? What’s missing?