A leader’s greatest challenge is the same challenge we all face everyday—making ourselves do the things we don’t want to do!
Leader Is As Leader Does
How often do we say to ourselves that we want a certain result, but because we know there are required actions, like learning new skills, or changing a negative behavior, or adding positive behaviors, that we give up and never get the result we originally desired. We don’t do what it takes and then we justify to ourselves that NOW is not the best time. We tell ourselves we will do it later, but how often do we actually do it later?
Poor leaders are not poor because they choose to be. Poor leaders are poor leaders because they have not chosen not to be a poor leader!
Doctors are doctors and architects are architects because at some point they chose to be.
Where leadership differs from most professions is that in most professions you have to first acquire the skills, then begin to practice the profession. In our society, leaders are chosen based on technical skills and allowed to practice before acquiring the necessary leadership skills. Couple that with the fact that most leaders choose not to add the skills that would make them a highly effective professional leader and the results are often scary:
The NIOSH report on the right is an excellent resource that cites the following:
- 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful
- 25% view their jobs as the number one stress producer in their lives
- Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems
- 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help
- 14% of respondents had felt like striking a coworker in the past year, but didn’t
- 25% have felt like screaming or shouting because of job stress, 10% are concerned about an individual at work they fear could become violent
- 9% are aware of an assault or violent act in their workplace and 18% had experienced some sort of threat or verbal intimidation in the past year
- The American Dream? 73% of American workers say they would not want their boss’s job
How much of the stress that the American workers go through has to do with leaders choosing not to add the skills that would make them highly effective professional leaders? To research that question we have only to think of the leaders we work with and ask ourselves this: “How often do the leaders we work with choose to add skills to become more effective leaders?”
For most of us the answer will be “Not often enough.”
And this is not just an American phenomenon. With globalization and homogenization of business and cultural practices, these results hold up in many other countries around the globe. A popular definition of insanity is–doing the same thing you done before and expecting a different result. As crazy as it sounds, how many of us see people do this stagnation practice every day?
To get a different result it takes different action. Really think about that and the real implications of breaking through personal habits and norms. This is the first step into a new personal leadership model that gets better results.
The challenge all people face every day (leaders included), is making ourselves do things we know we need to do to get the results we wish for! Test yourself to see if you meet the challenge.
Ask yourself these questions:
What skills have I added in the last six months that I have successfully used and became more effective as a leader?
When is the last time I put adding skills off that I know I need to learn?
Am I the best leader I can be?
Is anyone that works with me one of the stressed out workers indicated in the above poll results?
Would life be easier and more rewarding if I added more skills?
It’s easy to choose not to do something for ourself and others. Be bold. Be brave. And let’s get tough and choose to do what’s necessary to be the person and leader that creates and enjoys the success we want! You can do this!
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A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC. He is author of “21st Century Leadership–How to Lead Effectively and Develop People Successfully”. www.adroberts.com
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