I spend a lot of time thinking about leadership, and more specifically what it takes to be an effective leader. So much is written about this topic (including this blog) that it almost seems impossible to read it all, process it in a timely way, and execute the approaches that make the most sense to us in our professional lives.
We have so many options to consider, perhaps we are over-thinking the core concepts of leadership; and in so doing, we're missing opportunities to achieve our primary goal of leading effectively.
Use The Data
The more I struggle with my own leadership and the behaviors of other leaders, I find myself returning to the work Jim Collins did relative to Level 5 Leaders. The piece in Harvard Business Review is a fantastic resource that describes what it takes to get to this lofty status.
Collins' data suggests that there are two primary behaviors that are essential for leaders to move beyond their own myopic view of the world: humility and fierce resolve.
When was the last time you tried that combination at the office?
What It Means To Me
Read the article, I don't need to reprise it here. The evolution in my thinking has shifted from Collins' focus areas and the subsequent hierarchy of achieving Level 5 status down to one word: sacrifice.
What comes to mind when you hear that word? Pain? Suffering? Loss of personal or professional freedom?
Sacrifice to me means all of those things and more. It's a commitment to something more important than ourselves; yet at the same time it can be a selfish move too. Sometimes we make sacrifices for others or our organizations. In fact, that type of sacrifice has dominated much of my life.
There is another type of sacrifice. When we take risks to try new things...when we test out new strategies that others have been afraid to try...when we move out of our comfort zones...these are sacrifices too.
When we are willing to sacrifice our credibility in order to achieve a breakthrough that could benefit our companies and ourselves, we are also making a sacrifice. Those sacrifices are not easy...in fact, most don't dare give them a try.
How About You
How do you define success? Are risk-taking and sacrifice part of your definition of effective leadership? For me, they are two of the most important pieces. Think about what is most important to you. This stuff matters.
I'd love to hear from you.