It is one thing to have a dream, even to have formed a plan – it is quite another to execute it. Most of us think we could have been a contender – if only…but then something got in the way, made us pause, slowed us down, we never got there …if only.
So, here’s the thing – if you really want to succeed, there can be no cover up, no turning a blind eye to the brutal facts that stare you in the face as you contemplate the steps to realising your dream and executing your plan. Leadership is about making important choices and then seeing them through. It will always include facing and clearing blockages along the way. It will include a determined list of what must be done by when and what must be stopped at once . Faced imperatives minus blockages equals action. These may include a rain check on loved ones, friends, even family. Gaining a fulfilled life and career can be at times a challenging and solitary adventure. A surprisingly large number of successful leaders have been loners – the Duke of Wellington was rarely at home for more than a few weeks in any one year; Churchill, alone in 1941 and 1942 dragged a nation into defiance.
Facing the brutal facts moreover will become one of the important and repeated themes of leadership:
- Does a team member measure up? Is the product quality good enough?
- Why did we succeed/fail this year?
- Are the directors really telling it how they see it?
Facing the facts is rarely easy, it has to be done and it cements the solitariness of leadership. Henry V on the eve of the battle of Agincourt, alone, passing through his sleeping army – “ a breath of Harry in the night”. Part of the decisive power of leaders comes from their preparedness to make decisions alone and to do so quickly. They know it is an essential part of building momentum.
None of this is to deny the value of trusted critics – you will need them too. Ulysses Grant standing aside around the whiskey bottle and spittoon listening to the complaints of his team of old friends from Ohio during the battle of Shiloh; Churchill quietly upbraided by his beloved Clementine.
Three big challenges at the start of becoming a successful leader:
- Define your dream.
- Form the plan.
- Face the brutal truths.
Have a good day