During the last 30+ years, I have visited with thousands of people in executive, management and supervisory positions. Over a meal, a cup of hot coffee, in the midst of a training, or via the phone, together we have explored a diversity of subjects, problems and issues, both large and small. Upon reflection, I have gleaned some unique insights about what separates the good leaders from the great ones. These lessons learned are not about big things such as the importance of good public speaking skills or the ability to explore things strategically as much as small personal choices which create the capacity to handle large or small things.
Recently, I was concluding a very good breakfast meeting when I realized something interesting. This particular leader was walking his path and owning his journey. This sounds simplistic on one level, but it is actually rare,
So many times, I meet leaders who want everything to go smoothly and without problems. They want everything to be perfect and without a single interruption or point of contention. They expect the world of leadership and organizational change to be hassle free. And they complain vigorously when it is not.
On this particular morning, I realized that this individual was not expecting any of that to take place. He had come to the conclusion that there will be problems and challenges, and that he was at peace with this. He was not trying to be someone else in some other place, or trying to mimic something that he had read in a book or article. Instead, he was at peace to walk his path in the world of leadership and to own it.
When I got back to the office, I realized that this was what set him apart from others. It was his choice to be at peace with the complicated and the complex. He was not afraid of the difficulties or the problems. He was not going to run away from them. He was simply going to keep moving forward.
Walking one’s path and owning it is not an easy choice, but it is a powerful one. To grasp the notion, that “on my watch and while I am in this leadership position, these are my challenges; this is my path.” And then to own it, in the sense of not shying away from the difficulties, the challenges and the work. This is what separated him from the rest that I regularly meet.
This week, be a leader who understands that life can at times be difficult and challenging. And then, keep moving forward in spite of the difficulties and the challenges. Walk the path. Own the path. Be at peace with the journey.