We all have so much to do that setting our sights on anything above surviving the daily rush can seem unthinkable. Thus, organizations without strong leaders surrender to the daily struggles and believe that tomorrow or next quarter or next year will be a better time to start making changes. Unfortunately, tomorrow is always tomorrow. That’s why leaders insist on starting today. Leaders don’t wait.
1. Leaders Create Time By Creating a Shared Vision
If you create a shared vision of a better future state, you will generate energy, commitment, and time people didn’t know they had. If people are excited about a better future, their excitement propels them forward. They find a way. They become more productive. They see habits that should be crushed and tasks that should be dropped. They cooperate and ask for help. They propose new methods and discover shortcuts. With determination and focus, people can achieve amazing things. Leaders create that shared vision that inspires people to find a way.
2. Leaders Focus
If you have too many priorities, you have no priorities. You must keep the list short so people can focus. Those tough decisions – what not to do, what to outsource, what to postpone, and what to do less well – are critical. Leaders create that focus for themselves and others.
3. Leaders Raise the Bar
Think you are pretty good? Settling for pretty good? If you grew at 20% last year, maybe you didn’t set your goal high enough. Leaders expect success to be a stepping-stone to greater success, not a pot in which to grow complacency and arrogance. They celebrate success and then raise the bar.
4. Leaders Have the Courage to Take Risks
Certainty doesn’t exist, never has, and never will. There is always more to learn. There is always one more experiment to run. One more person to ask. All of which leave you in pretty much the same place you started – uncertain. You have to take prudent risks. Leaders have the courage to act.
5. Leaders Forgive
Failures are inevitable. If you try something new, you risk failing. But you must forgive yourself and others when this occurs because not trying is the kiss of death. The status quo is the road to mediocrity, shrinking margins, and lost customers. Leaders forgive and keep trying.
6. Leaders Learn
With every success, big or small, you need to celebrate and learn. Figure out how you can replicate, amplify, or accelerate that success. With every mistake or missed opportunity, you need to learn. Figure out exactly what went wrong so you can avoid suffering the same fate once again. Leaders learn constantly from both successes and failures and insist others do likewise.
7. Leaders Know Comfort Zones Are Meant to be Broken
People learn little to nothing when they relax within their comfort zones. Step outside those zones and growth comes fast: new perspectives, increased self-confidence, stronger skills, greater understanding, new ideas, clearer vision, greater determination, increased tolerance – to name a few. Take care of your own growth first by taking on new challenges, going new places, meeting new people, and generally putting yourself in new situations. Give your employees new opportunities and encouragement to do the same. If you make growth safe and expected, your employees will thrive and so will your business. Leaders don’t let comfort zones hinder growth.
8. Leaders Don’t Wait
Don’t wait until the time is right. It never is. If you insist on getting all your ducks in a row, you’ll never make a move; ducks just aren’t that well behaved. Besides, some of them should be flushed and scattered. If you are serious about progress, whatever direction you are headed, start today. Make a commitment. Ask for help and cooperation. Identify the first step. Start the ball rolling today. Leaders simply don’t wait.