Disastrous Leadership Approach, The I Will Get the Results No Matter What it Takes Person

The I’ll-get-the-results-no-matter-what-it-takes Approach is used by the person who tosses out ethics on the road to hitting a number.

Bernard Madoff, Ken Lay, and Bernie Ebbers. The names have almost slipped away from people’s memories, yet these individuals cheated big time and robbed their companies and society of tens of millions of dollars. If you can’t operate with integrity, you cannot be a great business leader. It really is that simple and straightforward.

Two Questions to Avoid The I’ll-get-the-results-no-matter-what-it-takes Approach 

1. Are you getting the business results in a way that you would be willing to explain to anyone in your business or at home?

2. If you’re not comfortable with the way in which you get business results, what alternative approach can you use that will allow you to sleep at night?

Disastrous Leadership Approach, The Superhero

The Superhero is the person who keeps working longer hours in an attempt to continually improve results.

This person thinks if his or her predecessor got pretty good results working 40 hours a week than he or she will produce amazing results by working 80 hours a week. At first people admire this person’s superhuman effort and the results do improve for awhile. The problem sets in when this person thinks that just putting in longer hours is the key to success. It’s not the number of hours that produces better results, but the number of quality hours. The other problem occurs when this person thinks he or she is a superhero who will never tire out. Eventually burnout sets in and this person becomes very ineffective.

Two Questions to Avoid The Superhero Disastrous Leadership Approach

1. How many hours of work, including travel, did you put in last month?

2. How many of those hours do you think were of real quality toward improving your desired business outcomes?

The Orchestrator

The Orchestrator is the leader who thinks through the sequence of activities and conversations that need to occur in order to improve a result.

Through discussions with executives in a wide variety of corporations I’ve learned that it is not enough to know what to do and who to meet with in order to improve a result or gain support for a new project. You have to think through the order of who to talk to first, second, and third, and which activity needs to be accomplished first, second, and third. If you just move into action without orchestrating the sequence of people and events, then you may very well never gain any support or momentum for the project.

Two Questions for The Orchestrator Approach to Leadership

1. Who are five individuals or groups that you need to gain the support of in order for your project to succeed?

2. In what order do you need to meet with these people to gain their support so that in the end your project will gain the support it needs to succeed?

Leadership Thinking Exercises

I’m reading a book called “The Spiritual Exercises” by Ignatius of Loyola. It was written in 1524, almost 500 years ago. In the first set of exercises, the emphasis is on thinking back over the previous twelve hours of the day and determining what you did well and what you did not do well in order to perform better in the future. The recommendation is to set aside time to think once in the morning and once in the evening and discern what can be learned from those twelve hours in order to improve your behavior in the next twelve hours.

Think, act, reflect, discern, think, act, …

What a powerful sequence for all business leaders. Take time in the morning to reflect on the previous evening. What did you do well, what did you do poorly, and what did you learn from your evening activities whether you were with business associates, family members or friends that you can use to improve your thoughts, words, and actions over the next twelve hours? Then take time in the evening to reflect on the previous morning and afternoon. What did you do well, what did you do poorly, and what did you learn from those previous twelve hours?

These simple periods of reflection and discernment can help us stay focused throughout the day and allow us to intentionally improve our performance as leaders day after day.

Keep Things in Perspective and Keep Improving

I love the phrase “Things are never quite as good as they seem, nor as bad as they seem, but somewhere in between reality lies.” I first heard it from Lou Holtz.

Today the Dow Jones is very nearly at its all-time high, just shy of 15,600. The U.S. national debt today is at an all-time high of $16.74 Trillion. Is this the best of times or the worst of times for the U.S. economy?

Parents in the U.S. spend vastly more now on youth sports camps and travel sports teams than at any point in time in history. Children in the U.S. are on average more obese than they have ever been. Are American children getting fitter or fatter?

Are you performing great or poorly as a business leader? Don’t get caught up in one great result or one great failure. Keep learning, stay focused, strive to make today better than yesterday, and steadily improve your abilities and your execution. Some days will feel like a championship parade and other days will seem like a bankruptcy. Keep learning, stay focused, strive to make today better than yesterday, and don’t get caught up in evaluating yourself by a set of statistics. Over the long run you will be very successful if you just keep things in perspective and keep performing better and better.