In a world where many try to jump into the spotlight and create the false impression they have discovered something that nobody before them has ever considered, Angela Duckworth provides a welcome alternative.
Duckworth confirms what we have known in our hearts all along about peak performance. Peak performance has almost nothing to do with a natural talent for a given field of endeavor, but rather everything to do with passion, drive and determination. Tiger Woods didn’t become Tiger Woods simply because he was naturally gifted and destined to golf greatness. Tiger Woods became Tiger Woods because he was obsessed with becoming Tiger Woods! In Anders Ericsson’s terms, Tiger Woods had probably invested 10,000 hours honing his craft before the age of eight.
In a research project conducted with Anders Ericsson, we sought to evaluate the impact of Deliberate Practice on becoming a better leader. Here is an article that encapsulated our findings: Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect … Perfect Practice Makes Perfect: An In-Depth Study of Virtual Leadership Development.
Qualities Of A Good Leader
Expands Their Reach
Great leaders figure out that it is not about them. Sounds simple, but it really isn’t. Each one of us is hardwired with a preference when it comes to leading people:
- Some of us are natural facilitators
- Some of us are natural delegators
- Some of us are naturally directive
Great leaders understand there is nothing inherently good or bad about any of these leadership styles. Each of these approaches works and each of them doesn’t. It truly depends upon the unique circumstances of the situation the leader is attempting to impact. Great leaders work hard to develop proficiency with every available approach.
Double Down On Their Investments
Great leaders also understand the reciprocal relationship between leadership and power:
- Legitimate Power: This is the influence potential that comes with your position in your organization
- Referent Power: This is the influence potential that comes from establishing trust with others
When the people you are attempting to influence trust you, they tell you the truth. When people tell you the truth, the complications associated with leadership are significantly reduced. Great leaders exercise their Legitimate Power in a manner that tends to enhance their Referent Power. They also intentionally invest in building bonds of trust every chance they get with everyone around them.
Relentlessly Develop Their Awareness
Great leaders are distinguished by their Emotional Intelligence. First and foremost, they are aware of themselves. They have taken time over the years to understand their emotions, the events that tend to trigger those emotions and the consequences associated with simply letting those emotions give way to an impulsive response.
Great leaders are also acutely aware of others. Beyond that, they increase the Emotional Intelligence of those around them by acting on that awareness. They ensure the “hard-charging” members of their teams understand the potential unintended consequences associated with their unbridled drive, while also making sure the more introverted members of their team come to grips with the potential consequences of withholding their perspective.
In conclusion, it would appear that regardless of the amount of natural leadership talent you were born with, becoming a great leader is akin to becoming great at anything else! You have to have passion for it. You have to engage in it. And you have to go out of your way to receive both feedback and feedforward, from an invested stakeholder.