Understanding the Keys to Lasting Leadership

Lasting leadership goes beyond holding a position of authority; It involves inspiring and guiding others over the years and in any circumstances toward a common purpose. While leadership styles may vary, the keys to enduring leadership, as Marshall Goldsmith observed in his work with leaders, revolve around three core qualities: courage, humility, and discipline. In this article, you will be able to explore them in detail and learn how you can develop them to become a more effective and permanent leader.

Courage is essential

Leadership development requires you to confront the reality of how you are perceived by others, not just how you see yourself.

Courage is the willingness to face difficult truths about oneself and one’s impact on others. It’s about having the guts to solicit honest feedback and to look in the mirror, seeing yourself as others see you, not just as you wish to be seen. This is not an easy task, as it often involves confronting uncomfortable realities and challenging one’s self-image.

Courage also involves taking action on what you’ve learned from feedback. It’s about making changes, even when they’re difficult or when there’s a risk of failure. Leaders must have the courage to implement new behaviors and to step out of their comfort zones.

Moreover, courage in leadership is about setting an example for others to follow, by addressing company-wide issues with common-sense solutions that can be quickly implemented, leading to immediate improvements. It’s about giving permission to all levels of employees to contribute ideas and drive change, effectively bypassing the “frozen middle” of an organization.

In essence, courage is the foundational quality that allows leaders to initiate and sustain the process of personal and organizational change. It’s what enables leaders to practice and develop confidence, and ultimately, to fulfill their purpose and help others realize their potential.

Humility is critical

Humility in leadership is the recognition of one’s own limitations and fallibility. It’s a quality that’s not found in abundance among leaders, as it requires setting aside one’s ego. You must acknowledge that there is room for improvement. This means apologizing for past mistakes and actively seeking help from others to get better.

It’s about being open to input and feedback, and being willing to admit that you may not always have the right answer. Humility allows leaders to question their own beliefs, consider evidence critically, and be open to alternative viewpoints. This intellectual humility can lead to better decision-making, improved relationships, and organizational progress.

As a leader, humility also involves showing respect for others by valuing their ideas and contributions, even when they differ from your own. It’s about fostering an environment where team members feel empowered to take ownership and contribute to problem-solving. Humility in leadership is not about being timid or weak; it’s about having the strength to acknowledge that you don’t know everything and that others can provide valuable insights that can lead to better outcomes for the team and the organization.

Discipline leads to long-term success

Discipline in leadership is the commitment to consistent actions and behaviors that align with one’s goals and responsibilities. It is the third and most important key because even with courage to face feedback and the humility to acknowledge the need for improvement, it’s the consistent, day-to-day effort that leads to lasting change in behavior.

It involves setting a good example for others by adhering to a set of principles and standards, even when it is challenging. As a leader, discipline means doing what you have committed to do and being who you are striving to be at every moment, regardless of the difficulties you may face.

For leaders, working on things they expect to pay off in the future is difficult when they are grappling with things that must get done in the present. That is a fact of life, so they must be prepared to juggle. Discipline requires keeping something up even when it is hard, and it often means prioritizing long-term success over short-term gratification.

In his teachings, Marshall Goldsmith emphasizes that meaningful action requires repetition, and repetition requires discipline. It’s about sticking to a routine, managing any defensive reactions when others point out what you have not done well or what you could do better, and spending the needed time to change a behavior that is not comfortable for you. Discipline is also about spending a few minutes every day reviewing a checklist of actions you are implementing from your plan to improve.

In summary, discipline in leadership is about the dedication to continuous improvement, the perseverance to maintain focus on your goals, and the resilience to overcome obstacles along the way.

Leadership is not a static state but a continuous process

Enduring leadership is akin to staying in shape; you don’t just reach a level of fitness and stop. You have to keep working at it. It involves ongoing self-improvement, learning from mistakes, and being open to change..

By applying these fundamental keys, you can become a more effective leader, capable of facing the challenges of the present and the future and leading with confidence and determination.

Leadership development is a journey that never really ends

Learn more with Stakeholder Centered Coaching®  online, by completing a free course, or by scheduling a call with an in-house expert.


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