The Major Attributes of Leadership #14:

Persistence: The world of business and entrepreneurship … the world in which Princes and Princesses are forged … tests the resolve of Leaders by throwing up many roadblocks to success. Such obstacles range from twists of fate to outright opposition from competitors or those who feel jealous over our success. No one who accepts failure, from themselves or from others, can be a great leader. Any worthwhile endeavor will need to overcome many challenges before success and profitability are met.  Here are a few examples of persistence and the rewards it yields:

  • Thomas Edison is said to have failed in his attempts to invent the light bulb 1,000 times. When a reporter asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times he observed, “I did not fail 1,000 times, the light bulb was an invention that required 1,000 steps to succeed”.
  • Henry Ford failed 5 times before succeeding with the automobile assembly line.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He said, “I have failed many times, that is why I succeed”.

The fact that realizing success requires persistence is how the universe filters out those who deserve success from those who do not. Refusal to accept defeat is the evidence of “Belief” and the energy of belief (or faith) is an immutable force that yields tangible results.  It is a law of the universe no different than the law of gravity.  You can’t see it, but the evidence of its existence is incontrovertible.

One of the pieces of fatherly wisdom that I have shared with my daughter many times is the following quote which I coined:

“Nothing worth doing is easy, and nothing easy is worth doing”.

Great leaders do not accept failure as an option. Obstacles are perceived as opportunities, not ends. Persistence, hand in hand with flexibility and good humor, enable the creative and resourceful leader to draw the best out of his or her followers and inspire confidence in the inevitability of success and profitability for all involved.

The Major Attributes of Leadership #13:

Good Humor: Another “Core Value” that I have found to be integral to great leaders is a sense of humor. Not just in the form of telling jokes or sharing anecdotes to entertain, but more importantly by having a good humor about changing circumstances, challenges, turns of fortune and in trying to fill the emotional needs of our followers. A great leader, while not taking risk or potential failure lightly, still can see the irony in changing events, politics, economics, market trends, etc. and laugh in the face of what some may see as disaster.

Leaders who become overly excited or exacerbated due to turns of fate and stomp around yelling, pointing fingers and creating mayhem are called “fire starters”.  Nobody wants to work in an environment where everything becomes a fire drill, where the consequences of things not going perfectly are painted as disaster and the office or business is always in a state of panic.  Living with that much adrenaline in one’s body constantly is actually very unhealthy.  Workers will eventually throw in the towel and seek a less stressful environment, leaving the Prince without any subjects to support his/her goals.

Our followers are very much a reflection of ourselves emotionally and in how they handle stress and challenge. If a leader cannot see the humor in the day to day struggles and meet these with a light heart and buoyant spirit, the spirit of the entire office, team or endeavor may become deflated, somber, counterproductive. Followers look to the leader to get a sense of promise. A leader who meets challenges with a sense of good humor in effect sends the message to the followers that “this is no big deal, we can get through this and everything will be alright”.

I once counseled a business owner who had a Chief Operations Officer that was a “fire starter”.  He was only happy when the entire office was in an uproar.  My advice to the Owner: “your COO needs to be more of a shepherd and less of a band leader”. “What do you mean?” he asked. “A band leader strives to create a tremendous amount of noise.  Sometimes the noise is in harmony, sometimes not, but living day in and day out with that much constant noise will eventually wear a person out. They will shut down or shut it out, and then, at best, they becomes disenfranchised, the work becomes just a 9-5 job to them and commitment suffers.  A shepherd, on the other hand, coaxes the flock, makes the flock feel safe and protected and eventually, the flock will follow the shepherd with complete trust and confidence that their destination will be a happy place for all.”

There is a saying in the sales profession: “Assume the close”. This means that if you act as though the buyer is definitely going to buy and take steps in that direction, (such as beginning to fill out paperwork or asking the buyer “did you want that in red or in blue?”) the buyer will likely follow along and before they know it, they have made the decision to purchase, because not purchasing was never an option.

This is similar to a leader displaying good humor about bad turns of events. Followers will get the message that failure, despite whatever is happening, is not a consideration, that success is simply a matter of applying the correct effort, attitude, business plan modifications or whatever the case may be … but success will come. With this mindset, our followers will not falter, stumble or fade in their resolve and support of our leadership.  They will follow us to that happy place, supporting our Princely endeavors along the way.