We continue our discussion on the insights of Napoleon Hill by looking at more Leadership challenges …

10 Major causes of failure in leadership …

#3: “EXPECTATION OF PAY FOR WHAT THEY ‘KNOW’ INSTEAD OF WHAT THEY DO WITH WHAT THEY KNOW. The world does not pay for what people ‘know’. It pays them for what they do, or induce others to do.” (by Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich”)

Most of the keys to great leadership we have discussed tend to focus on what the leader expects from or inspires in his/her followers. But … this cause of failure is deeply personal and telling of the Prince’s qualities and personality. We have to ask of ourselves: “How shallow am I as a leader”? “Do I expect to be followed and supported simply because I graduated Harvard or Yale or simply because I carry professional designations (letters) behind my name? Do I think that my followers should be devoted strictly on the basis of my office or station … or am I willing to put action and effort into the endeavor?”

In other words, does the woman or man who deigns to be a prince or princess believe that they have no more personal and professional growth required of themselves to continue greatness?

In our first book, we devote an entire chapter to the problem in American society with the notion that the “system” tells us that we can, at some point, stop growing and rest on our laurels. Once you have your PhD you have earned a lifetime of high income regardless of your continued effort and self-sacrifice. This is perhaps the most destructive and egregious lie that we are told. The world does not pay for knowledge that sees no practical application.  The entrepreneur does not just observe and report on an opportunity, they see a need and fill it, whether through inventing a unique product or service or building a better mousetrap.

What Napoleon Hill said almost 100-years ago is right on the mark. It does not matter WHAT you know … if you cannot apply it. What matters is what you do with what you know … including what you do with that knowledge as it affects, elevates, impacts and empowers your followers.

A Prince or Princes uses their knowledge, experience, expertise and influence to create cohesion and strength in the collective heart of their followers, which in turn creates momentum in the group effort … towards success.

UNWILLINGNESS TO RENDER HUMBLE SERVICE. Truly great leaders are willing, when occasion demands, to perform any sort of labor that they would ask another to perform. ‘The greatest among ye shall be the servant of all’ is a truth that all able leaders observe and respect.  (from: “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill) …

I am inspired to reflect and emulate the conduct of some of my own clients, who have established themselves as great leaders … the fruitage of which shows in their station in life.  Please note the following experiences:

On the very same project which I discuss below in my last Blog post … on the very same day that I started the ball rolling by showing up at 5:30 AM to begin cleaning work, my client, the developer and his wife, both showed up to lend a hand. These two people are in the top 1/2% of earners in the United Sates. They have no need to do anything but stand on the sidelines and demand service appropriate to the price they are paying to the resources which they have hired. However, these two people who could spend all of their time drinking mint juleps on the veranda pitched in and worked side by side with everyone else on the site clean-up work. They helped to un-pack, un-box and set furniture. They hung artwork in the guest rooms, they picked up a paint brush and help do touch-up work to ensure that the guests … their guests … had the best possible experience upon arrival at this new resort property.

On another occasion, one of our painting subcontractors, a family of Hispanic men were just breaking for lunch and sitting under a tree on the grass with their gas burner, iron skillet and tortillas and fillings preparing to eat. This group, who I had already developed a personal relationship with, invited me to recline and enjoy lunch with them and I, in turn, invited my client Neil to join us. Despite having an extremely busy and demanding schedule, without hesitation, Neil reclined on the grass with the rest of us and we all shared a fresh, hot lunch of very simple food. We all told funny stories and laughed together. The social barriers melted away and these men, these laborers, saw the developer not as a snob but as a family member.

To this day, this crew of workers are some of the most loyal and hard working resources we have to call on. They will do virtually any task they are asked to do and they do it with pride and a high degree of quality.

Neil and I share a common belief in inspiring followers through comaraderie rather than intimidation. We are often told by our architects, contractors, even our attorneys, that they will do things for us they would never consider doing for another client because they know that if the tables were turned, they will be able to count on our loyalty in return.

Now that we have examined in detail The Major Attributes of Leadership defined by Napoleon Hill, plus several addendum of my own, it is also important for those who would be leaders (those who would be Princes) to acknowledge and meditate upon those things which prevent a leader from being successful.  Without successful leadership skills, a would be Prince or Princess might never achieve their goals in life, whether financially or or in any other endeavor that requires the support and fellowship of others. Therefore, we will now begin to review and dissect what Napoleon Hill identifies as the “10 Major Causes of Failure in Leadership” in his book “Think and Grow Rich”.

“Efficient leadership calls for ability to organise and to master details. No genuine leader is ever ‘too busy’ to do anything which may be required as a leader. When a leader or follower is ‘too busy’ to change plans or give attention to any emergency, it is an indication of inefficiency. The successful leader must be the master of all details connected with the position. That means, of course, that the habit of delegating details to capable lieutenants must be acquired.” (by: Napoleon Hill: Think and Grow Rich)

Recently I have had several conversations with a variety of associates about this much miss-understood but very important component of a great leader. There are two factors that come into play in avoiding the trap described above.

First … Every great leader must understand that they have an ethical obligation to those they serve to at all times be operating at, and occupied with those tasks, that represent the highest and best use of their time. In other words, a great leader must by necessity, push down all work that CAN be performed by someone else to those individuals. This frees up the time of the leader to ONLY be occupied with the activities that NO ONE ELSE can do. Frankly, doing the things that no one else can do, almost by definition, means that the occupation of a leader is to be absorbed in the most stressful and difficult activities of the endeavor … but such is the burden of leadership.

Secondly … Every great leader should also not be afraid to lead by example, being willing to perform, and occasionally actually performing tasks, which might normally be relegated to the lowest level employee or follower.

How do we reconcile these two apparently opposite edicts? By understanding that there are, at times, strategic reasons for performing lower level tasks that in that moment make doing so the “highest and best use” of the leader’s time and energy. Let me give you an example:

Recently, I finished the development of a boutique hotel project for a client of mine. Acting as the “Owner’s Representative”, at any point in time, I had hundreds of people reporting directly or indirectly to me. That was on just this one project. On any given day, I am directing the activities of upwards of 300 people, managing an annual cash flow of tens of millions of dollars. My highest and best use is in restricting myself to making decisions valued at least $100,000 in scope and delegating any activities of lesser impact. However, in this case, on opening day, the project site was still a mess despite my having hounded the contractor for several months to get prepared for the grand opening. Whether there was negligence, whether the staff all felt that clean-up duty was beneath them, or whether there was just a lack of professional pride in the work, here we were at opening day and the property was a mess, not suitable for receiving guests.

I arrived at the site at 5:30 AM and started cleaning up the site with my own two hands. By 7:30 AM as the project team started to arrive I had made a noticeable dent. Upon arriving for work and seeing their fearless leader getting his hands dirty doing menial work, staff immediately and with vigor started to throw their backs into clean-up duty. Within a half-hour, over thirty people were motivated to working on getting the project site clean and orderly. In approximately three hours, the entire property was looking clean and ready to greet guests … well before the 3PM deadline. You see, at that moment in time, my highest and best use as a leader was to inspire my followers to action whether through pride, comeraderie or shame, and it was a successful leadership tactic.

A leader who is paying attention to the details and displays willingness to become integrally involved in their execution can inspire followers to greatness. A leader who refuses to get involved in the minutiae of the endeavor risks failure through lack of strong leadership.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

It it is your job as a leader to inspire the parts to both individual and collective greatness.