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.

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