One of the reasons I blog is to get better as a leader. A commitment to growth is critical for every leader. Not only that but to also have an intentional plan to get better and grow. When leaders grow, or get better, so do their teams and organisations. When teams and organisations get better, so does their impact. I recently had a discussion with Anton: ” What makes leaders better?”

The discussion initially a result of engaging the post, “How Bad Followers Make A Great Leadership Development Resource“. I thought it would be great to go a little broader in answering the question.

Great Environments

Sometimes things generally work. Teams are in-sync, deadlines and such are on track. You know, times when there is notable progress. Leaders, teams and organisations are playing a good game and are comfortable.

Is this what makes leaders better? Yes and no. Such times can be a result of leaders reaping the harvest of work done in an earlier season. Seeing proof of concepts bear fruit can be fulfilling and inspiring. It can cause momentum that leads to even more innovation and wins.

Times when everything is going well can be perilous to leaders and organisations. (Click to Tweet)

If leaders and teams are not careful success can lull them into a suicidal sleep. Complacency can cosy up to leaders who think they ‘have arrived’ because everything is working. Good results should not always be credited to great leadership. Though not for long, ships can move forward while sinking.

Don’t get me wrong great leadership is critical. All I’m saying is because all is well doesn’t mean you should relax. Leaders must be the more vigilant in comfort. You can continue to succeed from comfort and success, but don’t let it make you complacent.

The Bad, Or Ugly

History has many leaders who inspire us because they rose up to deal with crises. I think of the likes of Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela… Men who became extraordinary because they challenged the extraordinary circumstances of their times. These and many others, continue to inspire many generations after they’re gone.

We must be careful not to think that it is the dire circumstances that caused success. It wasn’t. There are other leaders who failed and gave up. I don’t want to be simplistic, here. We must acknowledge that there are sometimes many complex contributing factors to failure. But, it is also worth pointing out that crisis is not necessarily what makes the leader.

You don’t necessarily need a crisis to become a better leader. (Click to Tweet)

You don’t need a great crisis to be a great leader either. (Click to Tweet)

What Makes Leaders Better?

We’ve determined that things being great and not so good don’t make for better leaders.

Success can breed complacency. Failure can breed discouragement.

Leaders must create their own discomfort if their environment or circumstance offer comfort. Innovation doesn’t have to be created in problems/challenges. It can be intentionally caused.  At the same time, they must also fight despair and discouragement in the storms.

The thing that makes leaders better is never their unique circumstances. It is their attitude and response toward wherever they find themselves. What makes leaders better is their attitude and response toward their circumstances. It is not allowing circumstances to dictate their growth and mission.

It is their commitment to growing; causing their own discomfort in success. It is them not giving in to despair in the dire circumstances. It is a savage resolve to find a solution when things aren’t they way they should be.

What makes leaders better? A commitment to humility in learning and changing as the learning demands. It is acknowledging shortcomings because they know you can’t get better if you live in denial.

Your turn: what makes leaders better?


Published by Blessing Mpofu

just a guy changing the world

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