Desperation Diminishes

“Desperation is like stealing from the Mafia: you stand a good chance of attracting the wrong attention.” Douglas Horton

Many capable professionals disqualify themselves from positions of leadership because they appear desperate.  One of my mentors explained that those who seek leadership positions disqualify themselves as leaders.  You might ask, how is that?  When seeking positions of power over others is pursued more than becoming a person of character others admire.

I’m aware of a very capable leader who is so focused on getting promoted that his commitment, and even his competency, for his current role is now called into question.  He has attracted the wrong attention. Unfortunately, if he would have played full-out in his current position and consistently engaged in his current assignment, he may have been selected to the very role he so earnestly sought.  Because he has become distracted, frets openly about how he deserved the other position, and consequently lacks focus on his current job, he has disqualified himself.

One of the marks of a great salesman is the ability to never sound desperate.  Desperation diminishes effectiveness and repels would be clients.  So it is with leadership.

The best way to avoid desperation, and attracting the wrong attention, is to commit fully to the current assignment that you’ve been entrusted with. Do that well and you avoid appearing desperate.  Do that well and you increase the possibility of being entrusted with greater positions of responsibility and honor.


Followers or Subordinates…

…the choice is up to you.

Getting off on the right foot as a new leader is no easy task.  The assumption many executives and partners make is that the firm has given them a group of willing followers.  Actually, what you’ve been given is an opportunity to create followers.  And, if your successful, gain their trust as leader.

John Gardner writes in On Leadership, “…They have been given subordinates.  Whether the subordinates become followers depends on whether the executives act like leaders.”

How do leaders act when they step into a new role?

1.  The leaders first order of business is to initiate meaningful conversations with key people and groups.  Yes, there are many tasks to be done and plans to be made; however, leaders connect with people first. It sounds rather simple to be encouraging you to talk to people.  But, most new leaders overlook or minimize the power of this simple action.

2. Leaders listen twice as much as they speak.  You might mesmerize them with your words, but you mobilize them with understanding.  Grasping where they’ve been, what they’ve been working toward and what they hope is possible, prepares their minds and hearts to follow your lead.

3. Leaders show that they know the business and intend to conduct business in a manner that will sustain and grow the business.  People follow leaders who put the wellbeing of the business ahead of their personal ambition.

Take the time to create followers.  The rewards will extend far beyond your current assignment.


Leaders Do Not Wait On Leadership…

…they lead.

The managing partner explained that he had not developed a strategy for his national service line because “leadership” had not yet decided if the service line was strategic to the firm.  I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.  Here’s the way I see it…

First, it is highly probable that leadership will never view your practice as strategic if you, the leader (if only by title), do not passionately believe it yourself.

Second, why hold the leadership position of a national service line if you aren’t going to lead?  Resign immediately and let someone step up who has a vision for that practice.

Leaders do not wait to be told what is strategic.  Leaders think and act strategically, especially when everyone else is managing through minutiae.