Diligence is important in unfavorable times.

Diligent leaders have the ability to bring consistent energy and effort to their work.  They bridle the urgent demands with a single-mindedness on strategic movement while carefully and persistently increasing their work.

A leader recently learned through 360˚ feedback that his peers perceived him as having slacked off in his commitment.  They noted that he wasn’t demonstrating hard work or putting himself out to address the economic challenges of his office.  He explained his behavior as a result of the economic downturn saying, business just wasn’t there.

During unfavorable conditions diligent leaders show up with greater persistence and determination.  In the words of Jim Collins, they “display a workmanlike diligence – more plow horse than show horse.” They refuse to use these harsh economic realities as reason to coast.

The characteristics of diligence are:

1. Demonstration of energy and physical stamina required to get things done in the midst of long and extreme conditions.

2. Insistence on making every hour of every day productive.  It’s more than good time management, it’s expanding capacity for leveraging resources and activity.

3. Follow-through on commitments made.  Leaders who fail to deliver on commitments forfeit the right to be followed.

Research indicates that 95% of leaders and managers are not living up to their potential. Extreme times call for extreme leadership.  How will you show up?


Realistic or just stuck?

Pragmatism is basically considered a virtue in the world of accounting, finance and consulting. But there is a risk of being too realistic and over-relying on how you’ve always done things.

My son, who works for a financial firm, shared his recent experience.  A group of mid-level managers in that firm, leading a new initiative to expand the client-base, is displaying close-mindedness to new ideas from the staff.  He mused, “I think you can become so realistic that you can’t see new possibilities.”

When staff observe managers and leaders squelching creative solutions they shut down.  They  think, “If the manager doesn’t want to hear my ideas, I won’t share them.” That manager just unknowingly cost the firm possibilities that can only be realized from having all brains in the game.

Are you a realist?  Don’t get stuck in the predictable behaviors and solutions of the past. Listen to the dreamers around you.


Uncomfortable Conversations

Seth Godin asks, “Who is making you uncomfortable?” and warns that insulating ourselves from uncomfortable conversations benefit no one.

Avoiding the uncomfortable encounters with colleagues and staff means we forfeit the power of self-awareness and insight…the stuff that sparks growth and breakthrough.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the giving  or receiving end of the difficult conversation, growth is possible for all involved.

The issue of course is what we do with this new information and knowledge. Those who are highly resilient have trouble absorbing the lessons and move on to quickly. The sensitive are at risk of getting angry or falling into despair.  But those who are committed to being their best let the message in.  They absorb the full impact, no matter how painful, and come out stronger, wiser and more effective.

Get the feedback.  Let it make you better.