I’m always inspired by leaders who persevere. They really stand out from the rest: they have a significant impact, usually without commanding the limelight or fanfare. Have you noticed this? Sometimes refreshing, sometimes demanding, their attitudes and energy are distinct.
I’ve also noticed how they fall into five categories, each one a vital part of an organization’s path through challenging times.
- The mature, seasoned leader – With age come wisdom, clarity and greater discernment. (I wrote about this in my last post.) Generally, older leaders are wiser, steadier, more focused, and experienced with the causes of success (or failure.)
Mature leaders have greater self-awareness. They know their weaknesses and strengths, and how to fine-tune them for specific circumstances. They’re more diligent about making solid commitments and strive for the highest levels of accountability. They act responsibly and do what’s expected of them. They recognize the need for perseverance.
- The leader who loves his/her work – Passion is another key ingredient for success. Blend passion with perseverance, and you’ll reap optimal rewards, notes Angela Duckworth, in Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Scribner, 2016). Loving what you do makes you more determined and creative. You’ll experience greater curiosity and challenge yourself to make improvements. If you fuel your passion, you’ll enjoy a stable career, with an even greater platform to contribute.
Leaders with passion for their work generate many ideas, and they’re likely to see them take shape. They persevere through many attempts at achieving success, adjusting along the way.
- The disciplined leader – Disciplined leaders are driven to persevere and always apply their best effort, day in and day out. They achieve a great deal, even in tumultuous times. Duckworth’s research on leadership shows effort to be a driving force that’s even more critical than skill. Many people have considerable skills but fail to persevere. The literature is rife with stories of successful leaders who didn’t have the greatest skills, but accomplished the seemingly impossible through valiant effort.
Disciplined leaders want to continuously improve and develop a skill until they’ve mastered it. They’ve learned to withstand defeats because giving up is unacceptable to them. They persevere instead.
- The purpose-driven leader – Leaders who establish a purpose for their work experience a calling for what they do. They feel the need to contribute to something bigger than themselves. When their company improves because of their efforts, the results fulfill them. They benefit others, add value and enjoy the outcome.
Leaders driven by purpose don’t view failure as the larger culture does. Failure isn’t to be avoided at all costs, but is a part of learning, with no cause for fear. Perseverance is more attainable when setbacks have no effect on one’s calling. Circumstances may change, but a purpose-driven leader’s calling doesn’t.
- The positive leader – Positive leaders know they can improve their circumstances. They envision a better future and wholeheartedly pursue it. They embrace challenges, knowing they’ll learn something significant.
Positive leaders see a benefit in each step taken, even when some are backward. They’re confident that diligent effort pays off, and they persevere through storms because they know there’s sunshine on the other side.