I was sitting with Frank one day testing a statistic I’d read. Frank had been leading for more than forty years and I had learnt that only 20% of leaders were finishing well. I had made up my mind that the statistic was wrong and my ambitious leadership attitude considered that to be fake news! “Frank, how many people did you study with at the start of your career?” I asked. “I studied with a small class of five.” Frank replied. “Frank, how many are in leadership now?” I followed up. “Just me.” answered Frank. Frank was the 20%. Living proof.
Of course I had just conducted the world’s shortest case study and discovered an alarming consistency between what I read and Frank’s leadership longevity. Hardly scientific but a wake up call none the less!
Completing well is a noble goal in life and leadership. Deciding NOW that you will still be here THEN matters in life, relationships, family, leadership, and is critical to leaving any kind of legacy. By seeing ‘finishing’ as more important than ‘starting’, sets an intention that places you as a student of the future and your leadership narrative. Janine Garner’s inspiring work on your network leverages this idea where she says “It’s Who You Know” that fast tracks your career success. Her work is outstanding.
Leadership longevity is about intentionally building the people and the process that will radically increase your chances of completing well. It’s building on the windows to see out of, and the mirrors to reflect with AS you lead. Not just when you need it. Personal Formation (Inputs) and Leadership Rhythm (Outputs) are the two axis of completing well. Who we are becoming and how we are contributing are the two leverage points of development. These are either healthy or unhealthy. Leaving you with four positions, four needs, and four types of people you must find to finish well.
Depending on your formation and rhythm, you are one of these people:
- Unhealthy formation + unhealthy rhythm = Endangered
(You need intervention so you stop the rot)
- Healthy formation + unhealthy rhythm = Unaligned
(You need direction so you can find your way)
- Healthy rhythm + unhealthy formation = Misguided
(You need truth so you can decide wisely)
- Healthy rhythm + healthy formation = Grounded
(You need a tribe so you can multiply impact)
As leaders we lean towards one of these disciplines more naturally than the other. I am more focused on productivity than formation so the disciplines of formation are less natural to me. Others may be more orientated to more formative practices and need support in areas of activity and urgency. Either way, completing well requires you have both, well practiced and well balanced.
Depending on where you are located do two of these five things next:
- Take full personal responsibility for your personal formation and leadership rhythm.
And find one of these four people to help you:
- If you need intervention find a Chief – Like Gladiator.
- If you need direction find a Guide – Like Glinda the Good Witch.
- If you need truth find a Sensei – Mister Miyagi.
- If you need your tribe find a Sage – Yoda.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.