10 Principles of Leadership Success
It’s a common scenario: an executive coaching client comes in highly motivated to meet personal and professional goals. He or she sets up several sessions, pays up front, arrives early, and shows up ready, willing, and able to get to work. Then, the client drops the bombshell question: “Can you guarantee my results?”
No. 1 Principle of Leadership Success: There are No Guarantees
Whenever this question comes up, I patiently explain that, in coaching, there are no guarantees. Obstacles and setbacks are a real possibility. And, you have to stick with it despite those obstacles and setbacks. There is no one-size-fits-all fool-proof solution that always works every time.
Leadership coaches can only do so much in terms of assessing strengths and areas of development. For instance, I administer the StrengthsFinder, DISC, and LPI Leadership 360 Feedback tool. These measures allow the client to see how she can better leverage her strengths, capitalize on her behavioral style and those of others, and improve her leadership. We can set the stage for success by negotiating a concrete action plan with specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) goals. But, when push comes to shove, you must be motivated by your own burning desire to achieve leadership success. It must come from within you.
Many things can affect how successful you are in your leadership journey. Just be aware that there may be obstacles such as a toxic work environment, a negative corporate culture, or non-supportive friends and family who make success difficult.
No. 2 Principle of Leadership Success: Stick to a Long-term Plan
I think of those clients who work extremely hard on developing leadership skills for about a month. Then they stop because they believe they’ve done their part. After initial progress, they believe that they can skate by without continued effort. Obviously, clients like this are in for a rude awakening when they discover that long-term success requires much more than a quick fix. It’s a long process requiring commitment, perseverance and patience!
No. 3 Principle of Leadership Success: Don’t Look for Shortcuts
Shortcuts to developing leadership success do not exist. Many of my clients have looked for them. But, unfortunately, they only become disappointed when they can’t find them.
Clients sometimes have unrealistic expectations when they engage in a coaching relationship, hoping to find a quick fix that frees them from the hard work necessary to find success. They must understand that leadership success, like many other things, follows the law of the harvest. Rather than developing overnight, it must be nurtured through long-term efforts.
No. 4 Principle of Leadership Success: Wellness and Balance Play a Big Part
Many leaders working with me have poor diet, sleep, time management, and self-care habits. However, the people who succeed are generally those who have healthy bodies and minds. Busy leaders experience tremendous stress and long workdays. For this reason, we discuss how to put self-care and wellness high on their list of priorities.
No. 5: Principle of Leadership Success: There’s No Level Playing Field
The leaders I work with come from all walks of life. Some are are thin wheres some are not so thin. Some are young and some not so young. Some people are healthy, some not so healthy. Yet, all of these diverse people all have one common goal – to achieve leadership success. Some are more likely to succeed than others, depending on both their unique external circumstances and their internal thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, and conclusions.
I’ve delivered hundreds of leadership training sessions. At each workshop, I notice two people, sitting side-by-side. Both of them are exposed to the same powerful skills, tools and resources. Both are offered opportunities to practice those skills with role plays. One of them grows leaps and bounds and soars to success! The other person however, stagnates or worse, struggles in their leadership journey. Some people simply find success much more quickly and easier than others.
The reason for this “uneven playing field”? People have different mindsets. Your internal world determines your external world. So if your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, and conclusions are positive and empowering, your behaviors and the results of those behaviors will be positive and productive. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. If your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, and conclusions are negative, self-limiting, and dis-empowering, your behaviors and the results of those behaviors will be negative and unproductive. For this reason, our coaching programs focus not only on what great leaders do, but also on how great leaders think and what they believe. We challenge all the negative, dis-empowering, self-limiting beliefs that hold people back.
No. 6 Principle of Leadership Success: Frustration is Inevitable
When my clients run into a roadblock, I say, “This happens. It’s part of the journey. You just need to see this as a temporary setback. Don’t let it discourage you from going for want you want.” I tell them that they can definitely succeed, even if the road is bumpy at times. I may tweak our strategy or adjust my coaching techniques until the client is satisfied. I always ask my clients, “What do we need to work on that would make this session worthwhile?” I also ask, “How effective is your coaching so far? Is there anything I can do more of, less of, start doing, or stop doing?” Nevertheless, the client must also remain committed if he or she wants to be successful. To increase effectiveness, reassess your strategy to determine whether you need to make a change.
No. 7 Principle of Leadership Success: Motivation is Crucial to Success
As I mentioned, those who achieve success more quickly and easily are those who have the right mindsets. When they are pessimistic, my clients stop listening to or accepting guidance. They become reluctant and sometimes dishonest with themselves and others, including their coach. And, this compromises the effectiveness of their coaching.
On the other hand, clients with success-oriented mindsets usually are willing to do what it takes. They are honest and genuine. If they encounter obstacles, they persevere because they keep their eyes on the prize. For example, some of the mindsets we share in our “Mindsets of the Most Successful Leaders” include:
- I create my success
- I continually learn & grow & my results show
- I associate with successful leaders. If they can do it, I can do it too
- I admire other successful leaders
If you are willing to listen and learn from your coach or mentor, you will achieve leadership success. Let go of negative, self-limiting, dis-empowering thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, and conclusions that hold you back, and replace them with some of the above mindsets.
No. 8 Principle of Leadership Success: Measure Progress!
Clients don’t improve without a frame of reference. Leadership coaches cannot judge clients’ progress on a “hunch”. I use empirical information such as performance evaluations, 360 Feedback tools, and other workplace reports measuring progress. These evaluations and reports are based on clearly defined criteria. When something is working well, I remind my clients of that fact. I ask the sponsor of coaching (often the client’s leader, HR) to remind the client of that fact. You cannot judge results based on knee-jerk reactions. If you rely on guesswork, back-sliding may go un-noticed until it is too late. Measuring progress is vitally important for success.
No. 9 Principle of Leadership Success: Rely on Expert Advisors
Few emerging leaders can find success without help. It’s not impossible… just very, very difficult. Coaching provides newly promoted leaders an important ingredient that can make all the difference–expert advice. As your coach, I am a trained professional who uses evidence-based, best practices to help clients understand the causes of the their struggles. Research indicates that trying to develop leadership, management, and supervision skills without professional help is difficult.
No. 10 Principle of Leadership Success: Run the Other Way If It Seems Too Good To Be True!
Some of my clients look for quick and easy success, but developing your leadership is not quick and easy. Unrealistic claims and promises of fast results are highly dubious and should be considered suspicious. It’s probably too good to be true. As a coach, I use a methodical process that seldom produces overnight results. It often takes time to assess your current leadership skills to determine what works well and what needs improvement. Don’t be manipulated by those who make promises sounding too good to be true.
Author, Trainer/Facilitator, Executive Coach
LPI (Leadership Practices Inventory) Certified Coach
DISC Certified Behavior Analyst
AdvantEdge Success Coaching & Training
Leadership from the “inside-out”. Not only what great leaders do, but also how they think. More than just skill sets–mindsets, too. Beyond information, to TRANSFORMATION!
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