When leaders get stuck, what do they do?
When I first saw this video clip, it made me chuckle out loud. Take a minute to view it before you continue reading:
How often do we find ourselves stuck? And do we wait for someone to come and help us out of our fix? Do we feel like we can’t take action without some direction? In his new book, the New York Times author Adam Bryant describes five critical attributes that leaders bring to the table. These five attributes allow them to keep moving, to inspire others, and to take action even when it may not be clear in which direction to move (or if they can move at all). Let’s review each of the attributes one at a time.
First, leaders have passionate curiosity. We often see leaders in a public arena, where they need to project an image of certainty, of success, of clear direction. But leaders, whenever possible, ask probing questions, care about the lives and interests of others, share stories of success and failure, and never miss an opportunity to learn from others and to ask questions that may provide a unique solution to whatever they are discussing. This passionate curiosity creates multiple options and pathways to “getting unstuck,” to taking action without the boundaries we often put on ourselves.
Great leaders also have both confidence and a way of keeping things simple. Confidence doesn’t mean that the leader is always right or always knows the answer. Rather, this leadership confidence means that they can take ownership of a failure, learn from previous experiences, and believe passionately in their ability to make the most of whatever comes next for them and their organizations. When combined with confidence, keeping things simple means that leaders quickly create a focus or a plan. As Bryant says, “…. Lose the ‘Power’ part of [the] presentations and simply get to the ‘Point’.” A leader’s ability to connect the dots in simple ways and get to the core point allows them to keep teams moving, laser focus on what is important, and turn an idea into action quickly.
Speaking of teams, good leaders aren’t just team players. Exceptional leaders have what Bryant calls “team smarts.” They understand how teams work, they have an uncanny ability to tease out great team players as they hire, they recognize what a team needs and figure out how to bring it to the table, and they know intuitively how to mobilize groups of people for success.
Last, great leaders learn how to take action when they are stuck. Remember the video clip we started with? When faced with a problem, they are fearless. A key component of great leadership is the ability to take a risk, to go beyond what is comfortable, to see an opportunity that others do not see, and to upset the status quo in order to move your organization forward.
To learn more about these five attributes, consider reading Bryant’s book, The Corner Office. And the next time you get stuck, consider having the curiosity, the confidence, and the fearlessness to take some action. Keep it simple – and use the team around you in order to achieve success.
Which of these attributes do you consider to be your strongest? With which do you struggle as a leader?