6 Things Strong Leaders Don’t Do
A lot of the time, we picture strong leadership in the wrong way. We think of it as macho posturing, using an assertive voice, or making commands and refusing to be moved from them.
In reality, strong leaders are like trees buffeted by a storm – they bend as the wind pushes them, but they remain firm in what makes them who they are. Part of that firmness is not falling into these six traps…
They Don’t Shy Away From Change
Change is difficult. Whether you’re a kid starting a new school or a CEO looking to transform her company, the unknown will naturally fill you with doubt. As human beings, we’re psychologically pre-disposed to focus on danger and loss above potential benefits. What we have now might not be perfect, it might even be deeply broken, but at least we know what it is.
Strong leaders face this tendency in themselves and set it aside. The doubts are still there, because they’re the most human thing in the world. But a strong leader can move past them and embrace change, because that way they can grow even stronger, and so can their business.
They Don’t Let Caution Win
There are few things more crippling than an unwillingness to take risks. The companies that lagged behind Apple in its early forays into portable electronics were left behind by this risk taking company. Many of those companies are so cautious that all their efforts since have focused on imitating what others have achieved, with only the slightest of variations in technology, style and price.
If you let caution win then you will never do anything bold or innovative. You will be stuck in a rut where you don’t stand out from the crowd. As a leader, you need to avoid giving in to caution, or doom yourself to become just another imitator.
They Don’t Fear Failure
The key to overcoming caution is to accept that sometimes you’ll fail, and that that’s OK.
Simón Bolivar, the man known as The Liberator for his role in Latin American independence, faced setbacks in his political career. For years, the revolutionary politics he was part of went nowhere. The first insurgency he took part in was soundly beaten. But Bolivar kept going, went on to achieve great success, and now has a country named after him.
Not every bold idea or plan is a good one. Sometimes you won’t know what will succeed until you try it, and that means facing some failures. But those failures are part of the path to greater success. A strong leader accepts that they will have failures, and so will the people working for them.
Failing in a project does not make you a failure as a person. But you cannot become a great success without risking those failures.
They Don’t Make the Same Mistake Over and Over
Failure becomes a problem when you don’t learn from it. At that point, you risk falling into one of the most famous definitions of madness – doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.
Strong leaders don’t just move on past their mistakes. They examine them and learn from them. It can be a hard thing to do, and harder still to avoid turning this examination into a toxic and unproductive exercise in blame. But if you can take the pain of recognizing your own failings, and live up to the challenge of identifying other problems without casting blame, then you can learn for the future.
If you don’t do that, you’ll just make the same mistake again in a different situation, because you won’t understand what the problem was.
They Don’t Put Their Concerns Before Those of Others
One of the most difficult things for a strong leader to do is to listen. You have bold ideas and a sense of purpose, you’re going to want to push your agenda.
To get others to cooperate, you need to take a step back from that and give others time to express their opinions. A strong leader is resilient enough in herself and flexible enough in his views to listen to contrasting opinions while still retaining a sense of purpose. They don’t endlessly push their own concerns. They listen to and act on those of others, without being driven from their core purpose.
They Don’t Avoid the Challenge of the Social
Running a socially conscious business is both beneficial and challenging. The strongest leaders have a sense of purpose beyond just making money. They know how they want to shape the world, and they design their businesses to do that. This means facing the challenge of the social – understanding what impact you’re having on society and finding ways to make that better.
It takes a strong leader to say “no” when an idea would improve the bottom line but hurt employees, customers, or the community. It takes a strong leader to create a strong social purpose and build a company around it. But this is what strong leaders are made of – not avoiding the difficult choices.
Strong leaders face the difficult elements of leadership, from the risk of failure to listening to others. They embrace those difficult elements, and emerge all the stronger.