I spent a good part of a recent weekend crawling around under my house. I was finally getting around to running the speaker wire for a surround sound system that, candidly, I had been putting off for several years. Now for me that meant about 8 hours of lying on my back or crawling on my stomach in the dirt under my house as I drilled holes and dragged wires and a flashlight from one point to another. Parts of the process were pretty miserable. When I finally got all the components hooked up and working, though, nothing ever sounded so sweet . I don't know if the hard work and effort that I put in made the sound any better or not, but it sure seemed that way. It made me think about the hard work that my clients do to lead more effectively, change the culture, improve the way they coach, and how much satisfaction they enjoy when they start to see consistent behavior changes and improved employee engagement in their business.
Leadership is hard. Changing the way we do things is hard. But that sometimes means that the results we achieve by doing that hard work are even more satisfying and fulfilling. And unlike my little project, there's no one you can call to lead your people more effectively; that is a do-it-yourself project.
The results, however, are more meaningful than just about anything else you can achieve. Leading people to accomplish more than they thought they could and to improve their own capabilities to create more success for themselves is both valuable and sustainable. It dramatically changes the outcomes of your team or your business, and for them, it lasts a lifetime. It doesn't happen though, unless we first do the hard work of becoming the kind of leader who can influence people and help them change their perspective. Sometimes that's uncomfortable. It often takes longer than we thought, is harder than we thought, and presents challenges we never expected. And yet, when we get it right, the results are a lot like hearing beautiful music. People begin to work together in harmony, supporting each other, communicating clearly and achieving remarkable results. And it all started with us doing the hard work on ourselves to make it possible.
Remember that leadership can happen anywhere- it may be at work, at home or in your community. Once you push yourself to develop the skills and the perspective of a true leader, everyone around you benefits. Many of the people that I work with talk as much about the results they have seen at home or with the kids as they do the changes that have happened on the job.
As projects go, I was pretty happy with my new sound system. But the project of becoming a more effective leader can't be completed in a weekend. It will last for the rest of your life. The results will, too, for you and everyone you lead. Consider taking on the hard work involved and you will soon be enjoying results that are as fulfilling as anything else you can spend time on.
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