For the past several years, one constant of my leadership blog has been the fact that I publish new leadership insights every Tuesday throughout the year. It’s something that’s important not just for my readers as it allows them to know when to expect my latest leadership piece, but it also helps me to overcome those inevitable bouts of procrastination that every writer has to grapple with in the process of creating a new work.
Of course, sometimes the problem with publishing new material for my leadership blog has less to do with overcoming procrastination as it does with the downside of having a fixed day of the week on which to publish new articles.
It’s a problem that came to light a few years ago when I noticed that both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fell on a Tuesday – the very day of the week that I publish new articles for my leadership blog.
Given that most of my readers would be spending time with family and friends instead of reading articles online, I naturally felt some reluctance with writing two new pieces for those dates considering that in all likelihood they would go unnoticed.
My wife also pointed out that since most people won’t be interested in reading articles about work while on their holiday break, this could be a nice opportunity for me to take a break and just save these ideas to share at another time later in the new year.
From almost every vantage point, it just made sense for me to save these leadership insights until after the holiday break when more people were likely to read these new pieces.
And yet, something didn’t sit right with me in skipping out on providing something new for my readers to ponder and consider about the nature of leadership. In part, this feeling was due to the fact that at this point I had garnered a sizeable international audience in parts of the world where it was business as usual instead of a holiday period.
But what ultimately drove me to publish two new pieces on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day that year was something more internal, more meaningful. It was a feeling that I wanted to honour the commitment I had made to my readers – namely, that each and every Tuesday, I would share my insights on how they can become a better leader for those under their care.
This wasn’t just about doing what’s right or what’s expected. It was about recognizing that the key to success is not just what we know, but how driven we are to show up and deliver our best [Share on Twitter]; to demonstrate our commitment to bring our best selves to the work we do.
Granted, I’m sure my readers would have understood why I chose to take a break in not writing something new for those two weeks. And yet, if we think about it, what makes successful people stand out from others is how they focus not on what people expect them to do, but on how they can exceed those expectations.
Indeed, it’s this very drive to exceed expectations that garners our attention and interest in these people that we hold up as individuals who we should emulate and learn from.
It’s a point that was once again reinforced just last week with my previous piece where I addressed the question “where do we go from here?”. As this was published on the day when most of my readers were starting their vacation break, I didn’t expect this piece to get as much attention as those I’ve written throughout the past year.
And yet, over the past week, this piece not only ended up being the headline article for the Wednesday edition of SmartBrief on Leadership newsletter (not to mention being listed in yesterday’s issue as one of their most read articles for CEOs that week), but it also generated a noticeable increase in both new subscribers to my blog as well as new followers on Twitter.
Now this article was hardly my best piece – both in terms of what I view to be my best and in terms of what received the greatest response from my readership. And yet, the reception it received proves the value that’s found in honouring the commitment we make to those around us; that we not give in to taking that path of least resistance in settling for less because it’s what’s convenient, easy, or worse, what’s expected of us.
This example also reveals another important truth that every leader needs to own up to – when we settle for the ordinary, we can’t expect to inspire those we lead to be extraordinary [Share on Twitter].
After all, it’s easy for us to make excuses to not exceed the expectations we put on ourselves and those we lead – we can argue we lack the resources and the time to make things better. We can argue that now is not the best time to make changes because we already have so many plates to keep up in the air.
But while these may be sound and reasonable justifications, they also take away from our commitment to show up and do more than maintain the status quo. After all, there is a fundamental reason why many of us answer the call of leadership and that is because we have that desire to make things better.
But how can we do that if we lack the conviction to honour that commitment to show up each and every day – regardless of what stands before us – and do what’s necessary to inspire and empower those we lead to be more than they are today?
Over the course of this year, I’ve challenged readers of my leadership blog to recognize our power to inspire those we lead to be extraordinary, why we have to make work meaningful for those we lead, to understand the truth of their leadership alongside so many other facets of what it takes to bring out the best in those you lead.
The common thread connecting all these ideas and insights is understanding that our success as leaders rests on how we choose to show up to help those we lead to thrive [Share on Twitter].
In light of today’s faster-paced work environment with those increasing demands on our time, attention, and resources, there’s no question that the easy thing for us to do is to simply focus on the things we need to get done.
But what makes a leader exceptional – what allows them to inspire those under their care to dedicate their talents, creativity, and insights to a common cause or shared purpose – is when they clearly demonstrate that their focus is not on themselves, but on appreciating the impact they have on those they lead.
Of how they can help those under their care to not only feel some measure of success, but to have a clear understanding of why their efforts matter. That they are important and valued members of their organization’s community.
Over the course of this year, I’ve shared this example of how I grappled with whether to write something during the holiday period and every time, I point out that had I chose to simply skip those two weeks, I wouldn’t be honouring the commitment I made with my readers to provide them with ideas and insights to help them become a better leader for their team and organization.
And every time, I see that glimmer of understanding in the eyes of the leaders in front of me. That when we talk about using our leadership to model the behaviours we want to see in our employees, it’s about more than what we say at those team meetings and leadership retreats.
It’s about honouring the commitment we made to our employees – that our goal is to ensure they have the means and opportunity to not simply succeed, but to thrive under our leadership.
This is what those leadership icons whose quotes we share and whose stories we look to for inspiration did to achieve the levels of success we all yearn to attain through our leadership. They understood not only the power of their words to affect change, but also how they showed up to bring to life the very ideas they encouraged those around them to help make our current reality.
Without question, those are giant shoes for leaders of today to fill. But the truth is that this is exactly what employees require from their leaders if they are to be successful in bringing their organization’s vision to life in the months and years to come.
So as the last remaining days of 2015 now come to a close, here’s to looking ahead to the New Year and with it, the hope that we will all move one step closer in 2016 to being the kind of leader our employees need us to be in order to achieve success and fulfillment under our watch.