Leadership is a great deal about the leadership of self. Mary Crossan, a prof at Ivey school of business, is doing work in the area of leadership. Crossan believes that the leadership of self has been largely ignored in research on business leadership.
Leadership is often about sticking to an unpopular path despite the personal risks. Self leadership is about the skills that it takes to do this. I can remember when I worked at Kraft Canada, a nine month period when I was shepherding a new advertising campaign to revive a brand that had been losing market share for nine years. Many times I was challenged, and had to stick to my guns, to push forward when many people in the organization didn’t believe in the direction we were taking. I fought for the project every step of the way, and earned a reputation as a “loose cannon”. Some might call this stubborness, but I prefer to think of it as grit.
Recently the Boston Globe published an article on the concept of grit. Grit, persistence, stubborness, call it what you will, this personality trait is one that appears to be a predictor of success, in fact a better predictor of success than IQ. Often it takes grit to hold to a path in uncertain and ambiguous times. It takes belief in your ideas and yourself.
Clearly grit isn’t the only predictor of leadership ability. Social and emotional intelligence also play a factor. Likely there is also an intangible factor.
None the less, having the focus and determination to stick to something and get it done can increase the likelihood of success. So now all I have to do is create that focus for myself. Much easier said than done. Leveraging grit is hard to do, because of the risks involved. It’s time to get gritty.