Hard Work


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.


1 reply »

  1. The first question I ask candidates during interviews is: What is the most important quality of leadership? I get a lot of interesting answers but I hardly ever get the one I am looking for because the answer I am looking for does not fit the pop culture mentality of the modern business world. I believe that if I ask an interview question I should be able to answer it myself. That is only fair. My answer to the question: What the most important quality of leadership? is also the rarest quality of leadership and that in one word is humility. Humility practiced and preached by a leader is the most important and rarest quality of leadership.
    One might look at the leadership of self as a form of self mastery or self discipline: The ability for one to triumph over their worst habits and prejudices, weaknesses or deficiencies, or at very least earnestly struggle against them. In doing so we should garner a deep appreciation for the weaknesses we perceive in others and come to the realization that we are no better or hopefully no worse than others. Out of this self examination and appreciation and struggle should grow the ultimate outward expression of humility and that is compassion.
    If you believe that concepts that concepts like humility and compassion do not fit into the modern work place, then we could agree to disagree. However there may be a link between the practice of humility in the work place and the practice of grit or stubbornness as expressed here. In fact we might consider that steadfastness though humility is similar to grit or stubbornness in a kind of you say potayto I say potahto kind of way. One difference may be the connotation that humility is associated with passive resistance, while grit is associated more with assertiveness. Any real difference may lie in how one treats others. While being stubborn do you empathize with those who oppose your views? Are you compassionate or do you rail against the world? The difference may be important depending on whether you want to win the battle or win the war.
    You may ask: Who cares whether I use humility or grit to get things done, as long as they get done? And besides I am in hurry and humility takes too long. While this may be true, one should take the long view of things, especially if you want a long career in a large organization. With more assertive grit you may be able to pile up some short term victories, but at what cost. The cost may be damage to relationships that you will need in the long run, or damage to the reputation that you develop along the way. Pick your battles well my friend and win or lose, always try to leave everyone smiling. TTFN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s