Leaders get stuff done. Yes, this blinding glimpse of the obvious occurred to me last night. Recently I’ve been reflecting about what is important and what isn’t. I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of what passes as leadership advice just isn’t important. The bottom line is that good leaders get things done. All the rest is just in aid of making this happen.
So why this sudden realization? My dad just had triple bypass surgery yesterday after almost three weeks in the hospital. The good news is that he is fine, recovering and stable. But the experience really made me think about the stuff that I spend time worrying about.
I look at what dad has accomplished, years of community and political activism, owning and operating a business, raising a family. In the end, his story will be about his accomplishments, some professional, some personal. In the end, it will be about what he accomplished. I suspect that he has a lot more to accomplish as chief disturber in his community.
We seem to have a misplaced understanding of quality leadership. We value niceness and empathy and all those kind things. But in the end, if the nice, empathetic leader doesn’t accomplish the group goals, she isn’t a good leader. We often assume that all goals are good goals, and that all leaders are great to work with, and that every leadership style needs to be inspirational.
But all leaders are not fun to work with, all goals are not good goals, and all leaders are not inspirational. But all good leaders get stuff done.
So I’ve been thinking about what’s important and what I can get done. Anything that isn’t important is getting dumped. I’m looking forward to getting stuff done, and not worrying about the rest. When I’m ready to retire, I want to be able to point at the stuff I got done with satisfaction, just like dad.