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Inside Every Leader Is a Better One
Many leaders suggest they want to be better but fail to put in the time or effort to significantly improve. Leaders are generally not lazy people and work hard to master many other skills important for their success. So why do so many leaders fail to make strides in their leadership skills?
The answer is rather simple. In their eyes, they are doing just fine by everyday standards. As parents, spouses, colleagues, and team leaders, their leadership seems to work well enough. Why fix something that isn’t broken? How much better can a leader really get through concentrated effort?
While they wouldn’t accept mediocrity in any other area of their lives, many leaders celebrate average when it comes to leadership. If a leader’s attitude is a decision, it’s time for a new one. Inside every leader is a better one. Personal development in leadership, as with all matters, begins with the desire to improve.
Perhaps a story about legendary wrestler and coach Dan Gable will prove instructive. Gable, as you might recall, is considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, winning the NCAA Division I championship two times, with a collegiate record of 117-1. In 1972, he won a gold medal for the United States without giving up a point to an opponent. After retiring from competition, he became the head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa, amassing a record 15 national championships.
At one point during his coaching career, an NCAA finalist from a competing school asked to speak with him, seeking advice about his aspirations for attaining an Olympic medal. He asked Gable what he needed to do to become an Olympian. Gable supposedly responded with a question he asked everyone with lofty aspirations when they sought his advice: “How important is it to you?”
Wrapped inside Gable’s question is the premise that to achieve greatness in anything, one must sacrifice, go the extra mile, and find the strength to overcome any obstacle that stands in the way. If it’s not important to you, the likelihood that you will endure what it takes to become great is decidedly small.
Before embarking on an endeavor to improve as a leader, the first question to ask is: “How important is it to you?” Given how much leadership matters and how many people’s lives are affected by the leaders they follow, the answer is a significant one. When it really matters to become a better parent, team leader or coach, then progress will be made.
How important is it for you to become a better leader? Everyone else is waiting for your answer and the skills you have yet to improve. (Hint: the answer is really decided by those you lead, and they say it is immensely important!)