Leading from the front

Sometimes as leaders we need to make a stand, hold our ground and stand tall in the face adversity.

If we choose to run, look for excuses or people to blame, or try delegate our way out of the situation, then this is not leadership.

Leadership is not always easy, sometimes it’s about making difficult choices, taking on difficult challenges, sometimes it’s about accepting defeat with grace.

If leadership was easy then everyone could be a leader.

When I am looking for leaders I always want to see way people are made of. When do they choose to be leaders, is it when the going is easy, when victory is in sight.

Or do they choose to become leaders when things are tough, when the going is rough  and defeat looks more likely than victory. Do they trust in their own ability to turn things around or do they look to leave it to others and wait for easier opportunities.

Fair weather leaders are 10 a penny, everyone can be successful when the going is easy, but true leadership is tested in the face of adversity.

Often I see people step into leadership positions when there is no one else willing to make that stand. To me, these are the leaders I want, people who lead because leadership is needed, not just because a role has been advertised and they like the idea of it.

If people step up, even though it might not be their responsibility, I know I can trust these people to do the right thing when it is their job.

I need to be able to trust my leaders to lead in all situations, not just when it suits them.

It was the same when I used to play rugby, I never judged how good a player was in the easy games, I always looked to see how they handled the tougher games. Anyone can play well when the opposition is poor or weak, but it’s in the tough games, when you have to put your body on the line, do some of the less glamourous work, that we really see what people are made of.

I have seen many very gifted players crumple under the pressure of a tough game, they had the skills but not the mental toughness, the drive and determination to succeed.

This is the same in leadership.

It doesn’t matter that you have a Harvard MBA, or have had the very best leadership training that money can buy. Can you lead in time of crisis, under pressure, from the front.

If you can do that, then you will earn the respect of your team and they will follow you anywhere. They know that they can trust you, rely on you and that you will do your best to see things through to a successful conclusion.

If not, then you just another fair weather leader, and we have no need of them!