Why Persistence in an Important Quality for Leaders?

persistencePersistence is a great quality and one that we should all look to nurture. The ability to hold on or to get back up after we have been knocked down is essential for us to achieve any real success, because there will be failures along the way and it’s how we deal with these failures that will determine the outcome of any endeavour that we undertake.

As leaders, persistence is a quality that we absolutely have to have, nobody will follow a quitter, if that is our reputation then why should people follow us. If we lack persistence they know that at the first sign of trouble we will waver and at the first failure there is a high probability that we will quit.

Not only do we need persistence but we need the ability to be able to deal with the nay sayers, who at the first sign of problem or failure will suggest that we should turn around, go back or just stop. We need to have persistence, not only to be able to drive ourselves forward, but we need enough to keep the entire team moving forward against their fears and doubts when setbacks set in.

We need to have the courage to hold the course, to keep our teams on track, to be able to show the route to success and keeps peoples confidence high.

We cannot even afford to show doubts, as doubts multiply as they pass down the chain of command, both in terms of size and also the number of people who now share that doubt.

As leaders we need to be 110% confidence of success and our persistence needs to show that, we need to be able to show that we expected small set backs, that these were part of the plan, nothing to worry about.

At times we maybe the only one who wants to continue and here our persistence needs to be impenetrable, we need to be able to just put our heads down and drive on. People will continue to follow if we make progress, they look to see what we do, and if we stop or if we show any doubt then some will start to go back and it will make out task all the more harder.

This is why persistence is important, it set the tone of how our teams and departments react when facing adversity.

You can see some great examples in sport of persistence, teams who just don’t know that they are beaten, teams that keep going right to the last seconds looking for victory.

Look at Manchester United, I would say that over the last 10 years they were the greatest example of this in football, they just never knew when they were beaten, look at how many games they won in the last minute.

Remember the 1999 Champions League Final, 1-0 down with less than a minute to go. Many teams would have just capitulated, but not Manchester, they kept fighting and managed to score twice to create a memorable victory.

This persistence came from Ferguson, he set the tone, the persistence came from him, he drove his team to keep fighting, keep getting back up and we can see that so clearly now that he has retired. Manchester’s attitude, their persistence is not the same without Ferguson.

Persistency can definitely be developed, we can see that because the players at Manchester developed it, we need to find people who show great persistency and spend time with them, we need to understand what it is that drives them to keep going.

From my own experience I know that some of my own persistence just comes from having experienced success through not giving in, so clearly persistence and success is a self feeding cycle. The more we persist, the more we will be successful and the more belief we will have in persistence.

So we just need to start the circle, we can either do this through our own innate determination or stubbornness, or we can work alongside someone who has it and learn it from them.

One way or another, in order to be a great leader we need to develop persistence.

Gordon Tredgold

Leadership Principles