I’ll be honest with you: teaching how to truly build a relentless leadership mindset is one of the most difficult leadership concepts. This is that thing that the gurus talk about all of the time that you have to have in order to be successful: “You’ve got to want it more than you want to breath (Eric Thomas)” or “Never give in. Never give in. Never give in (Winston Churchill),” but rubber to the road takes a lot more than motivational talks and cool videos.
As a matter of fact, if these talks are what you are drinking for breakfast every day, you’re probably in trouble already because there is nothing that is going to motivate you every single day. Getting up and doing it every day is something that you just do. It isn’t something that you think about. It isn’t something that you feel. It is like going to the gym or brushing your teeth. You simply make it happen.
Today, I didn’t feel like it. It seemed as though all of my projects were going down the drain (they weren’t), like my team hated me (they don’t), and my clients were all going to fire me (they didn’t). This was one of those days when I just wanted to throw in the towel and go fishing.
You see, my goal was not just to go through the motions and get the work done, but to do it well, and to do it very well. Our company’s pillars stand on creating value for our clients, creating great client experiences and developing a world-class team. Honestly speaking – we aren’t there yet. Part of the reason is because I am not going to compromise, even a little bit, on what I envision for my clients, my team, and my company.
When I look at other leaders – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk – what I see in them is an uncompromising drive to build extraordinary offerings to their client base. They recognize first and foremost that they cannot do it themselves. They know that in order to do anything extraordinary they’ve got to get great people around you.
While I am sure this list isn’t exhaustive, here are seven things that leaders must have in order to build a relentless leadership mindset:
Rule#1: Know Yourself: My friend Tim Morgan from Giver Marketing constantly talks about “super powers,” that each of us has. What is that unique combination of gifts, talents, experiences and education wherein you are superior? At the same time, what is your kryptonite – those things that you don’t do well, or worse yet – those things that you don’t know that you don’t do very well. While this can be a humbling path of discovery, if you are wise, you’ll find sidekicks that can augment your weaknesses while you put your time and effort into the things you do best.
Rule#2: Know your role: It would be nice if there was a 4-step process that everyone could take in order to have that relentless leadership mindset. Unfortunately, that would be like walking in someone else’s shoes. I can’t lead like many of the leaders that I admire. In many cases, I don’t even want to. I know MY ROLE, what I bring to the table. In doing so, I empower everyone else to do their role. I liken it to a soccer team. Just because I am the team captain doesn’t mean that I can take responsibilities of the other positions. The team will never win.
Rule#3: Know your why: I cannot count the number of times when I wanted to shut it all down and get a job. Might have happened last week, but who’s counting? What has allowed me to move forward relentlessly has been my “why.” Zig Ziglar was masterful in helping people get down to the root of their “why.” It’s usually not the first thing that people think of, such as:
Their real reasons might be:
Rule#4: Know your vision: While there might be – should be – a company vision, that vision has to be enough of your own such that if everyone leaves the company, the vision isn’t lost with them. In the Army, my Drill Sergeant used to tell us that if we didn’t like something, we could go home to Fort Living Room and they would get somebody who looked just like us to replace us who shot better, worked harder and could do the job. The vision is your own. The people around you are there to help fulfill the vision. If you don’t own the vision, than you cannot and will not have a relentless mindset to pursue it.
Rule#5: Know how to say, “no” Thee times in the past 10 days, I heard someone discuss the need to say “no” to those things that don’t serve the why or the vision. As a leader it is a disservice to yourself and to your team if you allow the vision and the “why” to get watered down. Leadership isn’t just a job or a role; it is a responsibility. Most people will never be leaders to a great extent; they expect people around them to lead the way. A leader that cannot say “no” puts their team, their “why,” and their vision at risk. Saying “no” will be what allows you to work in your highest and best role, honor your why, and stay on track with your vision.
Rule#6: Lead the Way: Be the first one in the pool. Be the first one to take the plunge. Taste it first. Chart the path. This is what leaders do. This is what is expected. While others might sample the path and sample leadership, Leaders are required to have a relentless drive to achieve that which they can see and inspire others to pursue. My friend Kurt von Ahnen mentioned, “Great Leaders do more than others do and before others do.”
That’s what we do.
Rule#7: Be relentless. When in school studying innovation, one of the things that I had to come to terms with is the idea that when something is invented, it is never the final version. I am reminded of the process that we’ve gone through to launch an app. I recall the stories about brands such as Wal-Mart, Chick-Fil-A, McDonalds, Red Lobster, Apple, etc.. None of these brands went gangbusters from their first concepts. None got a standing ovation the first time the curtain was pulled back. It took relentless drive from the right leaders to make these brands household names. Ask any celebrity, any Olympian, any professional what it takes to be the best in the world. They will tell you that it takes a relentless pursuit.
In my opinion, there is no point in doing whatever it is you do unless you can find a way to be the best at it. In more practical terms, you must strive to provide the best possible solution for those you are targeting to serve at a price they can afford to solve the problem they wish to solve in a way that makes sense to them. Copying what everyone else is doing is only going to get you a smaller and smaller piece of the pie, if any at all.
Maintaining a relentless leadership mindset is not a simple task. It is something that you may have to renew every single day. It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to work 100 hours per week, and it doesn’t mean that you’ve got to crush everyone else in order to be the best. Yes, some will lose so that you can win, but honestly, they may just not have the right mindset to do extraordinary things.
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What makes an entrepreneur different than his or her employee counterparts? An entrepreneur approaches his or her life and work with a unique mindset.