“It’s not enough that you just have talent. You gotta have character too.” – The Hustler (1961)
Both talent and character play an important role in leadership. Talent is attractive and very beneficial, however, it is not solely responsible for success. When I recruit people to be on my team, I always look for character before talent.
Talent is like a loaded shotgun, but character is the ability to aim and hit a target. You must have both to be effective. Talent without character is like an un-aimed loaded shotgun–dangerous and deadly.
Oftentimes people ride the wave of success based on talent alone. Success, however, usually comes with increased responsibilities and pressure. If a person’s character hasn’t been developed, he or she won’t be able to handle success properly. As a leader, it is important that we are sensitive to the development of character in our team. Don’t promote someone only because of a talent. Make sure that person has the character to sustain a higher level of responsibility.
And, this is important for us to remember too… don’t be in a rush to get to a place where your character can’t keep you. Talent may take you somewhere, but only character will keep you there. Work on developing your character. Stay accountable to someone. Reflect on the way you react and respond in different situations. Do you like it? What are others saying about you? Set personal goals for yourself (click for tips).
“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece by thought, choice, courage and determination.” – John Luther
Don’t let talent outgrow character. Your talent will only take you as far as your character will sustain you.
Thanksgiving is that special time of year where we are reminded to count our blessings. It might be cliche, but I still say it’s important. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged in leadership because everyone is quick to point out what is going wrong, not what is going right. An attitude of thankfulness can help shift your focus from what’s wrong to what’s right.
So with that being said, here are a few things that I am thankful for this year:
My Team – without them, I wouldn’t be a leader. I’m so thankful that they are crazy enough to be on my team. We’ve sure had some awesome times this year. I couldn’t do what I do without them. They are the BEST!
My Colleagues – I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by some pretty amazing people who offer constant encouragement and support. Thanks, guys!
My Family – behind every great leader is an even greater team… and I believe that the “greatest team” one can have is their family. Never forget them.
“Eureka” Moments – the team and I have planned several major events this year. And with each big event comes big problems that require creative solutions. On a few occasions we’ve been able to come up with that one brilliant idea. And for that, I am thankful.
My Job – it gets stressful and crazy, but at the end of the day, I absolutely love what I do. I choose to love the good, bad, and the ugly… I’m grateful for it all!
YOU – if it weren’t for you, the reader, this blog wouldn’t be too exciting. Thanks for reading and I hope something I’ve said has encouraged you to be a more effective leader!
“The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore M. Hesburgh
One of the fundamental responsibilities of a leader is to have and constantly communicate the VISION. A vision has two primary functions for your team. Vision serves as a compass and as fuel for you and your team.
COMPASS: Vision determines values. Values are the fundamental beliefs and standards that drive behavior and decision-making. Leaders must always make sure that the team’s priorities and decisions are aligned with the vision. Multiple visions lead to division. Upholding the vision as the number one priority will keep you and your team on course. Vision is what directs the team. No vision, no direction.
FUEL: I’ve worked on leadership committees for many large events over the past few years. Most of these events are staffed by volunteers–sometimes as many as a couple hundred. Some events had a clear vision and objective. Some events didn’t. I’ve noticed a direct connection between clarity of vision and the response from the volunteers. The events with a clear vision that was effectively communicated to the volunteer team produced incredible results. The volunteers rallied around the vision, worked harder, were more enthusiastic about the event, and complained less. Vision is what kept the team going. “A vision that creates opportunity for OTHERS, will never lack the involvement of OTHERS. Vision is contagious!” – Brian Houston
A final thought… “Vision fades. So leaders must continually remind, refresh, and restate it–monthly in my experience.” – Rick Warren As a leader, you have the responsibility to keep the vision alive. Habitually talk about it with your team. Remind them “why” we do what we do.
“Where there is no vision the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
When’s the last time you came up with a new way of doing things? Claiming that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the number one killer to creativity and progress. Resist the urge to just coast in leadership. Never say “this is the way we’ve always done it.” As a leader, you should evaluate your team’s operations on a regular basis. Even if everything is running smooth, challenge your team to come up with new methods of doing things. Ask “what if….” You might be surprised at the endless possibilities of answers.
According to study by IBM, “creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business.” Remember, creativity is not restricted to artists and designers. Leaders in all professions need an element of creativity to lead more effectively and take their team to the next level.
So, never get too comfortable. Always embrace fresh ideas. Do something no one has ever done before. If your team is constantly innovating, when a problem does arise, you’ll already have creative power flowing to solve the issue. Challenge your team to come up with the craziest solution possible. Even if the idea is totally unpractical, that idea has the potential to become the stepping stone to a brilliant practical idea. The point is to take the limits off and to get creative. And the more you do it, the better you’ll get.
The greatest leaders are those who challenged the status quo, took a risk, and thought outside of the box. Take a lesson from Steve Jobs. Push the limits. Be creative. Innovate.