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Why Leaders Need at Least 7 Qualities to Achieve Longevity

Updated: Jan 4

I was home cleaning out my cabinet, a junk drawer to be precise, and I came across a few Nokia phones (are you old enough to remember the green tinted screens before the age of texting?). Nokia, birth in Finland, was the pioneer of cellular networks and was the top company in the mobile market globally.

What happened to Nokia? Was it the internet, the rapid growth of data transmission that toppled them? I’m sure there are many reasons for Nokia falling behind the times. I think of the Buggy whip companies in the nineteenth century, they outlived their usefulness because they never saw the horseless carriage (automobile) coming. Good leaders discern change

A Leadership Deficiency

Did you know that only half the companies that hit the ground running are still in business ten years later, and only about 30% of those will last another five years? It takes strong leadership to achieve longevity because leaders must know how to recognize and navigate change.

Many companies over the years have had excellent managers at the helm, not realizing that there is a difference between managers and leaders, the lack of progress toward their objectives confounds them. Leaders navigate change while keeping the organization moving forward, even when good leaders are in managerial positions there is forward motion.

Don’t Confuse Leadership with Management

“When I was a child, I never played a game called follow the manager”

When you have an excellent manager in a top leadership position, it can spell trouble in changing environments if that manager doesn’t possess leadership skills. The difference between leaders and managers is in their motivations, gifts and talents.

Leaders cast vision - managers set goals

Leaders develop potential - managers develop systems

Leaders are known for taking risks – good managers control risk

Leaders drive growth – managers keep systems running smoothly

Organizations that achieve longevity understand the value of having excellent leaders and managers in the right positions so, they get the right people on the bus and in the right seats, as Jim Collins would say.

Nokia may have lacked good leaders who think ahead and change with the times, working with excellent managers who can develop the necessary systems to keep things running seamlessly during times of transition.

Leading Through Transition is Not Easy

“He who makes no mistakes, makes no progress.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

Seeing trends and challenges on the horizon is important, knowing what needs to be done and when is priceless. Good leaders are lifelong learners who are uncovering and correcting their flaws.

Seven Leadership Qualities That Stand the Test of Time (1)

Quality #1 - Character

  • Character is more than talk

  • Talent is a gift, but character is a choice

  • Character brings lasting success with people

  • Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character

Quality #2 - Commitment

  • Start in the heart (It’s an inside job)

  • Is tested by action

  • Open the door to achievement

Quality #3 - Competence

  • Show up every day

  • Keep improving

  • Follow through with excellence

  • Accomplish more than expected

  • Inspire others

Quality #4 - Discernment

  • Discover the root issues

  • Enhance your problem solving

  • Evaluate your options for maximum impact

  • Multiply opportunities

Quality #5 - Listening

  • Your followers

  • Your customers

  • Your competitors

  • Your mentors

Quality #6 - Problem Solving

  • They anticipate problems

  • They accept the truth

  • They see the big picture

  • They handle one thing at a time

  • They don’t give up a major goal when they’re down

Quality #7 - Teachability

  • Cure your destination disease

  • Overcome your success

  • Swear off shortcuts

  • Trade in your pride

  • Never pay twice for the same mistake

(1) “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” by John C. Maxwell

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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