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How Leaders Succeed

Leaders come in many forms but all the good ones have one thing in common – they deliver a better future. Be it in sport, business, politics, science, the arts this is the one measure that defines them.

Of course, this is easier said than done not least because it takes courage. Anyone can rationalise and defend their decisions based upon the verifiable facts of today’s reality. But to take a risk in the name of a better tomorrow takes courage because it’s a bet on the unknown and the unverifiable – it’s a bet on what’s worthwhile rather than what’s real. But that is the challenge for any leader.

Of course, this brings with it a paradox: in order to create tomorrow we still have to deal with today effectively. And doing what’s needed today can be so absorbing & even distracting, that good leadership can get forgotten. A good leader thereby runs the risk of becoming ordinary.

The first step towards the ‘extraordinary’ is clarity: that a better tomorrow is possible. The second step is to show this possibility to others frequently and relentlessly. The third step is to show how this can be achieved. And the fourth step is to embrace it as a reality that is embodied in who the leader is in themselves. As Gandhi famously advised “be the change you want to see in the world”. This is the anchor that keeps leaders on their path to the future.

When a leader fails to embody the change, they want to see, they lose touch with the future they are trying to create and they lose the respect of those they are trying lead there. To be the change is the greatest gift a leader can give today in the name of a better tomorrow. 

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