Great Leadership is Not for the Faint Hearted

All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”
– John Kenneth Galbraith, U.S. economist, “The Age of Uncertainty”

The illusion of great leadership is it looks easy. Yet behind the scenes, leaders grapple with difficult scenarios, unclear situations, undefined possibilities, and regular risks. While not easy, it is a very satisfying job for those who are willing to put in the hard work, effort, and personal growth necessary to define new roads forward.

Leaders who shine have the ability to step into the tension to understand a situation and let go of “what is the right way” to search for the “best way.” Instead of focusing on who is right or wrong, they have honed the skill to focus on the path forward that creates a new flow for all involved.

Great leadership requires the following core skills:

  • Listening to understand the situation.
  • Being comfortable with ambiguity.
  • The ability to see the nuance in situations.
  • Trust in their intuition.
  • Openness to let go of perceptions to see with “new eyes.”
  • Capacity to work with diverse people and thought.
  • Holding the tension of any situation until a clear path appears to go forward.

Of course, leaders require competence in their field, experience in working with and through people, an understanding of innovation that comes from co-creation, a discipline of keeping the core operations strong in any environment, and a practice of continual learning and growth are the fundamentals necessary to even begin to lead others.

Don’t be afraid to go after large initiatives and aspirations by relying on the core skills above to create a better way to accomplish goals for yourself and others.

Excellence is not an accomplishment. It is a spirit, a never-ending process.”
Lawrence M. Miller