Distinguished Leaders are resourceful and innovative. It is about more than just thinking outside of the box. They accept how things are rather than wishing things were better; then they get resourceful and find new ways of solving old problems. Being resourceful requires them to deal skillfully and promptly to solve difficult problems rather than engaging in analysis paralysis. Distinguished Leaders are innovative, which requires them to use new thinking, new perspectives, and new solutions for all challenges, new and old. Innovation often requires making changes that affect the status quo, which definitely brings resistance from those who develop, support, and maintain the status quo for their own benefit or comfort. Distinguished Leaders use progressive thinking to innovate, and then use confidence and competence to take actions that are resourceful.
One of my clients was habitually following the instructions, style, and philosophy of her ineffective and authoritarian boss…then chronically wondered why she never felt successful. After she and I analyzed her boss, she was able to see that he was her diametric opposite, as a person and as a leader. He was a dictator, liked to demean people to “keep them on their toes,” and created chronic chaos by changing things “just to keep people off balanced.” As the light bulb turned on in her head, she was able to see that she was succumbing to his pressure to use his leadership style (authoritarian/dictator), not her own. This awareness created yet another problem for her: she became aware that she didn’t know what her style was. Over time, she and I identified her philosophy of life (kindness and compassion), who she wanted to help (those traumatized by others), and what was the most effective leadership style for her personality type (coaching). We discussed how she could use this awareness and information to practice a leadership style that was effective with her employees. She had to learn more about human nature, personality types, motivators and de-motivators, and how to communicate more effectively with others. Today she is a Distinguished Leader who knows who she is, what kind of a leader she wants to be, and what skill sets she needs to be successful as a leader and person. She had to become quite resourceful and innovative to overcome the inertia of her company’s culture, oppose her boss’s pressure to be a dictator and meanie, and stand up for herself and her employees who were under constant siege. Distinguished Leaders are resourceful and innovative.
Distinguished Leaders are strategically patient…with people, policies, and practices. They are not impulsive, impatient, or nonstrategic. They work throughout their lifetimes to have the skill sets and temperament to be effective when the occasion arises. They wait until the time is right. They gather their allies. They identify and corral their adversaries. They tap into their personal power, professional power, competencies, and confidence. Then they strategically wait with patience until everything is in alignment to enhance the probability of success, and they move forward leading the way.
Many leaders are very good at what they do. They are smart, talented, analytical, strategic, and people-focused. Yet patience takes much practice and many leaders don’t practice patience. Then to compound their problem with lack of patience, they do not develop the confidence to wait with strategic patience until the time is right and all resources are in alignment. Distinguished Leaders practice throughout their lifetimes so that they are able to be strategically patient, whether with minor challenges or major challenges.
Prosocial Causes are engaged in to strategically and effectively act on behalf of others based on principle and/or social obligation while disregarding self-interest and pressures to not act, including, but not limited to, the risk of disapproval, judgment, retaliation, and ostracism from others and/or society. Prosocial causes are acting beyond expected or required behaviors using effective political skills and strategic efforts to create a transformation away from the status quo and toward more progressive thoughts, actions, and deeds.
Examples of Prosocial Causes that Distinguished Leaders engage in and/or lead include, but are not limited to:
• Hiring Women/Allies into Leadership
• Paying Comparable Salaries
• Mentoring & Promoting Women/Allies
• Encouraging Women to Go Into Male-Dominated Careers/Professions
• Assigning Women Into Leadership Positions for Committees/Projects
• Prioritizing Customer Service
• Opposing Under-Staffing/Resourcing
• Leading with Kindness
• Advocating for Women’s Equality
• Engaging in Transformative Action
• Leading Transformative Movements
Distinguished Leaders are proactive, not reactive. Reactive leaders wait until there is a problem and then react to the problem. They are constantly putting out fires, often of their own creation from poor planning or no planning. They are not looking at the cause of the problem, much less strategically planning in an effort to reduce problems. Not all problems are foreseeable, yet many are.
Distinguished Leaders are proactive. They use their education, training, life experience, professional experience, and competence and confidence to take life head on rather than just waiting on life to happen. The seek to identify issues, analyze problems, focus on intended consequences, consider potential unintended consequences, and what strategic planning and actions are required to prevent problems or manage them as they come up. Instead of putting out fires, they developed the habit of being Fire Prevention Officers and effective Fire Fighters when needed. Distinguished Leaders use their personal power to give them the confidence to be proactive, and then couple this with their professional power to ensure they are proactive and effective leaders.
Many of my clients feel overwhelmed by the multiple problems occurring at their jobs. They get stressed out over time, which leads to burnout and ineffective leadership. The major habit each of them has that Distinguished Leaders don’t have is the habit of not following up on things. If they ask an employee to do something, they don’t follow up to ensure that the task was done. If they gather and compile a report for their boss, they don’t follow up to see if it is being used to affect positive change. If they implement a policy, they don’t follow up to see if employees understand why they need to follow the policy. Their rationalization for not following up is consistent: “I don’t have the time. I’m overwhelmed. There is to much to do.” Until they begin to practice being proactive, they really don’t have the time to follow up, which means they get overwhelmed from to much to do. It requires much more energy and time to put out a fire than it does to prevent a fire. Fire prevention requires proactive thinking, choices, decisions, and actions. Distinguished Leaders are proactive, not reactive.
Distinguished Leaders are optimistic and determined. Many people confuse optimism with hope. Hope is wishing someone or something is going to come and save the day. Optimism is that sure and sudden knowledge that your Spirit shares with you through your intuition that there is light at the end of this tunnel; that even though things look grim right now, they will get better…and ACTING on this knowing by continuing to persist and be resilient to the stress and doubts you are experiencing at this time.
Distinguished Leaders use determination to keep on going even when the odds look stacked against them. Determination is the choice to stay focused and to persist no matter how hard. Determination becomes an easier and easier choice as we practice staying focused and persisting. It doesn’t come naturally for some people, so they must make this choice more often. For others, determination comes naturally as a function of their personalities, yet they must also practice staying focused on doing the right thing, not just fueling their determination by staying focused on their anger at the situation/person.
My interviews with many Distinguished Leaders revealed that Hope was not a word in their vocabularies. They were not in the habit of waiting for someone or something else to come to their aid. They did not wait on divine revelation for answers nor did they wait on others to make the decisions or implement solutions for them. Distinguished Leaders depend on their optimistic personalities to spur them forward. Not all of them were born with optimistic personalities. Most developed optimistic personalities by analyzing their past and honestly assessing, that in general, their lives…even though fraught with many challenges…always seemed to get back on track…not out of luck, blind faith, or hope, but from them developing competence and confidence…and taking action on their own behalf or the behalf of others.