Stop Reading Lists of Things Successful People Do
Great article in the Harvard Business Review below! Reminds me of my clients' no. 1 question: "How can I become a better leader?" And then people expect a textbook solution from me. The reality is: there is no textbook solution for better leadership. In fact, following advice on what worked for others might be damaging for you.
Real life story:
In my former job, I experienced a manager who was very intelligent and well educated. Most thought he had high potential. But he had no clear idea who he was and what he wanted to stand for.
Leading his team did not work out well. In his desperation to get the situation under control, he copied behaviors of various role models. He became a 'white-label' leader, trying to re-brand others’ ideas and management styles as his own. Not seeing results quickly enough triggered him to change his approach almost weekly. This only made things worse: His team could not 'grasp' the person, and they could not adjust themselves accordingly. The otherwise very capable manager derailed completely—and resigned.
Being successful as a leader is all about you. I encourage my executive coaching clients to read all the textbooks if they like. This may very well be inspiring. However, at the end of the day it comes down to who you are as a person:
- What do you stand for as a leader?
- What are your values and beliefs that guide you?
- What are your unique strengths that you can build on to become the leader only you can be?
- What weakness, that might get in your way, do you need to overcome?
Success is personal, not universal. So embarque on your own personal leadership development journey.
Who doesn’t love a “how to succeed” list? They’re fun to read and easy to share, which perhaps explains why there are so many of them. And the advice they give often sounds reasonable: The World Economic Forum published a post, in cooperation with Business Insider, listing 14 things successful people do before breakfast. It includes items such as drinking water and making your bed. A list that Forbes published claims every successful person shares this quality: “They know when to stay and when to leave.” (...) This one, from Inc., encourages readers to give up needing approval and fixating on their weaknesses. But as palatable as these lists are, they can do damage. There are several reasons why they may be not only useless but also potentially harmful to decision makers, managers, and entrepreneurs.