What Does it Take to Lead Today?

What Does it Take to Lead Today?

by Allison Darling

The answer to this question is not much different than it was at the turn of either of the past two centuries. And it’s no different today than it was one year ago or will be one year from now.

To illustrate, take a moment to create a mental picture of a leader you personally admire. Focus on appearance, actions, habits, and lifestyle. Now that you have a clear impression, consider that everyone’s image of leadership is different.

In fact, there are as many combinations of characteristics as there are leaders. With all of these differences, however, they do have one thing in common. LEADERS GET RESULTS!!!

It’s Simple–Leaders Perform
Several years ago, a client shared with me what he calls the VUCA Model (of leadership). Retired Army Colonel Bill Orlov asserted that leaders are paid to get results amidst Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. While situations may differ, the greater your ability to get results despite VUCA, the more handsomely you are rewarded and the more successful you and your organization become.

No matter where you lead from—home office or the executive suite—the greater your ability to deal with VUCA; get results; and learn, unlearn, and relearn; the better your outcomes and faster your success. These simple facts of leadership do not change!

Effective leaders assume goals can be accomplished, jobs can be done, problems solved, and obstacles overcome. Positive and negative examples of the effect of attitude on performance are everywhere. Leaders create their own future and drive the future success of their organizations.


A Straightforward Investment Model
The Expense Perspective—Automatic reactions, in times of great VUCA, include eliminating leadership development initiatives. If these activities are seen and carried out as expenses, this response is understandable. However …

The Investment Perspective—Far-sighted leaders continuously invest in their ability to get better results. They relentlessly assess and improve Strategy, People and Processes. The returns on smart investments include people who are better able to increase revenues, decrease expenses, and lead toward positive outcomes. Isn’t this critical to the creation and maintenance of a competitive edge?

If we agree that leadership is about getting results, the investment decision becomes ever more straightforward and important. The strategy is simple. Rather than “training” toward a standard set of characteristics, identify the results you want and “develop” people to get those results. Intelligent investing now can mean the difference between closing shop or losing your job and successful competition as an individual and/or organization.

Where to Focus
When creating your investment strategy, consider what people who get results have in common.

  • Vision—The first step to new levels of achievement is the capacity to create a compelling vision.
  • Courage—Most people fail to achieve all that they are capable of because they are shackled by their own fears. It’s not that courageous leaders are not afraid, but that even when afraid, they muster the will to press on and do what is necessary and right to overcome obstacles.
  • Confidence—Great leaders have unshakable belief in themselves. They believe that they can make happen what they want to happen.
  • Focus—The ability to stay on track, organize yourself and reduce debilitating distractions is essential to achieving results. Great leaders have the ability to separate what is immediately pressing from what is truly important.
  • Purpose—Strength of purpose enables leaders to persist in the face of overwhelming obstacles. Leaders are committed to what they undertake.
  • Values—A strong sense of values is critical for a leader’s long-term success.


Develop Leadership Everywhere
Based on our definition it’s possible for anyone be a leader. Consider the impact on our country, businesses, communities and families if, at every turn, people are developing themselves to get better results. At a time when we are being asked to do increasingly more with less, creating leaders at every level is our wisest investment.

The key to leading today, then, is not only addressing current concerns, but also building the capacity to effectively manage toward and into the future.  How well are you doing?

Great leaders take responsibility. They make choices that get them closer to their vision. If each of us were to step back just long enough to develop some aspect of our self into a better leader, what impact would we have? Current conditions just mean that the details are different. Leadership always has been, and always will be, about getting results.


3 Key Points

  • One thing all leaders have in common … LEADERS GET RESULTS!!!
  • Developing leadership in yourself and throughout your organization is an INVESTMENT in improved performance.
  • At a time when we are being asked to do increasingly more with less, creating leaders at every level is our wisest investment.


Allison Darling, President of Management Concepts, Inc., is a highly acclaimed facilitator and business and personal development coach.  Drawing on extensive management experience at two fortune 100 companies, Allison founded Management Concepts, a national organization, in 1994. Management Concepts has helped thousands of individuals utilize a unique, time-tested approach to leadership and organizational development through its GoalGETTERSSM program.  Clients achieve significantly improved, measurable results in four areas: financial performance; managing and leading people; getting and keeping customers; and growth and innovation.
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