There are many ways that a leader can fail. But if you want to reduce it to two areas that cover most of the territory, those two areas would include 1) failing to make hard, but necessary, decisions, and 2) failing to execute.
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is, “When I am no longer here and someone else takes my role, what are the first three decisions they’re going to make that will seem obvious to them and will look like complete negligence on my part?”
You can find hundreds of ideas about what leadership requires, but the essence of leadership is moving those in their charge to a better future state. Avoiding making the hard decisions necessary to get to that future state is a recipe for failing as a leader.
As a leader, you are required to make decisions that are difficult. You will have to reckon with very real, and very difficult issues without easy answers. You will make some of these decisions without perfect information, and while worrying about whether the decision is correct (something you may not know until you take enough action to be able to assess the decision). They greater danger is more often found in not making the necessary decisions.
Equally as dangerous to leaders is a failure to execute on the decisions they make. If something needs to be done, then the accountability must cascade from the leader down to all the people in their charge. A lack of accountability for the execution of the decisions, the day-to-day things that must be done, will derail a leader as fast as anything else.
It’s more likely that the decision and strategy are fine and the execution is poor than the other way around. It’s also more likely that as people resist change in an attempt to wait you out. If you want the results you need to deliver a better future state, accountability for execution is the recipe for delivering it.
Leadership, in large part, is made up of making tough decisions and executing those decisions.
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