When you ask successful leaders what it takes for the people in their organization to succeed, they will most often tell you it’s about perseverance, continuing in the face of difficulty. That’s a great answer. There are countless examples of people who defied the odds, refused to take no for an answer, and never gave up.
Perseverance is a great discipline to have—once you’re in the game.
The problem is most people never get in the game.
What I mean by being in the game is doing more than the bare minimum, looking for ways to improve things and make a difference, and acting like your work is about more than just a paycheck. When you’re in the game, you’re invested in not only your success, but also the success of your organization.
I’ve talked on many occasions and in my books about fear and excuses. These are the things that keep you from being fully engaged at work. So often fear and excuses show up as complaining, constant criticism, blame, gossip, and other unproductive habits.
These are the things you use to keep yourself from getting in the game. But the fact of the matter is, many people can’t get into the game by themselves. They need help.
One great way to get your employees or colleagues into the game is by creating a leadership development program.
For the past six months, I’ve been an instructor in a program called SHIELD—Sheriff’s Institute for Ethical Leadership Development—here in Austin at the Travis County Sheriff’s Academy.
The final assignment of the program was to identify a way to bring positive change to the Sheriff’s Office and present that idea to the Sheriff and his command staff. In other words, it was getting mid-level employees into the game.
The last presenter started by saying there were things in his division he’s been whining about for a while. Through the leadership development program, he finally realized he needed to step up and propose a solution instead of just complaining all the time.
In other words, he realized it was time to get in the game.
He discovered that in order for things to change, he would have to be the one to do something different. He may not have known he was illustrating the first of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Be Proactive.
It’s time to stop waiting for your organization to do everything for you. It’s time to realize that you’re better than whining, complaining, blaming, and gossiping. It’s time to realize that you hold the key to your own success and no one else.
I’m convinced that structured leadership programs help create greater collaboration, greater understanding, and greater efficiencies in organizations. They encourage participants to seek out improvements that can be made in the organization and provide an avenue for participants to make their case before the organization’s administration.
Does your company or organization have a leadership program where you get to contribute to improving quality, reducing waste, changing policy, and increasing the bottom line? Do you get to influence the vision of the organization?
If not, ask your company or organization to develop one. It will change the course of the organization and will change the lives of the employees.
The road to success very may well be paved with perseverance, but if the employees are not being invited in the game, no amount of perseverance will matter.