It Doesn’t Take Superhuman Efforts to Appear Superhuman in Your Organization
For years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside and study great leaders. I’ve learned from them, worked hard to emulate them, and leveraged them as models for the person I strive to be.
I’ve listened to their colleagues commenting on things like their endless drive, meticulous attention to detail, and abundant energy—every noted trait being incredibly accurate assessment of their character.
But what has stood out most to me throughout the years is each great leader’s focus on doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. As subtle as it seems, I believe this quality is what distinguishes them most.
Great Leaders Don’t Wait to Be Asked
Being proactive is one ordinary thing this group of greats does extraordinarily well. Instead of waiting for others to ask for their help, they actively seek ways to contribute. Whether helping clients or employees, they’re continually looking onward and helping others move ahead.
Great leaders always have a ready plan for the path forward, and they prepare and mobilize themselves and others in advance. While others are seeking them out for guidance and advice, they have already anticipated ways they can assist. They go above and beyond every time by simply finding ways to add value wherever possible.
Great Leaders Incrementally Improve
Even though it appears great leaders always have the right answer, the reality is they can’t and don’t. Instead, they proceed confidently and stay connected to their decisions. In parallel, they continuously and iteratively advance their thinking and actions. By remaining attached, active, and always improving, they don’t have to be right all the time.
Staying connected is as simple as frequent communication with others. Great leaders talk and listen, seeking understanding, to move forward in an educated way. Analyzing situations and work products from others’ perspectives as well as their own helps them make better decisions. Balanced confidence in themselves and consideration of others makes leaders and their businesses great.
Great Leaders Organize Thoughts and Plans
I have never seen a half-baked idea presented by a great leader. Instead, they take great care to document their thinking clearly and concisely, so everyone can understand, regardless of background, role, or skill level.
Their planning is fluid and iterative. They think, document, rest, return, revise, and repeat over time, acknowledging their best thinking doesn’t happen in an instant. They seek others’ feedback throughout the process and ensure their plans are the culmination of everyone’s best ideas. They go out of their way to get others on board, greatly expanding the impact of their work.
While many see great leaders as superhuman, the reality is less supernatural and more straightforward. They’re simply doing ordinary things exceptionally well. By being self-aware and self-managed, great leaders stay connected to what matters most and always seek to improve their work and relationships.
By just investing time in iterative ideation and improvement and staying connected to your decisions, products, and people, you too can demonstrate great leadership.
Ask these questions
- What ordinary things are mission critical?
- How can I better anticipate what’s ahead?
- What is the best way to track my decisions?
- How often should I revisit my decisions?
- How can I better organize thoughts and plans?
About John Fildes
I grow the bottom line by connecting marketing to business strategy. By leveraging powerful positioning, content marketing, and client insights, I help CEOs drive qualitative and quantitative results at scale.
I've built an amazing network of incredibly talented people over the years. What I've appreciated most is those who have invested in me, mentored me, and helped me become the talented professional I am today. I pay it forward by doing the same for other high performing professionals and entrepreneurs.
All views are my own and not those of my current or prior employers.