5. Great by Choice (Jim Collins).
Business professor and lecturer Jim Collins studied two teams travelling to the south pole, one who failed and one who succeeded, as part of answering the questions: "Why do some enterprises thrive in uncertainty and others do not?"
The X factor of great leadership is humility + will (he calls these "Level 5" leaders in his book Good to Great). What else is needed is:
a. Fanatic discipline. Create a 20-mile march and complete it every day! Don't over-stretch. Don't adopt an erratic pattern. Turn good intentions into great results. Growing by a consistent percentage like clockwork over a long period of time leads to success. The key is to commit to consistent, consecutive performance. The true signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.
b. Emperical creativity. Find new ways of doing things. Innovate and create the future. Fire bullets then canon balls. Fire enough little things to find out what works. Strive to be one fad behind. Blend creativity and discipline (both/and). Creativity is natural, discipline is not.
c. Productive paranoia. The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive! The greatest danger is not failure but to become successful and not know why. Create a 'SMaC recipe' that works. Follow it with great discipline and then adapt as time goes on based on empirical creativity. Preserve the core (your values that are not open to negotiation) AND stimulate progress (separate practices from values)!
Great leaders and/or winners are not luckier It's what they DID with these supposedly lucky events. Many people squander these potentially significant moments. Bad events can be defining events that make us better.
Both south pole explorers had the same environment and conditions. One rose and the other fell. Greatness is not primarily a function of circumstance but one of conscious choice and discipline. Build something enduring and great (a marriage, family, friendship, church, etc). Commit your life to this. It is impossible to have a great life without a meaningful life and meaning only comes out of great work of intrinsic excellence and beauty.
6. Leadership Trust (Bill Hybels).
At its very core, leadership is all about trust. Do people trust you … and the people you have empowered to lead? When we lose trust, it's game over. We can no longer lead. It all comes to a halt. Do a 'trust audit' – a heart check, not just a brain dump. Allow God to talk to you about your trustworthiness. Has there been any slippage lately? Is there any area of your life right now that would fail the trustworthiness test? Are you knowingly compromising your integrity in any significant way? In finances? Relationally (breach of confidentiality)? Legally (a grey area)? Sexually (private addiction)?
Because we have a 'slow to anger' God, sometimes he allows us to wander just a little bit to see if we can sort it out, without exposing us publicly. Will you this day pledge to do what is right? While you still have influence? Within 24 hours, make a choice to fix it. Do you have to blow your whole world up (family and ministry)? God is giving you an opportunity to get help now … so that you can maintain trust. Take one step towards integrity and you will feel the presence of God accompanying you for step two and three. There is such incredible freedom when we are right with God – a sense of joy!
Senior leaders are responsible for the integrity of all of our team within our organisation at every level. When you know people are off track, work up the courage to do something before more damage is done. We fail people when we are chicken. Is there anyone with whom you need to have a conversation? Is there someone you need to remove from leadership? They hurt too many people, they don't tell the truth, they don't follow up, etc. Trustworthiness is on the line.
Finally, celebrate the trustworthiness of God. He is always faithful and always keeps his Word. He always comes through. Everybody's life would be better off with God at the centre of it.