Strong-Ties: The Stuff that Matters to Exceptional Leaders

Weak ties allow us to connect and network with people around the world. Strong-Ties are foundational to success and effectiveness in life and leadership. (For more on Strong-Ties philosophy, check out one of my earlier posts.) The following Strong-Ties are the focus of development for the Exceptional Leader:

They pursue Professional Competence. Exceptional leaders are students of their profession and stay up to date on trends in their industry that may affect their business. They are also students of their organization and the talent that surrounds them, and align these to ensure the are designed to maximize the results they are focused on achieving.

They pursue Personal Excellence. Exceptional leaders are constantly refining themselves and developing their skills and character. Research indicates that a leader’s effectiveness is based more on EQ that IQ. EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, is defined by self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management. They use a variety of tools and coaches to help them gain an accurate picture of the kind of leader they are today, and they develop solid strategies that will help them become the leader they envision. They have usually developed a personal purpose, mission and vision that serve as guide he keeps them focused and on track. They capitalize on their strengths and ensure that their weaknesses don’t lead to their derailment.

They are Students of Leadership. Exceptional Leaders have a unique appreciation of their role as leaders, fully aware of the impact they have on those they lead and on the organization as a whole. They refuse to allow the position to go to their head. Keeping their ego in check, they focus on the development of others and of the organization.

They have Well-Defined Core Values. Identifying your core values is as critical as developing your business plan. Research is growing in the field of Spiritual Intelligence, which takes a look at the foundational values that form the basis for decision making. Core Values are the anchor or central focal point of life that helps leaders keep all other Strong-Ties in balance. Unfortunately there are too many stories of leaders who have derailed and caused others to stumble because they did not clearly identify their values and maintain their commit to them as the guiding principles for their life, leadership, decisions and relationships.

They exhibit Mental Strength and Emotional Wellness. Not unlike the Olympic athlete or members of the elite special forces, leaders of all types must be prepared for the mental pressures that accompany leadership. It takes unusual mental stamina, agility and strength to perform under these pressures, an aspect of leadership that is often underestimated. The stresses and strains of decision making that affect you, your family and the lives of so many other stakeholders require that you have a sound strategy for maintaining exceptional mental and emotional health and personal well-being.

They keep their Primary Promises. Very few effective and respected leaders have achieved their goals and objectives alone. More often than not, they are supported by a spouse and family who have been with them on the journey. Unfortunately, the tales of leadership are filled with the casualties of broken marriages and children run amuck, and with leaders who have lost their credibility because they were ineffective in these most primary and basic relationships. It is possible to achieve success without failing your family, but it will take openness, planning and determination.

They develop strategies for Financial Soundness. Money, like power, often accompanies leadership and success. Unfortunately, both have the ability to corrupt or derail really good people. Developing a sound financial philosophy and strategy will serve you well through this leadership journey whether you are blessed with little, enough, or more than you ever dreamed possible. That leads to a great question worth exploring, What is enough? But that’s a topic for another discussion.

They maintain their Physical Wellness. Much like mental and emotional stamina, physical stamina is required for the journey. Simply put, leadership can take its toll on our body. It is so easy to get so caught up in the tasks of leadership, or so exhausted by them that we simply neglect our own health. Developing a plan for maintaining your physical health and stamina will go a long way toward finishing strong. Much like the marathon, there is nothing quite like rounding the corner of life for the home stretch and crossing the finish line among the cheers of friends, family and our Greatest Fan who will be saying, ‘Well done!’

They maintain Strong Relationships. Isolation is a path of least resistance for leaders, but it is also the most dangerous for a host of reasons. ‘Community’ is used broadly here, referring to those you surround yourself with (business and accountability partners), as well as those you serve. Since there is only so much time in a day, week, month, year, lifetime, it becomes critical that you think through your plan for community which may include your selection of business partners, clients, suppliers, as well as your involvement in religious, civic and charitable activities. Involvement in the latter of these will do wonders for the development of perspective about life, work, challenges, obstacles and the strength of your fellow human beings.

They free themselves from destructive Strong-Holds. There is often a tug-o-war between the incorporation of the Strong-Ties that lead to success and effectiveness, and the more destructive Ties that seem bent on ensuring our failure. If we are not careful these destructive elements in our life actually become Strong-Holds that limit our success and effectiveness. Some of the destructive Ties consist of negative messages that we have either heard from others or ourselves over the course of our lives, and have come to believe as truth. They can consist of negative self-image and attitudes, bitterness toward someone who has treated us unjustly, or habits and addictions that seem to be unbreakable. Though it is true that these Strong-Holds can feel like an anchor that keeps us from rising to the top, they are not insurmountable, nor do they need to continue to be the controlling force in your life.

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