I am very, very tired. What am I tired of? I am tired of Leadership Mediocrity.
I have met so many leaders of late who are just boring. Yep that is right- completely and utterly boring. Plain. Safe. Vanilla. Unremarkable. Dull. Yawn.
I ask them what they do. “I am the Director of Blockedity Block” they say. Hmm. I ask “well that is your title, but what do you do?” They shift uncomfortably in their chair and say “well I direct the blah blah and the blahly blah. I have been here for ten years.” Yawn. What is going on? Where did these bland bureaucrats come from? Oh where oh where is the dynamic leader? the energy? the personality?
I swear to you it makes me want to force feed a two liter of Mountain Dew down their gullet. Why? Because mediocrity is a choice and it is getting to me that so many leaders decide to just be mediocre. The minimum standard, a passing grade, 3 on a scale of 1-7. Oh sure, you can be “average” or “safe” but why?
Lets think about amazing iconic leaders: Martin Luther King, Jack Welch (former G.E. CEO) Richard Branson (Virgin CEO) Sam Walton ( the late CEO of Walmart) Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Walt Disney, Mary Kay ( the late CEO of Mary Kay).
What would you say about them? They were all extraordinary. They were all remarkable in some way. As Anthony Robbins once said “There is no greatness without a passion to be great, whether it’s the aspiration of an athlete or an artist, a scientist, a parent, or a businessperson.”
So being dull and safe and unremarkable will not get you ahead or help you be successful. So why are people not remarkable? Here are the reasons and of course some high caffeine solutions:
- Fear. I know people who are afraid to take risks. It’s neater and safer to not rock the boat to tow the line and not step out too far onto the plank. I mean it’s too dangerous! We are in an age of remarkably tough competition in the marketplace. But I have bad news- being that way will not keep you safe it will get you cut in the next round of layoffs. High caffeine solution: Decide to be remarkable at something. Be the stone cold absolute thought leader in your niche and own it. If you are a tax accountant, be the best on the planet, not one of many.
- Lack of passion. Yeah I know here comes that motivational speaker stuff. Nope. I am talking about being in a job or a field that you have a passion for. Are you? One that gets you excited about in the morning when you get up? Lots of people I meet are to quote Loverboy “working for the weekend” .However, the truly remarkable leaders I meet are excited by what they do, who they work with and where they work. High caffeine solution: If you don’t love what you do get out. Please. Go somewhere were you have the chance to be remarkable. Life is too short.
- Being tenure bound. I meet leaders who work in government agencies and companies who are bored out of their skulls. But they will never leave because they have been there too long. What? Ask them they say “are you kidding? I have been here 22 years, leave now and lose my (fill in the blank)?” I say “but said you are miserable.” “yeah” they say “but I can retire in 10 years!” High caffeine solution: Do some real soul searching and decide if you want to be miserable for the next _______ years or live a fuller life. Your call. I find most people much more successful when they are doing their true calling. Even when they make less money.
- They don’t want to be. There are some people on this planet of ours who amazingly have no desire to be remarkable. They are perfectly happy to just to do what is expected and get along. When asked they say “hey work is work, nothing to get excited about.” High caffeine solution: See #2.
- The job doesn’t make it possible. Some people have the mistaken concept that in some roles it is impossible to be remarkable. “Hey I am the Assistant Manager at Biffie’s Burger Barn. We have ways we do things and none of our part timer employees give a darn, and this isn’t a career for anyone.” Nonsense. With hard work and time they could be the CEO of the company. Being a remarkable leader is possible anywhere. I meet people in leader roles all the time in “unglamorous” fields that are amazing. High caffeine solution: Reset your thinking. It’s not where you are but what you do that makes you remarkable. Choose.
There is lastly a very compelling reason why as a leader you need to be, have to be remarkable. You have people who report to you. They are looking up to you to be remarkable. You have a responsibility to model it for them. So pick up the mirror and take a hard look at you self and ask “what makes you remarkable? “
Originally Published in B2B Magazine
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