This One Leadership Quality Will Make or Break You – forbes.com

This One Leadership Quality Will Make or Break You

 

One of the most often overlooked aspects of leadership is the need for pursuit. Great leaders are never satisfied with traditional practice, static thinking, conventional wisdom, or common performance. In fact, the best leaders are simply uncomfortable with anything that embraces the status quo. Leadership is pursuit – pursuit of excellence, of elegance, of truth, of what’s next, of what if, of change, of value, of results, of relationships, of service, of knowledge, and of something bigger than themselves. In the text that follows I’ll examine the value of being a pursuer…

Here’s the thing – pursuit leads to attainment. What you pursue will determine the paths you travel, the people you associate with, the character you develop, and ultimately, what you do or don’t achieve. Having a mindset focused on pursuit is so critical to leadership that lacking this one quality can sentence you to mediocrity or even obsolescence. The manner, method, and motivation behind any pursuit is what sets truly great leaders apart from the masses. If you want to become a great leader, become a great pursuer.

A failure to embrace pursuit is to cede opportunity to others. A leader’s failure to pursue clarity leaves them amidst the fog. Their failure to pursue creativity relegates them to the routine and mundane. Their failure to pursue talent sentences them to a world of isolation.  Their failure to pursue change approves apathy. Their failure to pursue wisdom and discernment subjects them to distraction and folly. Their failure to pursue character leaves a question mark on their integrity. Let me put this as simply as I can – you cannot attain what you do not pursue.

Smart leaders understand it’s not just enough to pursue, but pursuit must be intentional, focused, consistent, aggressive, and unyielding. You must pursue the right things, for the right reasons, and at the right times. Perhaps most of all, the best forms of pursuit enlist others in the chase. Pursuit in its purest form is highly collaborative, very inclusive and easily transferable. Pursuit operates at greatest strength when it leverages velocity and scale.

I also want to caution you against trivial pursuits – don’t confuse pursuit with simple goal setting. Outcomes are clearly important, but as a leader, it’s what happens after the outcome that you need to be in pursuit of. Pursue discovery, seek dissenting opinions, develop your ability unlearn by embracing how much you don’t know, and find the kind of vision that truly does see around corners. Don’t use your pursuits to shift paradigms, pursue breaking them. Knowing what not to pursue is just as important as knowing what to pursue.

It’s important to keep in mind that nothing tells the world more about a leader than what or who they pursue – that which you pursue is that which you value. If you message to your organization you value talent, but don’t treat people well and don’t spend time developing the talent around you, then I would suggest you value rhetoric more than talent. Put simply, you can wax eloquent all you like, but your actions will ultimately reveal what you truly value.

Lastly, the best leaders pursue being better leaders. They know to fail in this pursuit is nothing short of a guarantee they’ll be replaced by those who don’t. All leaders would be well served to go back to school on what I refer to as the art and science of pursuitology.

What’s been the best thing you’ve pursued? What pursuit has led you astray. Thoughts?

Follow me on Twitter @mikemyatt

 

Comments

  • daburbdaburb 5 months ago

    The best thing I’ve learned to pursue is the truth. I pursue it with ‘hard questions’. A ‘hard question’ is one that requires an answer that is known to be true, even if it’s “I don’t know” as long as there is follow-up as to why the person doesn’t know, and if there is a mechanism to find the answer. I ask questions of others for two reasons – first and foremost is to educate myself and secondly to ensure that the person that is providing answers to me understands the answer and why its right and whether or not the answer is based on fact or conjecture. I’m not questioning their integrity, I’m challenging them to ask hard questions of others or to be prepared to bring about substantiated facts, or if they cannot be substantiated, to know the difference between the two and the amount of risk involved with the assumption of ‘truth’ regarding that fact. We’re not perfect but we can be a heck of a lot better by not assuming that what we’re told is correct, especially when you’re using that information to make a decision that affects the life and / or safety of a person or business.

    • Called-out comment
  • myjobmanmyjobman 5 months ago

    Nice article. A good leadership advice.

    http://www.myjobman.com

    • Called-out comment
  • msimmeringmsimmering 5 months ago

    Over years of providing leadership in small, medium, and large organizations, I’ve learned that companies and staff need outside targets to pursue and exploit.

    By that, I mean consistently researching and targeting new competitors, whether in fringe/expansionary markets, up and coming new ventures; direct or indirect, or simply those organizations employing best practices we could adopt and execute.

    Motivated employees and managers are very open to accept new tasks involving market research, strategic positioning, and tactical development, especially if they realize they will be intimately involved in any new initiatives which prove viable and contribute to the organization’s growth.

    • Called-out comment
  • petrisollmanpetrisollman 5 months ago

    Thanks Mike for great article!

    #1 Working on sales you need to do your numbers.

    But if you can find new innovative ways how customers can do their business and to get them competative edge and more valuable business or other values that will help them. I think that kind of business is one pursuit for me. The challenge is that sometimes these needs & wants are hidden and there are several of those. Also the relative priority changes over time.

    Great arcticle, it makes me think my own values and pursuits!

    Thanks
    -petri-

    • Called-out comment
  • aharrellaharrell 5 months ago

    I would also say pursuit of “Humility”…something we should ALL try to attain on a regular basis. Hubris has gotten the best of all of us…including our “so-called leaders”. I try to pursue “Humility” everyday…it keeps me grounded and healthy perspective on “Life”.

    • Called-out comment
  • Author
    Mike MyattMike Myatt, Contributor 5 months ago

    Agreed! There are few things more worthy of individual pursuit than humility. You might be interested in the following piece which takes a deep dive on the topic of humility: http://www.n2growth.com/blog/humility-and-leadership

    • Called-out comment
  • Author
    Mike MyattMike Myatt, Contributor 5 months ago

    In principle, I agree with the sentiments expressed in your comment. That said, keep in mind that the conjecture of some can be far more accurate than the “facts” as spun by others.

    By all means, question things, but remember the best form of questioning encourages discussion – it doesn’t end it. As suggested in one of the comments below, humility should be a key construct of any discourse. Many seem to have lost the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. Exercising humility goes a long way to solving this divide. Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts.

    • Called-out comment
  • Author
    Mike MyattMike Myatt, Contributor 5 months ago

    Thanks…

    • Called-out comment
  • Author
    Mike MyattMike Myatt, Contributor 5 months ago

    Thanks for the kind words Petri. Good luck in hitting your numbers.

    • Called-out comment
  • jrafter65jrafter65 5 months ago

    Data. Our professional lives are all about gathering data to understand what is happening, interpreting the data to make new decisions, and finally, starting the process all over again.

    I believe this process happens everywhere, for example, leaders seeking to understand how others are relating to them leading them to possibly modify their actions or style. Companies gather data to understand their markets, products, and customers to take corrective actions towards achieving their desired goals.

    Relentless pursuit of data enables you and your company to keep your pencil as sharp as possible.

    • Called-out comment
  • Author
    Mike MyattMike Myatt, Contributor 5 months ago

    Hi Chazz:

    Thanks for the kind words Chazz. Regrettably, the issues you describe don’t follow partisan lines – that would just be too easy.

    While I tend to be a bit more conservative in my beliefs, I’ve witnessed many who share my sentiments fall prey to parroting form over substance. Heck, there’s no shortage of people who accuse me of this:).

    Debate is a great thing. It educates and informs, and it evolves our thinking – so long as we keep the discourse civil and focus on the positions, and not the people who articulate them. Thanks for weighing-in Chazz.

    • Called-out comment
  • dmmatyasdmmatyas 5 months ago

    Pursuit of leadership is a great way to start the day. Everyday is a learning experience and should even the smallest tidbit of knowledge be obtained, then pursuit is forward. Are you equal to greater to or less than you were yesterday?
    Funny, making a life comparison to a mathmatical inequality, but I feel it’s true. I find it difficult to score a touchdown WITHOUT forward progress. Some of our pursuits DO lead us in other directions, but you are responsible for choosing the forward path. Nothing wrong with taking the long way home to see the others view. Learn from it and ultimatley use it strategically to increase YOUR forward progress. FORWARD!

    • Called-out comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s