While I completely agree that a key attribute of a good leader is perseverance, I would also say that a leader also needs to know when to make adjustments. As leaders, we need to persevere through challenging times based on those core convictions and purpose that we have predetermined to be our unchanging values that we will never compromise. We maintain these guiding principles regardless of the situation and display whatever toughness is needed to navigate through the challenging times. Leaders with a solid foundation and clearly defined purpose are best equipped to successfully guide their followers in such times.
However, it is equally as important for leaders to know when to make changes in the tactical approach during such times as well. While neither the purpose nor the core convictions change, we may need to make adjustments to our strategy or detail plans to achieve our desired results. The key for any leader is to recognize not only what changes to make, but when to make these changes. One of a leader’s greatest challenges is to make the right adjustment at the right time while not compromising our convictions or purpose,
I learned this lesson playing high school baseball. I was a very good high school fastball hitter. I rarely swung and missed at a fastball regardless of how hard the pitcher was throwing. However, I was not a very good curveball hitter. I rarely got a hit on a curveball. Knowing this fact, I played to my strengths all three years of high school and summer ball. I got in the back of the batter’s box and hit the first fastball that was near the plate. My goal was not to see many curveballs. For the most part that worked well since the next three guys batting behind me in the lineup would all eventually get drafted to play pro baseball. No one wanted to walk me; therefore lots of fastballs!
That approach worked fine until the state semi-final game of my junior year. We were facing a pitcher that threw pretty hard and had a great curveball. It was late in the game, we were down by one run, and I came to bat with a runner on third and one out. The pitcher started me off with two outstanding curveballs, and I wasn’t even close to hitting either one. The game was on the line, and I had to do something different. There was no doubt that I was committed and wanted to succeed as much as anyone, but there was still a challenge to overcome. I moved as far up in the box as I could get, moved closer to the plate, and choked up a little more on the bat. I would try to hit that curve before it broke. I made sure the catcher noticed my change in approach thinking he may notice and go fastball on the next pitch. He did just that and I got enough of that pitch to get a hit between short and third. Not a great hit by any means, but enough to get the run in and tie the game.
While it’s a great attribute to be super committed and persevere, there are times that we need to make adjustments. We have to refocus on our strengths and offset our weaknesses. There are times that we need to change our approach given the circumstances and variables in play at any given time. If we aren’t getting the results we desire, evaluate both strategy and execution. Is our strategy (doing right things) sound in that it will lead to success if executed well? Furthermore, are we equipped to execute it well? A great strategy that can’t be executed well leads to failure. Are we executing (doing things right) at our level of capability? If we are not, why not?
Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Too many leaders take too much pride in the position and don’t get help when they are in trouble. The leader doesn’t have to provide all the answers, but the leader does need to be relentless in getting those answers from all available resources. The leader doesn’t always have to provide the best idea or solution, but the leader does need to engage as many people as possible until the best ideas and solutions are developed.
A solid leader is close enough to the situation to recognize when changes are needed. We need to be sensitive to the follower’s abilities and needs, as well as the circumstances surrounding the team. The leader needs to maintain those core values and purpose, but make adjustments as needed. Leaders should play to the team’s strengths, compensate for those weaknesses, get help when needed, and be a leader worthy of following.
By the way, we ended up winning that game. One of those future pros got a hit right after me, and I scored. I don’t think he had to make any adjustments! He never gets to bat if I don’t swallow some pride and punch out a hit though. Where do you need to choke up and lead your team more effectively today?