This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Read Leon’s first article, ”Eight skills leaders need to foster innovation“, part of the Leadership Lab series.
Leadership, an elusive quality, is clearly identifiable in those displaying it and seemingly missing from those struggling with it.
One of the most important experts on achieving success is Dr. Jason Selk, author of the best sellers 10-minute Toughness and Executive Toughness. Most known for his work as director of mental training for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dr. Selk was in Toronto recently, and last discussed the ‘perfect schedule’ in the Leadership Lab.
We can learn a great deal about leadership from Dr. Selk’s concepts for achieving success. One of his most outstanding ideas – which has made him a celebrated performance coach – is his methodology to develop and practice relentless solution focus (RSF). He advises moving from constantly dealing with problems to focusing only on solutions. A 60-second practice of replacing all negative thinking with solution-focused thoughts will guarantee a happier and healthier life.
The challenge for an organization’s leaders is how to turn these strong principles into a process – one that creates a winning team. A leader is the driver; the processes need to be delegated and shared. Here are 10 thoughts about how to make it happen.
1. Bring the concept of process over problems into your executive team. There are goals, and problems to solve, but they will not be achieved until solutions are first considered.
2. Think of solutions as the organization’s major goal. Any improvement – however small – is a success, Dr. Selk said. Acknowledge it and build on it. It feels good. That’s important.
3. Recognize that feeling good is an essential team goal. Why is that? Feeling good contributes to self-esteem. Positive self-esteem builds confidence. Self-confidence leads to success. Negativity detracts from achievement.
4. Winners feel self-confident. They have achieved goals and won. They know they’ve achieved and are ready for the next victory.
5. The leader must create a climate of many victories. There can’t be big victories all the time. Some small successes – every day – are what leaders need to highlight. As Dr. Selk often says, “Maybe you can’t make 40 calls a day but you can make five. That’s a process you can live with each and every day.”
6. Process is everything. Many leaders know this intuitively but confuse the need to achieve bigger goals, year-end totals and quotas, with the more important means of process to get there.
7. Think about the daily small victories, or solutions, in your personal and professional life. Be mindful of what you commit to.
8. Recognize that the leader is the driver, therefore delegation in this plan for success becomes even more important. You as the leader have arrived; you are in the major leagues, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL. Your team aspires to move up and with increased self-confidence, they can. Their victories along the way will accelerate both their personal growth and that of the company.
9. Nobody ever said that winning is easy. It’s hard. Developing new habits and attitudes never happens overnight. A leader has to be thinking about the top of the mountain as a goal but the strategy to get there is even more important. Do you remember Al Pacino’s football coach in Any Given Sunday – talking about ‘inch by inch?’ That’s the model we are talking about.
10. If success isn’t easy, focus is even harder. Relentless solution focus is even harder than that – the most difficult but rewarding path to business success. We all owe it to ourselves as leaders, myself included, to dig deep and be relentless, to attack and never give up. There isn’t an in between.
In this leadership scenario, process is everything, and RSF is nothing less than a process that teams need to adopt every day. In thinking small with RSF, you can achieve large, and enjoy better health – and that’s the secret to leadership success.
Leon Goren (@LeonGoren) is president and chief executive officer of Presidents of Enterprising Organizations, a leadership training organization.
This article was originally published in The Globe and Mail.