The Power of Perseverance
Leaders achieve success through their talent, intelligence, flexibility and wisdom. Those who overcome the odds often point to an even more powerful trait: perseverance.
Many of today’s top captains of commerce believe it’s the key to winning the race—more important than skill, more vital than past experience, notes management consultant Steve Tobak in What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur? Perseverance (Entrepreneur.com, January 25, 2016).
But what about leaders who lack the necessary stamina? What happens to those who don’t know how they’re going to manage, day in and day out, under the heaviest of loads? Are they simply destined to fail in a cruel world?
The answer is no, according to Dr. Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Scribner, 2016). Perseverance can be developed from within. If you’re a leader who’s gained a foothold on stamina, you can forge a culture with it.
What Is Perseverance?
More than simply trying hard, perseverance is a gut-generated determination to not give in and never give up. Leaders with perseverance strive to excel. As Duckworth puts it, perseverance is a satisfaction with being unsatisfied. Dogged leaders continually measure how far they’re willing to push themselves and how much they want to win.
Do you find yourself frequently changing course midstream, altering your goals as you go? Are you prone to disillusionment when things go awry? Do you lose interest in long-term projects? If so, you may lack perseverance. Your organization may consequently lose money, people and direction when situations get tough.
Alternatively, persevering leaders grow their interests and remain focused on them. Their consistent pursuit of gains moves them through the roadblocks that stymie more passive leaders. When you persevere, you’re not as bothered by setbacks or letdowns. You’re motivated to embrace and overcome them.
There are myriad business success stories about leaders who had a persevering spirit and led their companies through crisis, bankruptcy or startup hardship. Steve Jobs and Lee Iacocca had the stamina to save Apple and Chrysler, respectively, from bankruptcy. Jeff Bezos endured the long startup struggle at Amazon. Dan Hesse led Sprint out of the gaping jaws of killer competitors. Not all stories are this dramatic, but the principles of perseverance equally apply. Every company faces trials that call for persevering leaders.
Which Leaders Persevere?
Persevering leaders have a significant impact, usually without commanding the limelight or fanfare. Their energy and attitude are distinct—sometimes refreshing, sometimes demanding:
The mature, seasoned leader is self-aware, diligent, and accountable. With wisdom, clarity and greater discernment, mature leaders recognize the need for perseverance, and act responsibly.
The leader who loves his/her work experiences greater curiosity, challenges self, and is likely to see many ideas take shape. They persevere through many attempts at achieving success, adjusting along the way.
The disciplined leader wants to continuously improve and develop a skill until mastered. Because giving up is unacceptable, they’ve learned to withstand defeats and persevere.
The purpose-driven leader experiences a calling for what they do to contribute to a larger purpose. Failure is part of learning, with no cause for fear. Perseverance is more attainable when setbacks have no effect on one’s calling.
The positive leader sees a benefit in each step taken, even when some are backward. They embrace challenges, confident that diligent effort pays off, and persevere through storms because they know there’s sunshine on the other side.
If you’re a leader who struggles with perseverance, you can adjust your mindset and behavior. Make the commitment and accept the challenge, mastering one small step at a time:
Harness wisdom – Reject any rapid-reward mentality, and be patient with long term projects. Look back over your career: note what worked and what didn’t. See how your worst fears were probably unjustified. Likewise, future setbacks won’t be fatal, and they offer an opportunity to learn and be better prepared.
Enjoy your work – Seek work that makes use of your interests and personality traits. Not every aspect of your job may be gratifying, but duties that align with your interests and values will fulfill you.
Develop discipline – Develop a contempt for complacency. Keep yourself accountable, perhaps with a trusted colleague who holds you to your tasks, to stay on course. Don’t let yourself give up.
Find your purpose – Explore your priorities and motivation; your purpose and focus. There’s purpose in adding value, making improvements and growing people. By deciding to be the best at something, you can have a calling with great purpose. Fuel your perseverance with this kind of thinking.
Be positive – Become more self-aware, and catch yourself having negative thoughts or moods. Try to determine why you have these feelings, and create positive alternatives. A seasoned leadership coach can be of great benefit. Coaching accentuates the positive and leans toward it. Focus on the ways a situation can work instead of getting mired in negatives.
Foster Perseverance in Others
The best way to help your people persevere is to model optimal behavior. Develop grit and build on it. Use your authority wisely to instill organizational toughness. Developing a culture of perseverance maximizes people’s strengths and pushes them to achieve peak performance. An authoritarian approach is unhelpful, while a coaching, encouraging manner is powerful. Grasp how your leadership style comes across, and adjust to your people’s needs.
Leaders make great strides by helping their people understand that success is an accumulation of many ordinary jobs done well. They push people out of their comfort zones, with challenging assignments and timely feedback. Letting staff devise solutions ultimately engages them.
Organizations become persevering machines that weather the strongest storms when leaders build relationships and foster a good work ethic.
Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist & Executive Coach
Trusted Leadership Advisor
- Executive Coaching
- Mindful Leadership
- Attorney Coaching
- Emotional Intelligence and Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) Workshops
For more information, please go to https://www.workingresources.com, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 415-546-1252
55 New Montgomery Street, Suite 505
San Francisco, California 94105