Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Working to Become a Leader

If you study the path of any (credible!) leader, their story is not one of “overnight” success. Most started from humble beginnings. Many had little more than the rest of us. Some would have been characterized as the least likely to succeed. A few had breaks or fortunate circumstances along the way, but the core of their journey consisted of hard work, perseverance, and a drive to work when most others were idle. None of their victories came without a struggle.

In their book Launching a Leadership Revolution, authors Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady outline the Five Levels of Influence.

- Learning
- Performing
- Leading
- Developing Leaders
- Developing Developers of Leaders

This is the playing field of leadership development, much like a flight of ascending stairs. As a leader progresses through each step of the process, his or her influence increases and the impact of their efforts have a broader scope. Each step builds on the prior step. None of them can be skipped.  That said, learning must precede performing, and performing must be accomplished prior to gaining the influence to lead.

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell submits that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Mastery is what often launches most individuals to a position of influence, indeed to leadership. An investment of time and energy - to learn, to grow, and to perform - is always required.

Everyone has the same number of hours available. And everyone has the power to choose how to invest, spend, or even waste each hour. Each of the people highlighted in the article below were working from the same 24-hour clock. You will see that each invested their time in a way that developed mastery in their chosen field, and through that, influence and leadership. I would qualify that by saying it’s not about the number of hours you put in, but what you put into those hours. Leaving the rest of your life to waste in pursuit of success is a very dangerous road as well. Bottom line, though, if you are looking to succeed, lead, or both, how are you investing your time?

From People Who Worked Incredibly Hard to Succeed by Max Nisen (edited)

Successful people in every field are often said to be "blessed with talent" or even just lucky. But the truth is, many worked harder than the average person can even imagine.

From athletes like Michael Jordan to executives like Howard Schultz, these people are known for waking up early and working toward a goal while other people are still in bed, and staying later than everyone else too.

Old fashioned hard work. Anyone can do it. Let these people be an inspiration.

1. NBA legend Michael Jordan spent his off seasons taking hundreds of jump shots a day

Michael Jordan had prodigious physical gifts. But as his long-time coach Phil Jackson writes, it was hard work that made him a legend… In a piece at NBA.com, Jackson writes that Jordan's defining characteristic wasn't his talent, but having the humility to know he had to work constantly to be the best.  

2. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz continues to work from home even after putting in 13 hour days

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz must be a frequent consumer of his company's products to maintain his frenetic schedule. Since returning to turn around the company, he gets into the office by 6 in the morning and stays until 7. Schultz continues talking to overseas employees even later at night from home. He goes into the office on Sundays and reads emails from his thousands of employees on Saturdays.

3. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn't take a vacation for seven years while starting his first business

At first glance, the amazing success of Mavericks owner and entrepreneur Mark Cuban looks like a stroke of luck. He sold his first company at the peak of its value, and got into technology stocks at exactly the right time. Cuban writes on his blog that it took an incredible amount of work to benefit from his luck. When starting his first company, he routinely stayed up until two in the morning reading about new software, and went seven years without a vacation.

4. Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay's workouts are so intense, others can't make it halfway through them

Cy Young award winning pitcher Roy Halladay is one of the hardest working man in baseball. According to Sports Illustrated, he routinely puts in a 90 minute workout before his teammates make to the field. His former pitching coach told SI that when other pitchers attempted one of his workouts, none of them could complete half of it. His pre-game preparation is so intense that he had a personal entrance card to his former team's training facilities.

5. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt spent 24 years putting in hundred hour weeks

A 2005 Fortune article on GE CEO Immelt describes him as "The Bionic Manager". The article highlights his incredible work ethic, he worked 100 hour weeks for 24 years. Immelt strictly divides that time, devoting a specific portion of each day to deal with every part of his business. All of that comes after a 5:30 A.M. workout where he's already reading the papers and watching CNBC.

6. Apple CEO Tim Cook routinely begins emailing employees at 4:30 in the morning

Steve Jobs left incredibly big shoes for Tim Cook to fill. However, the man got the top job for a reason. He's always been a workaholic, Fortune reports that he begins sending emails at 4:30 in the morning. A profile in Gawker reveals that he's the first in the office and last to leave. He used to hold staff meetings on Sunday night in order to prepare for Monday.

7. American Idol host Ryan Seacrest hosts a radio show from 5 to 10 A.M. and runs a production company while appearing seven days a week on E!

Seacrest told the New York Times that even as a young child,  his goal was to be a “a classic iconic broadcaster". He's moved towards that goal by taking on a preposterous workload. In addition to hosting American Idol, Seacrest appears 7 days a week on E!, hosts a daily radio show from 5 to 10 A.M., appears on the Today show, runs a television production company, and recently received $300 million in private equity funding to acquire more businesses.

8. Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn flies more than 150,000 miles a year

Carlos Ghosn runs two of the world's largest automakers, which should tell you something about his work ethic. A profile in Forbes describes how Ghosn works more than 65 hours a week, spends 48 hours a month in the air, and flies more than 150,000 miles a year. His turnaround of Nissan is the subject of many case studies. Within a month he deployed a system that completely changed ingrained practices, helping save a company many thought irredeemable. 

9. Venus and Serena Williams were up hitting tennis balls at 6 A.M. from the time they were 7 and 8 years old

The Williams sisters, who have dominated women's tennis for many years, were all but raised on the court. From an extremely young age, their life was, as described to the New York Times "..get up, 6 o’clock in the morning, go to the tennis court, before school. After school, go to tennis..." The Williams family was built around propelling the two towards success in the sport.

10. Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant completely changed his shooting technique rather than stop playing after breaking a finger

Nobody in basketball drives their body harder than Kobe Bryant. A profile in GQ describes how he has changed his shooting technique repeatedly rather than take time for dislocated and broken fingers. When growing up outside of Philadelphia, ESPN describes how Kobe would spend his free time endlessly practicing jump shots in the park. The Laker's staff finds him doing the same thing at their practice facility at all hours of the day and night.

1 comment:

  1. Sir,i found this piece propelling and i must say a big thank you. I would drive myself to success by putting into practice the tips from each of the success stories,you shared. Emellet 100hours per week for 24years gave me an awakening that value given is value received.