We tend to think of good leadership in conjunction with smooth sailing. If you're smart and resourceful, and you build and nurture a good team and generate good ideas, what can go wrong? A lot.
Whether it's a failure of planning, a bad judgment call, or an accident of fate, trouble eventually comes to every leader. And that's when leadership really matters.
Here are the principles that can guide you through the next storm:
1. Positivity fuels productivity. Our reactions and moods are like a steering wheel that can move us in the right direction or take us further off course. You can choose to get caught up in the negativity of failure, or you can decide to do something positive about the situation. You always have a choice. Whatever the situation, positive energy can help you make the best of it.
2. There's no progress without action, and no action without risk. What failed yesterday could be a new chance tomorrow, and some of the greatest successes grew out of failures. But you will fail in 100 percent of the things you don't try.
3. Change is the only constant. Trust the power of change by staying flexible and adaptable. If things are not going well, make adjustments along the way. And when things go wrong, forego the quick fix. Instead, adjust your focus and concentrate on how you can do better. The power of a successful leader lies in evaluating the situation, learning from mistakes, shifting direction, and continuing to move forward.
4. Keep your eyes wide open. Leadership requires vision. If you're looking behind you, you're missing what's coming up; if you never focus clearly you'll miss important details. Keep your eyes straight ahead and focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.
5. Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. At the heart of successful leaders is a willingness to take risks, to leap into the abyss, a refusal to stay stuck in the status quo. The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure.
6. Be the driver. You can take responsibility, or you can blame others and lose all control. The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same. Accept the responsibility for your driving and keep your hands on the wheel.
7. Failure is necessary. You will never hear a successful person complain about the things they've failed at, because they know that failure is necessary in order to meet success. The best leaders, the most successful are willing to fail and learn along the way. Interpret each failure as a lesson on the road to success.
8. You can have results or excuses, but not both. What do you have to let go of? Who do you need to forgive? Who do you have to stop blaming? The only way to assure you'll do better next time is by making no excuses today. Often the only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself about why you can't achieve it.
9. Hold tight to your beliefs and values. Failure can sometimes make you feel like you have lost your footing, but there's always strength in the things you believe. How do successful people find the will to keep trying? Because they believe in what they're doing and they find a place within themselves where they know it is possible. You don't believe things because they make your life better; you believe them because you know they're true.
10. Persistence and determination prevail. Successful leaders know that persistence always wins. As Winston Churchill said, success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. Remember, a river cuts through rocks not because of its power at any given moment but because it has persistence over time.
Failure will come--that much is guaranteed. But successful leaders know that where you're standing at the moment isn't nearly as important as what direction you're moving in.