Sustaining Leadership

By | January 2, 2019

[January 2, 2019]  It’s difficult enough to be a leader each day, but every person must also be involved in sustaining leadership.  The trick is to be motivated and stay effective.  A good friend of mine said many times that the daily grind of leadership is difficult and is what sets apart the good from the great.

“Getting an audience is hard.  Sustaining an audience is hard.  It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” – Bruce Springsteen, American singer, songwriter, leader (find him on Tweeter here)

Bruce Springsteen could just have been talking about leadership as it was of maintaining his musical greatness throughout four decades.  He is one of the most famous singers, composers, and leaders of our generation.  Bruce “the boss” Springsteen understands that enthusiasm is the sustaining power of all great action.

Sustaining leadership is not a new topic or one that has been outdated by current events.  It means for all leaders to remain motivated and effective.  But it also means learning how to keep it going tomorrow and perpetually.  Here are a few ways to sustain your leadership:

  1. Have a grand vision and a strategy to achieve it. Sometimes the going gets tough.  Leaders who have established a direction for their organization have the advantage of others who are there to support the leader.  Each one has the back of the other because they are working toward a common goal.
  2. Know what’s necessary to win. Whether it’s a winning sports team, family, business, or community, knowing what’s important to them allows a leader to focus on what needs to be done to obtain it.
  3. Keep learning from the past. The successes and failures of others provide a leader with both the drive/energy/motivation and knowledge to succeed in times of normalcy or emergency.
  4. Create allies and networks. No leader can do it alone.  The greatest leaders of all times were able to bring together radically different peoples to achieve a common goal.  It required tremendous social-intellectual skills to convince others that they should ‘want’ to support that goal.

Sustaining leadership is not easy.  That is why when we see great leaders, it is obvious to everyone.  Those leaders have discovered the secret of great leadership over time is not bound by money, popularity, or luck but by hard work and reliance on inner motivation.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Sustaining Leadership

  1. Kenny Foster

    Sustaining leadership through a commitment to others. Jesuits say “a man for all.” There is greatness here in that very idea.

  2. Bryan Lee

    We need to be able to engage everyone and raise the ceiling of standards higher until, at least, the point is reached whereby some will not succeed. That doesn’t mean that sustaining leadership means rejecting a group of people. The opposite is true. Leadership means inclusiveness but not in the way we read about it on social media today.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      Too bad that so many so-called leaders no longer believe this. Just look at our politicians in Washington DC.

  3. Dennis Mathes

    Good points in all the comments so far today. Wow, great stuff to read here and to know that the audience of Gen. Satterfield’s blog is so well educated (or maybe the word is ‘focused’).

  4. Drew Dill

    I’m sad to say that I believe too that the state of formal education in the Western world generally and in the UK and US specifically is on a downward spiral. We can have all the great words in the universe, but nothing I see right now is preventing a crashing moment that will certainly occur in the next decades. What that will be is unknown to us all, but I see the two-year colleges failing first.

  5. Eddie Ray Anderson,

    Collaboration has the power to raise the ceiling of learning in all fields. I would hope we embrace ‘teamwork’ as we move forward in the 21st century.

  6. Greg Heyman

    There is a never-ending search for positive changes that endure.
    Good article and thanks. I would like to add that when it comes to schools, of which I have some experience, there is a great struggle ongoing that pits classical education up against a set of liberal ideological concepts of no fundamental truths or facts. How this will play out over the near future is unknown to us all. Its outcome is, however, important to each one of us.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Making decisions about practice, performance, and outcomes will require practicing leaders to work together and learn together in new ways.

    2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      If leadership is to be relevant and effective, then leaders must set standards of excellence, communicate them, show the way, motivate others, and ensure those standards are met. That is the new challenge of the future.

  7. Anita

    Dr. Maurice J. Elias, a professor in the Dept of Psychology at Rutgers Univ, noted that “Both healthy implementation and healthy sustainability are vitally important to the continuity of interventions for children [in an educational environment].” This applies to all leader issues.

  8. Fred Weber

    Because all change and improvement depend upon training, thinking, and coaching, the professional leader must provide the environment in which other leaders set about intentionally learning to increase their effectiveness. Otherwise, we fail.

  9. Max Foster

    Sustaining leadership is inextricably linked to inclusiveness and transformation to the perilously difficult task of bringing people together for a common cause. That ‘cause’ is defined by those in leadership positions and who are willing and capable of doing so. This is done through constancy of purpose; creating a common vision, communicating expectations, engaging all stakeholders, and focusing on what matters most.

  10. Nick Lighthouse

    I have learned that commitment to self-improvement is a predictor of success. I would also like to point out that the goal is not limited to maintenance but also includes ongoing development and improvement as a leader, as responsibilities and challenges change.

  11. Gil Johnson

    What’s the difference between a good leader and a great one? Good leaders get results, but great ones do so in a way that translates their positive energy into long-term motivations for the people who work for them.

  12. Georgie M.

    “In the future, it will not be the one big message, the one big voice, but millions of us, in our own way, healing, unifying, and experiencing that one defining moment when we recognize that sustaining the democracy is the common bottom line – whoever we are, whatever we do, wherever we are, the call is to sustain the democracy.” by Frances Hesselbein (President and CEO of Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute)

  13. Lady Hawk

    Thanks for a timely, educational article on what is required to sustain leadership over time.

  14. Eric Coda

    One of my favorite quotes of all time. “The ultimate test of practical leadership is the realization of intended, real change that meets people’s enduring needs” – James MacGregor Burns

  15. Army Captain

    Great article today, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks for helping to make my day.

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