[May 30, 2018] In a fast-paced society everyone is looking to save time and money. We are all interested when someone comes up with a “hack” or shortcut to save us that little extra effort. But, leaders have learned over the history of humankind, that there are no shortcuts to leadership.
Someone once likened leadership to herding cats.1 Leadership is a difficult activity, involves many different skills and talents, and the outcome is often uncertain. One thing we do know about leadership is that it is difficult and it doesn’t come naturally.
“If you take shortcuts, you get cut short.” – Gary Busey, American actor
Like success, there is no shortcut to leadership in any profession or personal relationship. Building trust and confidence in others is a task that should never be taken lightly and it takes time and effort. I was not successful when I first went to college. My grades as an engineering student were pretty pathetic. The reason was that I lacked the discipline to study and do it wisely.
There is no way around the fact that it takes hard work to be a good leader. There are never any shortcuts and anyone saying otherwise is simply wrong. This is a common but incorrect view of leadership because the risks associated with shortcuts are overlooked. It is the hard work that makes risk-taking possible. You cannot have one without the other.
If you put in this kind of hard work and take calculated risks, your chances of being a good leader are greatly improved. I learned from the shame I felt in making poor grades that something had to be done to improve my chances of success in college. This meant setting my priorities right and intensely focusing on my “job” as a student. Missing a class was never an option and putting off studying or failing to work on assigned projects was never going to happen again.
Leadership is like that. You can’t hack leadership. Maybe it’s just an old-fashioned idea that is impervious to change. Or, maybe leadership is something that is intangible. Actually, I don’t think so but others have made this argument to why there are no shortcuts.
Successful leaders know that only through discipline can a leader accomplish tasks and missions worth doing. They know that shortcuts create unreasonable risks that should never be taken. And, great leaders know that hard work and good character is at the center of leadership that works.
- A similar phrase, allegedly of Irish origins, is “Minding mice at a crossroads”.