“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
~ Michael Jordan
It’s hard to believe that these words were spoken by arguably the best basketball player who ever lived. If we search history however, we’ll quickly find a plethora of leaders who failed, in major ways, and went on to incredible successes. Rowland Hussey Macy opened four retail dry goods stores and all failed. He learned from those failures and went on to open his next store, Macy’s in New York City. It’s said Thomas Edison failed over 10,000 times before successfully creating the light bulb. He was later quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
There’s no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.
Being someone who works with businesses and organizations in the development of strategic plans, I know all too well the importance of sound and strategic development. However, the creation of the plan, and the elements of the plan are secondary to one thing. There is one piece that is responsible for the failing of more well-thought-out and carefully-crafted strategic initiatives than any other. What is that one thing? Execution.
Whenever I ask someone, “What’s the biggest challenge your organization is facing?”, one of the top three answers is always something like, “We simply can’t get our people to change.” Change has long been the thorn in the side of many groups. The truth is, people just don’t like change. It’s true. And that includes you and I. Sure, we’re all for change when it’s our idea, but when it’s not… well, change doesn’t seem so appealing then.
If you’re tasked with leading anything, there is no doubt that you will experience, at least from time to time, what I like to call “energy lag.” If you’re like most of us, these low energy periods come more than occasionally. As I’m sure you know by now, this is a problem.
There is no shortage of information available on the topic of leadership. Google the word leadership and Google tells you there are “about 401,000,000 results.” If you type the same word into the search box on Amazon’s web page it returns just over 104,000 results. I’m often asked, when I speak or teach on the subject of leadership, “What is the single most important tool a leader should have in his toolbox?”
Now, you might think, with all of the information available on leadership, it would be impossible to narrow it down to a “single most important tool,” but, the truth is it’s not hard. There is a single most important tool – a tool that you must have – if you want to be a successful leader. What is that tool? Communication.