Leaders are the hardest of workers. In order to be truly great at something, you need to practice it. Gilbert Arenas, a shooting guard for the Washington Wizards, recently said that his key to success with his great jump shot was taking one thousand of them every single day over the off season. Working hard on the jump shot and never taking a day off is what makes him so good and so consistent. This work ethic is not something that everyone possesses. However, it is something that every good leader does possess.
One other characteristic of great leaders is the ability to work and perform under pressure. When the decision must be made or the game is on the line, a true leader is the person who is not scared to take the last shot or make the decision that the company is riding on. As my father used to tell me, you have to have ice in your veins when pressure comes. The ability to stay calm and collected and make the right move at the right time under immense amounts of pressure separates good leaders from great ones.
Further, no good leader can be afraid of failure. Leaders are people who understand that what they are doing is often risky. The good leaders are the ones who accept these risks and do everything in their power in order to overcome all of the odds. I think some of the best leaders are closing pitchers. With the game on the line and needing to be put away, they come in and are expected to finish it off. If they do finish the game, they have done what they were expected to do. If they blow the save, it is considered to be entirely their fault. There is a huge risk of failure, yet this is what closers thrive on. They love having the game in their hands and enjoy the pressure even though there is a huge risk of failure. Anyone would be able to be a great leader if they always knew what to expect or what was going to happen next. However, the leaders who take the big risks and work hard are often the ones who are remembered and come up with the big rewards in the end.
It is possible for everyone to become a leader in some sense at something. However there is a difference between being an average leader and being great. Not everyone was meant to be great and not everyone wants to be great. Some people are just happy with how things are. To me, the recipe for a truly great leader is someone who works extremely hard, isn’t afraid of failure, makes the decisions under pressure and has the mindset that they can always improve. This is what will take someone from a good leader to a truly great one.
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