What You Need to Do to Avoid Mediocrity in Leadership

We have just endured a tedious few weeks of electioneering to face the near future of a mediocre government here in Australia.

Again – I am apolitical in my articles. However I am a passionately keen student of leaders and leadership behaviours.

Last year when I predicted on ABC Radio that Tony Abbott would be the next leader of the Liberal Party I listed 3 basic elements a leader MUST have. At that time my view was that of all the contenders available Tony Abbott was the only one who showed these 3 elements.

Obviously there are many many more elements to being a great leader. These are the 3 basics, in my observations.

Both party leaders in this election – Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott – have ignored these 3 basic Leadership elements resulting in the potential of a hung parliament in Australia.

The First Thing You Need to Do to Avoid in Mediocrity in Leadership – Have a Vision.

If you don’t know where you are going – how can you expect anyone to follow you?

A couple of years ago, I spoke at a Women in Government conference in Sydney. I asked for a show of hands from the audience on who know what the incoming American President stood for – I got a chorus in reply. On the other side of the planet these women knew what Obamas vision was. I then asked what the new Australian Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd) had as a vision, there were some murmurings and mutterings, a few could tell me. So I asked what the outgoing Prime Minsters vision was (John Howard) only one hand went up in the whole crowded room of Public Sector employees.

The hand belonged to a Liberal Senator.
No one else knew the Vision of the defeated leader.

The same lesson applies in the recent election. We are in a vision vacuum.

As leaders of ourselves, our families, and in organisations the lesson is clear. Have a vision for the future and people will follow you.
What is your vision?
To avoid mediocrity in leadership have a clear vision of where you’re going.

The Second Thing You Need to Do to Avoid Mediocrity in Leadership – Know & State What You Stand For.

Just as your vision is where you are heading. What you stand for is how you are going to get there.
In other words what are your values?

When you can stand in front of the mirror and look that person in the mirror in the eye then clearly state what you stand for – you are immediately taking a leadership role.
You are leading You!

When you stand in public, in front of your peers or reports and make the same statement with truth and integrity then you begin to have people follow you.

If perchance you state what you stand for without truth or integrity then you will certainly get a following in the short term.
Our former Prime Minister said, “the greatest moral challenge facing this country is climate change” before he changed his mind. You can fool some of the people …

In this recent election all we saw was sniping and criticism from the two major parties and the two party leaders. There was a dearth of what either truly stood for.
We saw a lot of clichés and no substance.

To avoid mediocrity – Know and State what you stand for as a person and as a leader.

The Third Thing You Need to Do to Avoid Mediocrity in Leadership – Be Clear and Consistent in Your Message.

Taking a side example, I have (some) memories of being a teenage passenger in a Ford Escort with 6 others going nightclubbing in Ireland in the 1980’s. We had a bottle of vodka, a bottle of coke and enough glassware to get all of us warmed up for the evening. I am hazier on the journeys home at the end of the evenings.

Today I wouldn’t dream of being an overcrowded car or with a drunk driver or with no seatbelts. Why?
Apart from a heightened sense of my own mortality and the maturity which is the upside of age. There has been a clear and consistent message down the years that if you drink and drive you are an idiot.
Over time that clear simple and constant message has resonated with generations of drivers and behaviours have subsequently changed. Outstanding leadership in the area of safe driving has created a following of safe drivers.

By contrast the recent elections were full of attack messages. One leader briefly ran a “moving forward” slogan but dropped it after being made fun of.
Apart from that short-lived foray there was no clear and consistent message of what either leader or either party stood for or what their vision was. They were too busy attacking each other.

Our cup overflows with mediocrity as a result.

As a personal, family or business leader when you consistently and repeatedly state what your vision is – where you are going, and what you stand for -what your values are – then I can guarantee you will be mocked and made fun of.

This is great news.

If you are being made fun of – don’t quit. Being mocked is a sign that your message is beginning to filter through the multitude of other messages that we are being bombarded with. Your message is sticking.

So keep going. Unswervingly repeat your vision and your message. Do Not quit.

To avoid mediocrity in leadership repeat a clear and consistent vision of where you are going and what you stand for – beyond the point where you are being made fun of.

Do having these 3 elements in place these mean you will be a good leader? No, of course not.
These mean you get to first base to Be A Leader.

Being effective in your leadership takes other skills outside of this article. However you can’t be effective as a leader if you aren’t in a leadership position first.

Liz Cassidy, founder of Third Sigma in Brisbane specialises in Executive Behavioural Coaching, transforming Problem Managers into Inspirational Leaders.

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