Highly respected leaders develop reputations for being able to execute in the midst of seemingly overwhelming odds.
They don’t become known as “great leaders” because they had easy assignments, unending resources, and complete support from everyone around them. They became known as great leaders because in spite of the difficulties, the scarce resources, and the opposition from others, they succeeded.
It will often be the case that the more important the issue, the more obstacles there will be to overcome. If you feel like you are in an important “against all odds” kind of struggle, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Expect negativity to increase with progress.
Just because you have a great dream doesn’t mean that some people won’t consider it a nightmare! Often their opposition becomes increasingly aggressive and hostile. There are three levels of negativity:
- Hostile Actions
Leaders sometimes complain that resistance doesn’t decline in spite of the good that is being done. Don’t be surprised if it escalates. That may just be a positive sign—not a negative one.
- Maintain balance between conquering new ground and preserving the gains.
It doesn’t matter how many new horizons you conquer if you are losing ground that you previously conquered. Great leaders develop plans that not only allow them to make progress, but they also develop systems that will preserve the positive changes that have been made. This requires balancing resources. It may mean that some of your best people have to concentrate on preservation. It may mean that your timetable has to be slowed down so that you can give things (and people) time to adjust. The truth is that if it’s really important, it’s probably a marathon—not a sprint—and if it’s not that important, you probably shouldn’t be focusing on it anyway.
- Help people feel like a part of something bigger than themselves.
The camaraderie that people feel with their colleagues is one of the most important parts of developing a great team. People are more likely to sacrifice, remain loyal, and give their very best when they feel a special bond with each other. It may take time, and it certainly isn’t something that you can manipulate. However, you can nurture an environment where people feel connected. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a Harvard Professor, says that introducing people to one another is the most radical thing we can do. Relationships become the glue that keeps great teams moving toward achieving great goals.
- Take care of the people taking care of you.
That seems simple enough, right? People who sacrifice for great causes should be rewarded through fair pay and appropriate amounts of time away. Don’t use people up. Strive to make sure that those who have sacrificed to help your goal become a reality are rewarded generously. They become your spokesmen, your brain trust, and your legacy. Leaders are not just judged by what they accomplished. Leaders are not just remembered for what they accomplished. They are equally remembered for how they treated the people who helped them do it.