All of us can be leaders. It does not require any certain amount of talent or education. What does it take to become a great leader? No doubt one could list many components and qualities of a great leader, but there seems to be a pattern of qualities that emerge over and over again in great leaders. I call them the four P’s of leadership. They are: Perspective, Persistence, Patience, and Preparation.
Perspective – Life is always about perspective. At the end of the day, what matters is how a person views the circumstances in their life. One person views obstacles and another sees challenges or growth opportunities to overcome. The difference between an average leader and a great leader is the ability to control the one thing they can control and that is their own thinking and perspective. A great leader learns how to control their internal world in order to make a difference and affect the outside world.
Persistence – Calvin Coolidge said “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” This is a great quote and a great thought. Any great leader has become one because of persistence. Nothing of any significance happens by chance. A true leader perseveres and keeps on keeping on. As Churchill once said, “Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” Look at the life of Abraham Lincoln. Here was a man who failed as a businessman. He turned to politics and was defeated five times in his quest for a congressional seat and once in his race for Vice Presidency. His persistence paid off. In 1860, Lincoln became president of the United States. Lincoln’s persistence changed history!
Patience – A. Dumas Pere said that “all human wisdom is summed up in two words-wait and hope.” Patience is not only a virtue but an essential quality of a great leader. Being patient with yourself, with others and even the circumstances that you find yourself in allows you to get into a “solution” or “possibility” mode. When you are patient with the process, you have time for reflection, to ask and discuss and find solutions. Patience is the “stride” to life that keeps us from getting distracted or off course. When we allow ourselves to have an inner posture of patience, we are open to possibilities and even opportunities that would have never arisen if we jumped the gun or allowed our emotions to sidetrack or derail us.
Preparation – Remember the motto of the scouts? A good scout is always to be “prepared “for all kinds of emergencies. Bud Wilkinson once said, “The will to prepare is as important as the will to win.” That is an amazing statement! The difference between mediocrity and greatness lies in the arena of preparation. A prime example is the story of the pilot, Chesley Sullenberger who successfully landed U.S. flight #1549 into the Hudson River. In many ways, this man’s life prepared him for that moment. This hero says that he was only doing the job he was trained to do. Isn’t that what a great leader is? A great leader is a person that is not only well trained in their job but anticipates the curve balls of life and business. They know what to do in the middle of the storm because they have taken the time to prepare and be prepared.
What about you? Great leaders are not made overnight but with perspective, persistence, patience and preparation, the foundation is laid. Do you have the 4 P’s of leadership?