This is an excerpt from The Core 4, by Brimstone’s Managing Founder, Bob Weiler. The book explores the foundational capabilities of any organization, from a small group to a global enterprise—leadership, change, alignment, and energy. These core drivers are critical to accelerating growth, performance, and profitability.
Commit to Leading
A common thread running through our experiences with many leaders is that— at some point—individuals must make an explicit commitment to being a leader.
They accept the mantle of leadership and all of the upside and downside that come with it. They commit to working at it, to owning their mistakes (because they will make mistakes), and to messing things up once in a while. They accept that while some people will end up not liking them, they will as least respect them. They commit to being constantly willing to learn, knowing that they will not become great leaders in just a day. They know that they will have great leadership moments, but they may have horrible leadership moments, possibly even in the same day or week. In short, they recognize that as a leader, sometimes they’ll be the solution, other times they’ll be the problem. Or both.
The best leaders we’ve worked with have realized that it’s important to learn to lead themselves before they lead others. How do they learn to lead themselves? They begin by understanding themselves—their strengths and weaknesses, quirks and inherent tendencies, personal history, all of it. While there is an entire industry built around personal growth and development, the bottom line is that knowing yourself generally means having the guts to take an honest look at yourself—examining your life (not just your business career) and learning from your past experiences. It’s not always easy, but the good leaders know it’s very important.
No person or leader is perfect—far from it. As the late, great poet Stanley Kunitz put it: “The best people I know are inadequate and unashamed.” Everyone has inadequacies, weaknesses, unaddressed issues, blind spots—places where the internal terrain is more like quicksand than solid ground. We are all inadequate, missing key skills, or still revisiting painful failures—from a broken marriage to a botched business plan. We all fail sometimes, and if you have not, then most likely you didn’t push hard enough.
Acknowledging these failures doesn’t necessarily mean taking a deep dive into psychoanalysis. But it does require doing some assessment of yourself and taking a hard look in the mirror—then being able to accept what you see. Great leaders we’ve worked with acknowledge their fallibility and mistakes. This honesty actually energizes most organizations because people come to the realization that like us, our leader isn’t perfect, so maybe I can lead.