Leadership and consistency – The 200 words project

Essayists like Ralph Waldo Emerson who shaped the 19th century view on leadership defined it around heroic consistency of message – no matter what the evidence. So, political campaigns are now lost the moment a candidate switches views on a topic. While political candidates are often guilty of changing views based on when it suits them, we also end up punishing those who’re changing it because of better data.

The greatest leaders, however, have always been incredibly persuadable.

Abraham Lincoln, for example, was a notorious flip flopper who changed his views on the civil rights movement as new data presented itself. Sadly, the 2012 “Lincoln” movie made no mention of this inconsistencies –Pulitzer Prize winning historian Eric Foner lamented the absence of his hallmark of greatness – his capacity for change and growth. Even black scholar and activist W E B De Bois, who was often critical of Lincoln, admired his always critical and flexible brand of leadership.

As Jeff Bezos says – people who were right a lot of their time were often people who changed their mind. Perhaps we should revisit our responses when we see our leaders change their point of view based on sound evidence?

Abraham Lincoln is the greatest figure of the 19th century. He was to be admired not because he was perfect but because he was not and yet he triumphed. Out of his contradictions and inconsistencies, he fought his way to the pinnacles. And his fight was within as well as without. – W.E.B De Bois

leadership, consistency, change, flexible


Source and thanks to: Persuadable by Al Pitampalli

“The techniques we use are no big secret…

…it’s just about making an effort and repeating the same thing every day.” | Yoshikazu, Sukiyabashi Jiro from Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Information isn’t wealth any more. Sure, there still are patented techniques that are probably the modern day equivalent to “the secret sauce.” But, if we dig deeper, I think we’d find that the secret sauce, like nostalgia :), isn’t what it used to be.

Google isn’t just the best search engine because of its ground breaking page rank algorithm. It is the best because it didn’t use that innovation and head-start to sit back and relax. Google has been running experiments on how to tweak the algorithm ever since at ground-breaking speed using data from user behavior for 15 straight years, week after week. They make the effort. It shows.

Yes, being the first mover is an advantage. Billy Beane did that with the Oakland A’s focus on using statistics to build teams around groups of players rather than look for star players. However, other baseball franchises caught up with his methods soon enough. So, Billy Beane began focusing on the college players draft as he felt inefficiencies lay there. Soon, the other franchises will catch up there too. If Beane is to continue having the sort of impact he’s had on the game, he will have to continue making the effort to find inefficiencies every day.

Why doesn’t everyone do it? Because it is hard, complicated, and not guaranteed to work. It involves accepting that you simply don’t know enough and that your current way is probably woefully inefficient.

So, if you are still intent on finding a secret sauce, I’d suggest looking hard to Sukiyabashi Jiro, Google, and Billy Beane. The techniques they use are no big secret. But, their genius lies in their consistency of effort.

Show up on time, look for what’s hard, complicated, and not guaranteed to work…. and ship. Then, do it again tomorrow.

The novelty of “new” disappears pretty quickly

This is a line I repeat to myself every time I get started on a new project, initiative, or a relationship of any sort. The novelty of new disappears quickly.

To thrive in the long term, we just better be consistently good. As A G Lafley of P&G said, “get good or get out.”

Yes, it is going to be hard and yes, there are going to be many trials along the way.  But, you know what? Nobody cares. You either deliver or you don’t. The hero and the coward feel the same things. They just respond differently.

We are what we  repeatedly do. And delivering on our commitments consistently is not an act, but a habit.