Why You Got Fired
In the last year I’ve spoken to four friends, all Sr. Executives or Managers, who got laid off or let go unexpectedly from their company.
I had worked with all four of these leaders and could testify to their competencies and skill sets as managers, team builders, and even executives. Still, I could not argue with the data: there was a reason they had all ended up on the short list.
In talking with them as we discussed ways to get them back on their feet quickly, I quickly learned why: all four of these now unemployed people, with diverse backgrounds and industries, had one very common and district trait that tied them together:
They all failed to make personal drills that develop their skills of Powerful Leadership a part of their daily routine.
Sure, they read books and worked hard. Yes, they worked long hours and pushed every day. These were not lazy people. But they all consistently failed to drill themselves at the one skill set essential to their position: Powerful Leadership and overtime they became complacent and mediocre. Sadly, they didn’t even realize it had happened.
Anyone who has attempted to compete in high school sports will understand, the vast majority of time of practice is spent going from one drill to another. In fact, one rarely actually plays full on game simulation until the very end. The same goes for learning a musical instrument, mastering a foreign language, and even becoming a chef. When an individual is choosing to take on a new skill, howbeit a sport like basketball or football, or an instrument like the piano or violin, or language like Mandarin Chinese or German, we learn one drill at a time and one day at a time. We drill ourselves constantly and never stop even when we become “fluent” or “masters” of the trade.
Why wouldn’t the same be said for Powerful Leadership?
What are Daily Powerful Leadership Drills?
Drill Number 1: Write down your daily goals every morning.
This is not a “to do” list nor is an “I want list.” This is an “I will list.” Powerful leaders act and live a certain way. Start your day by taking yourself and putting pen to paper what you are achieving.
Drill Number 2: Write down the hard questions AND answer them
What if you lost your top performer today, who would you respond?
What if you lost your biggest client, how would you plan it out?
What if your peer, the CMO, quit. How would you cover the gap and still drive the business?
Drill Number 3: Be grateful.
Who can you thank today? Write down what you are grateful for every day and send a note someone. Handwritten. Everyday.
These are only three drills and there are dozens more that can influence how you act and lead throughout your business.
To many leaders feel that because they found early success in their career, or because they read the latest bestseller on leadership from Amazon.com, they’ve got it all figured out. To be clear, a bookshelf full of dusty books does not make a great leader. I still remember in a previous life a CFO visiting my office once who regularly lied about his peer group (including me) and hurt our executive team (he was later let go). He went through my personal collection of books and commented how he had read them all and I thought “How is that possible when your behavior doesn’t reflect any of that?”
If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing every day.
It is interesting to note that executive coaching has shown to not produce as strong of performance with companies as many would like to believe. With that, I would suggest it is because there is not enough emphasis placed on creating daily habits and habits are formed from daily drills.
If you want to be a Powerful Leader, than start by drilling yourself to be one.