2839884During the course of a career, people in management experience significant ups and downs, unless we are just mediocre across the board…not an optimal existence.

For most of us, we consistently work hard in order to: experience more growth spurts than career-damaging events; become more contributory than dependent; serve as a leadership example to the people around us, within our sphere of influence.

I have had the distinct pleasure to have witnessed and learned from, some significant leaders, and also from a few abysmally-poor ones.

Of note in nearly everyone’s career, however, are those unique occurrences where we have been, proverbially: at the right place, at the right time, with just the right mix of skills, information, and subsequent solution. Those are the things that “prod us to keep going,” instill confidence, serve as a real boost to career path (and to compensation growth)! Looking backwards, one can perceive those keystone events as having taken on a providential sort of aura, a unique-to-you set of circumstances, a combination of luck, karma, even supernatural elements.

Or do they really?

Once analyzed, the lead-up to such events indicates that each such incident has its specific root cause, trigger-points, factual cause-and-effect. Many times we miss the critical-path relationships that led us to operate so fortuitously the first time, and we don’t do the same things when the next such challenge or opportunity arises. Experience is still the best teacher, yet we can become lazy in our operations, departing from our own “best practices.”

One of the “big three” golfers (and I’m dating myself here), said something like, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” I suspect the same goes for leadership and management success. By the time we are well-entrenched in business or organizational success, some key traits have been developed. From my own experiences, and from those leaders I was privileged to have seen thus far, are these characteristics:

  • A natural curiosity to figure things out, coupled with a sense of skepticism.
  • Linked to that natural curiosity are the needs for: continuous learning and improvement.
  • A sense of right and wrong…to “do the right next thing”.
  • An ability to “connect the dots.”
  • Clear and distinct professionalism.

Aristotle, loosely translated: “we are what we repeatedly do.” (We may just have to do it more often.)