I have been speaking for twenty plus years on the importance of attitude in a leadership position and in 2013 published a book on this topic, Attitude – The Cornerstone of Leadership. I use the word, ATTITUDE, as an acronym and give each letter of the word a characteristic that might make for a quality leader. I’d like to give you a synthesis of the acronym and see what you think.
The A stands for attitude and asks the question does one person’s attitude make a difference? The attitudes of Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson made a difference as did the attitudes of Winston Churchill and Jackie Robinson. Therefore, it is important to note that a leader’s individual attitude can enhance an organization or detract from or even destroy an organization.
Teamwork is the T and teamwork definitively is the essence of athletics, but it transcends athletics. Bishop Roger Kaffer had this sign on his desk, “None of us is smarter than all of us” when he was the principal of Providence High School. He led by this maxim. He knew he had to make the final decisions but sought out the opinions of everyone on his cabinet so he could make the best decisions.
The second T is toughness. Once I ask audiences to think of the best teacher or coach they ever had, I then ask if that person was easy or demanding and tough. No hands are raised on easy but everyone’s hand goes up on tough. Leaders must be tough and if their toughness becomes an attribute of those whom they lead, then the leaders have given their people a great gift. The Reverend Robert Schuller confirms this in his outstanding book, Tough Times Don’t Last But Tough People Do.
The I represents Intelligence and I have seen two traits in the intelligent people whom I have worked with – a great ability to listen and perseverance to their core values.
The third T stands for Thank You. I once heard an historian state that neither the wealth of America nor the big-name politicians built this country, but the “nobodies,” the common man, did. How important is it for leaders to thank those in their organizations who receive little or no recognition?
The letter U is for the word, You. The only person who can make you learn or achieve is you. I believe we are making too many excuses today. We have to get back to telling people that YOU are responsible for YOUR body of work, no one but YOU.
D is Determination. I think any work of excellence, any achievement, is the work of people of determination. Most accomplishments have to overcome failure and this can only be done by determined people. As Pat Riley wrote, “Success is getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down.”
E is for Effort. I used to think effort was the key to success in athletics, academics, or any endeavor. I no longer believe that because I have seen too many people who can give a great effort from Monday through Wednesday but cannot find that same effort from Thursday through Saturday. So, I came to the conclusion that effort is not enough; success demands Consistency of Effort.
I hope this synthesis of the book and the presentation I give makes you reflect on your leadership role.