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Kevin Eikenberry

We all want to pay the mortgage, eat and live comfortably; but is money the only or most important reason we go to work? As a leader it is important to think about this question from two perspectives, so let’s do each of them now.

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I mean no disrespect here, but my bet is, based on my experience and observation, that you don’t completely finish your projects. The lack of completion comes on two levels. You give up before the finish line, and you put the finish line at the wrong place.

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The truth is there is probably as much training available on project management as there is on any leadership topic or skill I could ever write about here. Of course that doesn’t guarantee that we are all getting better at it. In fact, my observation is that even with all of that training, experience and knowledge, most organizations aren’t getting much better at delivering projects on time and on budget.

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Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As I watched the speech again several times to write that piece on communication, I was struck by another, perhaps less obvious lesson.

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It’s been a few weeks since I have mowed a lawn. When you have a soon to be college senior doing his internship but living at home, the job gets delegated. I was thinking this morning that I will be mowing again in the coming weeks — and how I go about mowing my lawn. If I don’t say so myself, I am an expert at mowing lawns — I’ve been pushing and riding lawnmowers since I was about 8 years old. I’ve mowed many different yards, and my yard in Indianapolis hundreds of times.

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Leadership Learning — two words that I believe belong together. My company blog is called Leadership and Learning with KevinWe call our business a Leadership Learning Consulting company. We train, coach and consult with leaders around the world. And in my bestselling book Remarkable Leadership, the first leadership competency I talk about is a Continual Learner. In my view, you can’t be an effective leader unless you are willing to be a continual learner. The work is too complex and too important to assume we ever have it figured out completely. The best leaders know this and act accordingly.

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39 years ago today, I, along with 60 other campers at Camp Brethren Heights in central Michigan, were ushered into a room with a small black and white television to watch history — President Richard Nixon was going to announce his resignation. At 12, I knew enough to know this was a historic event, but I certainly couldn’t grasp the reasons why the president had gotten to that point.

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Achievers who are at the highest level have several things in common. Today I want to talk about one of those traits — one that when practiced as a leader has a multiplier effect. Let me start with some examples.

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Last week, I wrote about some of the challenges that keep us from delegating important work to others (and why John Wayne was part of the problem). Once you get past these challenges, there is really good news … you are freed up to do what you were really hired to do. When you aren’t trying to “do it all,” when you have empowered and delegated successfully to others, you can do the more important work of leadership — work that won’t likely get done otherwise.

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John Wayne taught (well, perhaps reinforced) the myth of the single hero. But the Duke’s world was a world of scripts and make-believe. The fact is that the only way for you to succeed as a leader is to bust that myth. You can’t do it alone, not if you want to succeed at the highest levels.

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