Gut Check: Are You All In As A Leader?

July 23, 2014 Vince Molinaro
Gut Check: Are You All In As A Leader?

The FIFA World Cup is one of the world’s most compelling sports spectacles. Even its major sponsors are compelling.

Adidas, one of the most recognizable brands in international football, has devised an emotional campaign built around a single, powerful slogan: All In or Nothing.

The slogan is often framed as a challenge. “Make a choice,” the original television spot demands at its conclusion. It shows two buttons – ‘all in’ and ‘nothing.’

It’s a pretty simple message: if you want to achieve your goals, you need to be fully committed – that there are no half measures. And perhaps most importantly, the alternative to a full-out commitment is nothing.

I was instantly attracted to this campaign because like world-class soccer players, leaders are often faced with a similar challenge. They need to decide whether or not they are ‘all in’ as a leader.

Unfortunately, too many leaders stop well short of ‘all in.’ They accept leadership positions, but don’t fully commit to the job. They don’t live up to the obligations that come with being a leader. They don’t demonstrate the resolve to do the hard work to advance their companies.

So, what does it mean to be ‘all in’ as a leader?

First off, it means defining who you are. Many leaders I work with see a leadership role as just that – a role they play. They take the pay bump, the office and the title but never really put in the effort to lead. Real leadership requires a deep personal commitment; you need to live it and breathe it every moment of every day.

Second, ‘all in’ means putting aside your technical expertise to make the leadership job number one. Far too many leaders define themselves as engineers, accountants or sales representatives even after they have accepted a leadership position. These leaders think of ‘leadership’ responsibilities as something that takes a back seat to their expertise - being ‘all in’ means showing up every day as a leader, not as a technical expert.

Finally, being ‘all in’ means accepting the responsibilities of leadership regardless of the market conditions, the state of the overall economy or the specific challenges faced by your organization?

Here’s a simple question that will test your resolve to lead, regardless of outside factors: do you see this as the best or worst time to be a leader in your industry? If you think it’s the worst time you won’t be successful. You’ll use difficult circumstances as an excuse for not succeeding.

If you truly believe that anytime is the best time to be a leader, you’ll show up every day with a level of commitment, positive energy and momentum that will propel you and your people forward.

Last point: there is no dishonour in choosing the ‘nothing’ button. If you honestly cannot be ‘all in’ as a leader, you must have the courage to pick nothing and acknowledge that “leadership isn’t for me” or “I don’t have it in me any longer.” You’ll be doing everyone a favour if you focus on finding another way to add value in your organization.

This week’s gut check question asks: are you all in as a leader?

Follow me @VinceMolinaro

About the Author

Vince Molinaro

Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.

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