Earlier this week I wrote about the 5 Traits of Effective Leaders that I have observed and embraced during my nearly three decades of military and business experience. This post takes a closer look at what it takes to add zeal to your life in the tireless and diligent pursuit of your goals.
Zeal, the enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal is an often overlooked trait that can make the difference in being an effective leader. Leaders bring energy, cause, purpose and passion to the things that that they are charged with. However, leaders with zeal work much like the queen bee, inspiring other bees to go out and pollenate the flower of the enterprise to bloom in ways they never thought possible.
How do leaders obtain zeal? Like leadership itself, I don’t think people are born with zeal. However, can it be developed? The Reverend PJ Smyth has examined the quest for nurturing and maintaining red-hot zeal for God. I have adopted Pastor Smyth’s ideas in this secular view of developing zeal.
1. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
Leaders have to spend time in the day to day trenches of getting things done. Despite the all-consuming nature of the battle, the leader with zeal finds time to think about what do when the troops are out of the foxhole. Thinking about tomorrow is the ultimate stoker of zeal and, in fact, without it, leaders run the risk of developing zeal only for the current battle without a vision to win or even better avoid the next battle.
2. Embrace Risky Business
Leadership presupposes forward motion, not just managing the status quo. Here’s the math: no risk taking, no forward motion. The zeal that we unleash to achieve the risk taken can bring goodness in a whole new way for our business, our causes, and ourselves. The movie Lincoln portrayed the leadership zeal the President displayed in the risks he took to save the Union. His courageous risks in conducting the Civil War and freeing the slaves paved the way for a more united United States of America.
3. Learn from the agony of defeat
Relentless zeal is produced through tough times. Kevin Ware the University of Louisville basketball player suffered a horrific injury witnessed by millions on national television. In unbearable pain, as he was wheeled off the court on a stretcher, Kevin could be heard saying to his teammates, “Win the game! … Win the game! … Win the game!” His zeal for victory during his personal “agony of defeat” inspired the nation and powered the zeal of his Louisville Cardinals teammates to win the Division I Men’s Basketball crown.
The Bottom Line: The zeal of your lovely light
My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends It gives a lovely light.” Edna St. Vincent Millay The zeal that we bring to our endowers will make up for the misguided effort to burn the candle at both ends. Leaders with zeal can spread the lovely light of their devotion for the cause; which can make all the difference in the sometimes difficult world of making things happen.