I consider myself an unlucky person (most of the time)… if there was a drawing with two names, I would not be drawn. If I waited in line for something that was limited, the person before me would get the last one. Some people on the other hand always seem to be in the right place at the right time – if they are running late every light will miraculously be green on the way to their destination or in line at airport security and they get sent to the priority line with no status just to speed things up.
Luck in leadership is similar. A select few seem to have it and some do not. Some psychologists say that simply believing in luck can be useful in coping with unplanned events. Lucky people, or even those who believe in luck are more likely to notice, create, and act on opportunities because they are more optimistic when things are beyond their control and use their gut to make decisions rather than overthinking with their head or even heart. [Those of us that are those overthinkers should read that again!] Pretty crazy to think that simply being more optimistic about things beyond our control can make us more likely to notice, create, and act on opportunities. Even writing this, I wonder how I can get myself to stop analyzing all the what-ifs and hesitation that comes when a risk is in front of me.
I want to be clear; luck is not the only factor in career success, nor is it something I recommend you rely heavily on in leadership. More defining factors like talent, skills, and hard work seem to get you just as far, just with a different or longer path. I like to think there are benefits to “overthinking” like seeing all the possibilities so I can acknowledge which will work or where there might be hurdles. Taking a step back to see the bigger picture and then zooming in for the details is one way to be a leader with a vision without being “lucky.”
Leaders are expected to have a clear vision they can articulate to others and get them onboard and engaged with. Behind the scenes the leaders also may need to do some pre-work on the vision to make sure it is realistic and achievable with the team that is in place. Without this vision there is no direction or “thing” to set goals around. With the vision there then needs to be an action plan to make sure all the steps are completed to work towards achievement of the vision. A part of completing steps to achieve the vision is accountability, meaning who is taking on the action and when should it be achieved by.
Consider a time when you were either the leader with a vision or had a leader with a vision. What was the process like to work towards the vision? What were people feeling or the things you noticed? Probably was pretty exciting to be a part of!
Now take a moment and consider a time when you or the leader seemed to be “winging it” or relying on luck to make their way through something because they were not prepared. What was happening in the conversation? How were people engaging? Probably felt quite different…people may have started to lack confidence in that person or question their authority and leadership because of the lack of preparation or lack of knowledge on the topic.
What kind of leader will you be? One that relies on luck or one that has talent, skills, and puts in the work?
Remember, sometimes people do get lucky and find a path to leadership that others have missed but one day their true colors will shine. Do not be discouraged and continue to do what you know to do to be the best leader you can be with the tools you know work for you.
On a side note:
The last paragraph got me thinking about the song True Colors from Trolls. The songs message is inspiration and motivation to be you and know that others will have your back, so know being the hardest working leader or having a certain skill set is a positive thing that others will be on board with. Additionally, consider the song Lucky by Britney Spears and the message it sends about being lucky, perhaps having it all and how that can impact a person in a completely different way.