Whether you’re on Google and press “I’m feeling lucky”, or feel your promotion was based on luck, or just giggle when someone asks if you “got lucky” and they’re NOT talking about THAT, luck is not a concept often applied to leadership. Few leaders have reported to me their promotion was based on luck. They didn’t thrive through that merger because they got lucky. Leaders don’t build high performing teams because everyone ate their Lucky Charms that quarter. Yet, for many the illusion of leadership and positions of leadership, is that one happened to be in the right place at the right time. How do you think they got there? By accident? Happenstance? Good judgment? Good timing? Maybe it’s all four, but can you orchestrate your good fortune? Can you coordinate the efforts and opportunities to such a degree that you experience being lucky as a leader more often? Yes, I believe you can and here are a few ideas on just how to make that happen.
In two great consulting meetings last week, many times each of us mentioned how much we loved when things like this happened. There were synergies abound and coincidences that were too many to mention. But do you know how they happened and why we noticed? We were paying attention. We each, individually, paid attention to the opportunity of the meeting. We paid attention to how we felt when we each said yes to booking the meeting on our calendars. We paid attention to what the other person was saying in the meeting and then chimed with our own contributions at the same time. Exceptional leaders who are effective, engage large numbers of employees, make a name for themselves, and develop future leaders to follow in their stead, pay attention to the opportunities to do so. They listen. They observe. They contribute. They choose where to spend their energy and realize the power of their thoughts, actions, beliefs, and behaviors. A great leader’s outcomes, that may be labeled as lucky by others, are often merely the end result of days, weeks, months, years, or decades of paying attention to the opportunities presented to them on a regular basis to take action on their desired direction. Then again, that also means they had a clear direction.
Pick a Direction
In a recent webinar, I taught new managers how to get crystal clear on the attributes and skills of their ideal candidate or new hire for a vacant role. I told them without clarity it would be hard to spot the right candidate for the right job in an interview, comparing the lack of clarity to the old adage “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”. The same applies to a leader’s direction for themselves and their own career, and for the team. Pick a lane. Determine a direction. Get clear and even more simply, figure out what you want. Those lucky leaders you see who have achieved the level of success or title you desire, began with clarity around what they wanted …and didn’t want. It’s awfully darn difficult to choose the right opportunities out of many choices a minute, if you have no criteria on which to base a yes or no decision. Should you spend time to develop that employee? Well, ultimately, what do you want to be known for? What do you want your relationship with employees to be? What kind of leader do you want to be? Determine the direction in which you’re headed and then staying on track becomes a much easier task. Of course, it does require then a bit of focus.
No leader telling you the truth will ever say they’ve never been distracted or thrown off track. The something shiny syndrome is not just for those more abstract minded personalities. It happens to all of us. Welcome to the digital age in which appointments can be scheduled while driving on our smart phone, followed only by a call that makes us miss our exit for that all important meeting. But, we’re talking about how to be lucky, right? It’s been said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Luck is also likely part preparation, part perspiration and part seizing opportunities, but with so many coming at you, how do you choose? The key is choosing to focus. Leaders choose to focus on that desired direction. Leaders pay attention to the chances to seize those opportunities. Leaders choose to graciously decline those choices that will take them off track.
Seeing the fruits of your labor may look like you’ve gotten lucky. You know better. The way you become a lucky leader is through taking action on those opportunities that line up with your desired direction and paying attention to the next one and the next one and the next one. It then becomes a contagious cycle that catches on and from which your efforts spread and build momentum. Perhaps the best place to start if you wish to ignite your luck as a leader is determining the direction in which you’d like to lead those actions and where you wish to go. Then get going! Feeling lucky?