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Real Leaders Don’t Complain

I can’t tell you how many times I am in a coaching session with someone, and I end up spending most of the time just listening to them complain. After a while, I have to stop everything and tell them this: The true leader in any organization is the person who doesn’t complain.

No truer words were ever spoken. You may be the appointed leader, the elected leader, or even the founder of an organization, but if you are a complainer, you will never be seen by the employees and other stakeholders as the real leader of the organization. Somewhere in the organization is the person who never complains. He or she will be viewed as the true leader of the organization. The problem is, as the CEO, that person SHOULD be you!

Suck It Up

People don’t like whiners and complainers. I’m sure you don’t either. So, if you are constantly whining or complaining about things, you can imagine how others feel about you. Samuel Johnson, the noted British author, once said: “The usual fortune of complaint is to excite contempt more than pity.” Who the heck wants to be looked at with contempt?

Think about all the famous leaders who are held up to us as examples, whether they are business leaders, military leaders, or political leaders. How many of them complained? How many of them were constantly whining about things? None, that I can recall. Now think about your own organization. Who are the people who never complain or never whine about things? Aren’t those the people you respect the most? They are the natural leaders within your organization.

Time Is Precious: Don’t Waste It Complaining

Complaining is an admission of failure. It is a negative energy that disrupts the smooth operation of the organization. It reflects on you and provides you with an image to others of a miserable, unhappy, and uninspiring person. And it wastes a lot of time…People who are busy complaining aren’t busy doing what they should be doing in their jobs. The late Congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm, once said: “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”

If you can honestly reflect on yourself, and see that you are a complainer, then you need to shift your attitude and become a doer instead. This is particularly true if you need to be a leader and inspire others. Moreover, look around your organization for the people who never complain. They are the aspiring leaders within your company, and you should keep your eye on them. They will be the people who will take your organization to the next level.

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Do Your Employees Hate To Lose More Than Love To Win?


Have you ever had an employee lose a sale, or a customer, or a negotiation, and say, “Well, I gave it my best shot.”? Although he would have enjoyed winning, he was more than willing to accept his loss because giving it his best effort was enough for him. Trust me, this guy is a loser. Everyone enjoys winning. I have never met a person who didn’t like to win, but some people are content to lose if they know they gave it their best shot. True winners – those that are highly competitive – won’t simply settle for winning. They can’t stand losing, and they will do anything rather than suffer a defeat. These highly competitive types tend to work harder, make greater sacrifices, put forth extra effort, and perform heroic actions. They are like athletes at the top of their game.

What Really Drives Athletes

When top athletes in their professions are surveyed, we find that winning isn’t what fuels their success, but instead, hating to lose is what drives them to compete at extraordinary levels. It’s no different in the corporate world. We need to staff our companies with employees who think and act like these top athletes. A culture of winning is fine, but just imagine what your company would be like if everyone there hated to lose. So you have to go beyond having a winning culture…you have to create a culture of people who hate to lose, and who would do anything rather than experience defeat. These are the people that will propel your organization to its next level of performance. When I coach CEOs about this, I make it a point to say that their company motto ought to be: “We Hate to Lose.” What else do you need to say? That’s pretty much it… Then you have to slowly weed out the people who are content to come in second, and bring in people who hate not being number one – in anything they do! These “hate to lose” people actually feel physical pain when they lose.

Creating A “Hate To Lose” Culture

A winning culture is fine for some companies, but a “hate to lose” culture will kick the crap out of that company every time. Take a good, hard mental look at your key employees, and you will know who is OK with losing, and who hates to lose. Over time, you need to build your organization around the “hate to lose” people, and get rid of the people who are OK with losing. Your culture will take a dramatic turn that will pay dividends going forward. To reinforce my point, take a look at these memorable quotes from some great athletes: – “I hate to lose more than I love to win.” (Jimmy Connors) – “I’m a competitive person. I hate to lose and competition is everything. When you lose you’re easily forgotten.” (Michael Jordan) – “Above anything else, I hate to lose.” (Jackie Robinson) – “If you’re going to play at all, you’re out to win. Baseball, board games, playing Jeopardy, I hate to lose.” (Derek Jeter) – “Boy, do I hate to lose.” (Peyton Manning)

How do you feel about losing? Are you a “hate to lose” CEO? And what about your company’s culture? How intensely do they hate to lose?

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Are You Being Seduced by Tools?

It is easy to be seduced by a tool that will solve your most pressing problems. We convince ourselves that weak sales, shrinking margins, inability to keep up with the competition, and more, can be solved with this software program or that new sales force management tool. “If I have that tool,” the CEO thinks, “I’ll have what I need to improve and gain an advantage.”

Except that such an all-powerful tool doesn’t exist. While you do need to evolve with technology, it is equally important to recognize that a tool is not a solution. Solutions come from people, and the most impressive, sophisticated, feature-rich tool is useless in the hands of someone who won’t leverage it. If I give a monkey a hammer, he’ll destroy my house. If I give a hammer to a master carpenter, he’ll build me a beautiful new home. The tool hasn’t changed, only the hands we put it in.

The main problem with tool seduction is that it means executives or managers are looking outside their organization for answers, rather than to their people. They are abdicating their own role in the problems that have developed, and potentially tolerating incompetence from their team. It is like people who are trying to lose weight, and instead of exercising or eating better, look for that miracle cure in a pill that will magically transform them.

True Solutions Take Work

The truth is, the right tools can help with all of this, but they don’t take the place of solid leadership. SharePoint, for instance, a web-based file-sharing program by Microsoft, offers a tremendous range of features. It allows users throughout an organization to access information, communicate, and manage data efficiently. It’s a tool. It is part of a solution. When leaders train their employees, who then share, edit documents, and publish content, the team can become more productive. But the program isn’t going to make that content any better! Only the workers can do that.

There’s an old saying, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” You can get all the tools you want; if you don’t have the people to leverage them and make the right decisions about and with those tools, they are as useless as your 1980s Commodore. Too often, we focus on the tool and not the people who will be using them. When that happens, these “solutions” have relieved you of nothing in the end but some time and money.