chess pieces

Leadership Success and Failure

Both are a function of SEQUENCING!

Believe it or not, when it comes to leadership, the ability to appropriately sequence things really matters. Those who get the sequencing right, succeed. Those who get it wrong struggle and potentially fail. What’s the magic of this leadership sequencing? Your mindset, your skillset and then your toolset!

We often hear the phrase “ready, willing and able” and just naturally accept it. In actuality, it is out of sequence. Interestingly, this common phrase is also a great roadmap for leadership development – in its proper order.

Leaders must first be “willing” to engage, to do the work and to appropriately play their role in order to be effective. This is a mindset choice. And it is truly binary; you either embrace it or you don’t.

If you choose to embrace it, you get to proceed to step two and potentially have success – assuming you are in fact “able” to play the role. If you chose to pass, this can also be a smart choice because you can avoid failure in a role you do not want and pursue one you do. If you choose not to choose, you will likely fail as a leader. Here’s why: You may not be sure you want the leadership role, but your organization gives it to you anyway, and you then struggle or provide mediocre engagement. The outcome? Leadership failure.

Leadership is a Skilled Profession: Let’s assume you get the first part of the sequencing right and you are a “willing” leader. Being “able” to play your leadership role is the second step in the sequence and it requires a certain skillset. Yes, leadership is most definitely a skilled profession. Your ability to learn about how people are hard-wired and why it matters, what is emotional intelligence and how to use it, how to communicate, influence as well as build healthy relationships, all require learning and practice to build your capabilities. Those who have conscious discipline learn and practice, ultimately becoming successful leaders. Those who believe they can just be hackers, show up and put something out there randomly have a leadership failure outcome.

Having your mindset of willingness and your skill set of capability sets you up for potential success as a leader. The third and final part of the sequencing is being ready. Here, ready is being able to take your collective toolset and apply it on the ground, in real time, as a leader. Sounds simple, but for many leaders, crossing the knowing-doing gap is the hardest part. Knowing what to do with your skills and actually choosing to consciously use them as tools to facilitate progress through coaching, decision making, engaging in productive conflict by calling out an unproductive behavior in service of getting your team to a higher level of performance – these are just a few of the ultimate leadership acts of success.

Leadership has a sequence; follow it or dismiss it at your own peril!

About the Author: Erica Peitler is a leadership performance coach, speaker and author of the international best-selling book, “Leadership Rigor!” She can be reached at


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