Hard Work: The Most Underestimated Leadership Quality

hardworkimageI think we undervalue hard work as a leadership quality. Understandable since it’s not glamorous like courage and doesn’t pull on the heartstrings like kindness. Never the less, the ability to get things done and push harder than anyone else is vital if you’re going to succeed at anything. The most important business lesson my father taught me is to never underestimate the power of hard work. I’m actually pretty old school when it comes to leadership, which you can probably tell from reading my articles.

All the technology and clever strategies in the world can’t help you if you’re lazy and don’t show up. ~ Narges Nirumvala

Watching my Father has taught me so much. On a personal note when I first met my husband (many years ago now!) I remember a common value we shared was a strong work ethic. We would share stories of the long hours and sacrifices our immigrant parents made to provide for us. It’s something that draws us together even now and a value we live everyday. So I thought we could examine hard work in more detail and give it the focus it so rightly deserves:

1. Show Up.

Showing up is about being visible and taking action. Not just thinking about it and planning it, but actually doing it. It’s about execution.

I’ve found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often. ~ Brian Tracy

2. Don’t Make Excuses.

We all have people we work with who make excuses rather than taking action. They are infuriating to work with, don’t pull their weight and and rarely get anything done. They rely on other people to do the work for them, ‘fake’ competence and coast through life. Eventually it will catch up to them. People like that drive me crazy. They are toxic to teams and need to be mentored to improve or weeded out.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~ Benjamin Franklin

3. Make Priorities and Stick to Them.

How many times have you said “I’m sorry I can’t do that I’m just too busy”. I’ve said it too! The truth is we are rarely too busy, we just don’t want to do it. It’s not a priority. When something is a priority you make the time to do it. Because let’s face it, we’re all busy. Don’t hide behind the ‘I’m too busy’ mask, if something isn’t a priority then delegate it or let it go. 

4. Put In The Hours.

There’s something inspiring about people who put in the hours to get work done. All the superstar entrepreneurs and amazing leaders I know share this ability. They work hard and are proud of it. In an era of balance I know it seems contrary to praise hard work, but I think it’s important to know when to plow through your work full steam ahead and when to take a break. Some tasks and projects take more time and effort.

Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. ~ Vince Lombardi

5. Honour Your Word and Do Your Best.4agreements

I’m a huge fan of the book ‘The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom‘ by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. Both these points are from his book, which is why I put them together. Of the four principles he shares in his book (see the image) these are the two that resonate with me the most. Being able to honour your word and always doing your best sound like the kind of advice a Father would give don’t they?

My Dad epitomizes these two qualities. I’ve really taken them to heart and tried to make them part of my everyday life.

Great leaders are committed to everyday excellence. They put 100% into every task for ultimate success. ~ Narges Nirumvala

One final point, every June I review my ‘optional’ activities, such as volunteer Boards and Committees  and ‘let go’ of the ones that just aren’t working for me anymore. I have to admit I always feel guilty when I do it. I stepped away from a board position just the other day (which is not on my LinkedIn profile in case you were wondering) and within 24-hours I had a possibility of another board position. Sometimes you have to create a void for the Universe to fill it. You have to close a door for the Universe to open a window. 


IMG_6424Lo_croppedNarges Nirumvala is the CEO of ExecutiveSpeak Coaching International and a world-renowned leadership communication expert. Dubbed ‘The Secret Weapon’ by one journalist, she is an international keynote speaker, award winning entrepreneur, executive speech coach and author of the public speaking and presentation skills book “Capture the Spotlight”.  Her clients include executives and leadership teams from Fortune 500 and FT 500 companies. She was selected one of the Top 100 Leadership Experts to Follow on Twitter and is a featured writer on the LinkedIn ‘Leadership & Management’ Channel. Inquire about her services here.