A Boston Merchant

THE STORY IS TOLD OF A Boston merchant who sold his business and possessions in 1849, and trekked across America to the gold fields of California to seek his fortune. Day after day, the young man prospected but came up empty. His only reward was a growing pile of rocks. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit when an old, prospector said to him, “There’s gold in these rocks.” He picked up two of them and smashed them together, revealing several flecks of gold. He then said, “Son, you are so busy look- ing for large nuggets that you’re miss- ing these precious flecks of gold. The patient accumulation of these flecks has brought me great wealth.”

Like this young prospector, many leaders seek major experiences that will vault them to success and enable them to shine. But real progress in leadership skills and talents are developed one seeming- ly minor fleck at a time. From small, continuous efforts come major gains.

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Hotel founder J. Willard Marriott noted: “You can’t improve 1,000 percent in one thing, but you can improve one percent in a thousand things.” Over his career, J W Marriott learned that it takes many small flecks patiently and persis- tently acquired over time to generate desired performance. You can’t expect leaps of progress over night. It takes persistent, patient effort over time to expe- rience major gains in your ability to lead.

Yes, leaders need to focus on their strengths, but also be aware of their weaknesses to prevent mistakes that can derail their careers. In coaching execu- tives, I let them know of areas that impair their effectiveness. Often they reply: “So, what do I do about it?”

In response, we created the LEAD NOW! model. Leaders must achieve aligned and positive results from four perspectives: 1) their people; 2) busi- ness; 3) the marketplace (external); and 4) their organization (internal). These four points of view encompass the four Leader Growth Improve your LD model.

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