“Focus”, one of the 4 words in my personal mantra. A crucial one. Hope I don’t have to convince you that a lack of progress is unhealthy. Progress boosts people’s motivation.

Here’s a thought for you. Do you as a leader keep track of progress? Or do you mainly keep track of setbacks?

Terese Amabile, who is Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration and a Director of Research at Harvard Business School, adds in “The Progress Principle” an interesting angle: it’s crucial to know how to handle setbacks, because they have a more powerful negative impact (2 to 3 times more) than progress has a positive impact.

Convinced that progress is crucial? How come that the majority of people fail in this area?

By failure I mean:

  • Big dreams, no execution.
  • Lots of inspiration, no transpiration.
  • Big responsibilities, no accountability.
  • Lots of promises, no progress.
  • Overpromises, under delivery.
  • Huge ambitions, no matches won.
  • Big salaries and bonuses, no results.
  • Doing lots of stuff, but not doing anything good.
  • Not willing to go the extra mile when the going gets tough.

It’s funny to see that the majority of people are convinced they are focused when in fact it’s the complete opposite. As a true leader, you just know who’s authentic and who’s not. When you confront people about a lack of progress and you get the “big excuses” and the “it wasn’t me statements”, you just know…

I confess: I hate excuses and I can’t hide it. Why should I accept it as a leader? Happy to be called “a difficult person” in that area. There’s no other option. I have to delight all stakeholders and you really can’t do that without focus.

But I’ve got great news for everyone who wants to work with me, you know, “the difficult person”: if you are ready for it, I’m always available to help you focus (and I can be very nice to people who do)!

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