I am a task addict- I love getting things done. If there was a professional sport of getting stuff done, I’d be in the pro-bowl.

Me: I spread 14 yards of mulch in a day!

Wife: Where are our kids?

Me: What kids?***

All of my focus on tasks can distract me from where I can make a real difference to the organization and to others: by obsessing over people, the future, and our mission.

  1. PEOPLE: Leaders should obsess over their people- including the organization’s culture, its climate, and the development of its people. As long as the organization is made up of human beings, you need them at their best, and they need you to help create the kind of place where they thrive. After all, if you don’t, who will? (HINT: Organizations that want to hire your best employees.)
  1. FUTURE: As Gretsky famously said, skate “to where the puck is going, not where it’s been.” Leaders size up the external environment, make sense of what is often ambiguous and uncertain, and choose a path forward. Can they predict the future? Of course not. But thinking about the future should not be an afterthought; we’re not leading people into the past.
  1. MISSION: By focusing on why the organization exists, aligning the organization’s structures around that idea, then influencing all of its players to sprint in the same direction, leaders can have a powerful draw on others- exerting a force that moves the organization forward.

It is incredibly easy to make leadership too complicated; after all, it’s a tough thing to do well, and depends on our ability to adapt to a wide variety of situations. By obsessing over people, the future, and our mission, (and not getting consumed by tasks), we can make a real difference in our workplaces and in the lives of others. That’s why leadership is a force multiplier; it adds more than just one more pair of hands.

***The kids were with me playing ‘King of the Mountain’ on the mulch pile. One of the two fell off and landed on his face. A 50% injury rate isn’t something to brag to their mother about.



Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.

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