a story from the 1992 Summer Olympics that featured two tremendously
poignant moments. American sprinter Gail Devers, the clear leader in
the 100 meter hurdles, tripped over the last barrier. She agonizingly
pulled herself to her knees and crawled the last five meters,
finishing fifth- but finishing.
Even more heart-rending was the 400 meter semifinal in which British
runner Derek Redmond tore a hamstring and fell to the track. He
struggled to his feet and began to hobble, determined to complete the
race. His father ran from the stands to help him off the track, but
the athlete refused to quit. He leaned on his father, and the two
limped to the finish line together, to deafening applause.
Hang around in leadership long enough and you will come to know that
leadership is not for wimps. It takes a tremendous amount of
perseverance and determination in order to succeed. As we begin a new
year now might be a good time to revisit some of the characteristics
of resolute leadership and why they are important. Here are five for
Many things will compete for your time and attention as a leader.
Discipline is necessary for time management and as a buffer against
trivial things that constantly compete for your attention. Possessing
the discipline to not be distracted by things in the margins will
require this skill. Discipline is also necessary in order to set the
pace for others in your organization. When discipline is strong best
practices will follow.
Resolute leaders stick to their core values. When your values are
clear to you and to everyone else in your organization then it
simplifies the decision making process. If a policy or action doesn’t
line up with your core values then the decision-making process is
streamlined. Knowing your core values is essential to your operation.
Have you defined them? Can everyone accurately communicate them? If
not, make this a priority. Values keep you ground and give you
Strength in Adversity
Every leader faces adversity. The test of your leadership is not
whether you will face challenges but in how you will respond to them
and how quickly you can put them behind you. Your strength is not
developed in adversity but rather it is revealed in adversity. The
strength that gets you through adversity is grown over time and is a
maturity factor of your leadership. A resolute leader will not back
down in adversity but will see it as just another milestone in his or
her growth as a leader.
A resolute leader is a relationship builder. One primary reason is
because a leader can’t do it alone. The success of the leader is tied
to the success of those around him. The leader who stands the test of
time is the one who has learned the secret of building relationships,
and thus, the people around him. John Maxwell’s principle of “walking
slowly through the crowd” is one that comes to mind. When you take the
time to build relationships and realize it’s one of the most essential
skills as a leader you will be a resolute leader surrounded by a great
host of people to share the journey.
Resolute leaders have learned how to navigate through adversity, have
the discipline to lead themselves and others, have built
relationships, and are passionate about the future. Come what may,
resolute leaders are optimistic. Through hard work and perseverance,
the future is bright for those who choose to see it. When your values
are aligned with your vision you can proceed with confidence in
knowing that today can be good and tomorrow can be even better.
What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at