Leadership Series (20) How Being Diligent Can Make A Great Leader. By Victor A. Imhangbe

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Being diligent is constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything. Simply put it; the ability to start a task and complete it no matter the distraction that may have comes your way or the difficulties or challenges that might come to your way. The Holy Bible: book of Proverbs 13:4 says, “The sluggard (lazy person) craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Sluggards want many things. They do not get them because they do not work for them. Diligent people often get what they want because they work hard to achieve it.

There is an old Thai Proverb which encourages people “to be as diligent as an ant”. Unfortunately, people tend to focus more of other contemporarily qualities of good leader in 21st century and forgetting about being diligent. In practice, every great leader learns the secret of being diligent. According to Buck Jacobs, Founder and Chairman of the C12 Group states that “Diligence is making a series of successful short-term steps that lead to long-term success. Even the Holy Bible; in the book of Daniel 6:1-28, identified Daniel as possessing outstanding qualities due to his diligent personality. The King decided to place him to rule over the kingdom because of his exceptional administrative abilities which he learns through devotion and commitment.

As a manager, administrator or technocrat occupying any leadership position; there are countless obstacles and disappointment that will comes your ways and those manufactures by your competitor to frustrate you and loss focus. It could be your campaign managers that will advise you to look for another profession due to the series of failure that is associated with you. The bad thing about being diligent in most cases; you are not notice, in fact people who are far from you often sees you as not a responsible individual because whenever you are doing something without result to show for it, you are automatically tag as failure. Being diligent as a political actor enables you to stay the course, because you can visualise your target, even when it is not manifesting yet, but diligent will ultimate see you through.

Vital questions that comes to mind

  • Do you understand ‘why’ you are doing what you are doing?
  • Who will ultimately benefit from what you’re doing, once your task is completed?
  • Think of your desired outcome. How can you regularly remind yourself of this?
  • What system could you put in place that would help you get a big task completed, one small step at a time?

To answer the above questions, it is easier for leaders to visualise so well that they can almost taste it. Of course they are also aware that it requires diligence to turn their vision into reality. Unfortunately, it is usually not in leader’s nature to be diligent because most are naturally impatient, there is that zealousness to get a task accomplished at all cost. In a nutshell, leaders tend to focus on discipline, instead of focusing on diligence. Great leaders structure their lives by creating a system or routine that helps them to apply their energy to specific tasks on a daily basis. No wonder! John Maxwell opines: that “Self-Discipline is the ability to do what is right even when you don’t feel like doing it.” Leaders build discipline into their lives because it promotes diligence.

Ken Gosnell in his work: titled: “To Become A Great Leader, Consider ‘The Diligence Of The Ant” provides four ways to become more diligent leaders and entrepreneurs.

1. Do the most important task of every day first. One secret of very dynamic leaders is that they prioritise their day. Each night before going to bed, they think about the tasks that they should or could complete the next day. Then they make another important step.They prioritize their list so that they know what task is the most important task to complete. Then when they awake the next day, they focus first on the most important task. This task triumphs emails, impromptu meetings, or other people’s agendas. This one step of diligence can improve productivity by 60 percent.

2. Do tasks intentionally and correctly rather than fast.Business speed is important. Learning how to do more things faster can separate you and your business from the competition. However, doing things faster so that they have to be redone can lead to disaster for the firm. The diligent leader focuses intently on the task at hand and does it right so that it does not have to be repeated. My father taught me the old truism that, “measure twice and cut once.” This old leadership teaching should be practiced in businesses of all sizes.

3. Give critical tasks high levels of energy.The most valuable asset that a leader possesses is their energy. One key mistake that some managers make is giving the wrong amount of energy to unimportant or unnecessary tasks. Diligence means giving the right level of energy to the right task at the right time.

4. Overcome excuses that stop your diligence. Excellent leaders never allow the excuses and obstacles of the day to prevent them from accomplishing what they were called to complete. The diligent leader longs to hear the words, “Well Done” at the end of each day knowing that they have given great effort for the right tasks to bring about the right results.

Looking at the reign of the most acclaimed wisest king in history, King Solomon; the man that built the temple in Jerusalem in seven years, codify these words in the book of Proverbs 21:5. He says, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Solomon was reminding every great leader about how valuable diligence is to their success. Every leader can become a more diligent leader when we practice these four principles of diligence on a daily basis.

The Benefits of Diligence: in business and employment
Let us examine the work of James Abola titled; “Reflections on personal money management from a Christian perspective”: it emphasise the benefits of diligence in business and employment as discussed below:

1. Diligence leads to dominion while laziness results in being dominated. Proverbs 12:24 “The hand of the diligent will rule, but the slothful will be put to forced labour.” Not many people are noble by birth, nor well connected; but they can still get ahead and become leaders and managers by being diligent. Joseph and Esther offer biblical examples of how otherwise ordinary people became rulers because they were diligent. Instead of hating or disliking the boss, be diligent and perhaps you will end up becoming boss one day.

2. Diligence makes the difference between being rich or poor. Proverbs 10:4 “He becomes poor who works with a slack and idle hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” A person who is diligent in work or business is able to increase his/her income through higher productivity and exceeding the expectations of the employer or customer.

3. Diligence is necessary for seizing opportunities. Proverbs 12:27 “The slothful man does not catch his game or roast it once he kills it, but the diligent man gets precious possessions.” Many people either miss opportunities or don’t see them at all but being diligence will help you to both recognise and seize opportunities.

4. Diligence leads to profit and satisfaction. Proverbs 13:4 “The appetite of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the appetite of the diligent is abundantly supplied.” Even when all doors are shut in her face, the diligent person will persist until they find a way.

5. Diligence leads to growth and promotion. Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man diligent and skillful in his business? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” The diligent employees make themselves indispensable, by producing quality work. Similarly a diligent business owner will exceed the expectations of his clients making them repeat customers and unpaid marketing agents for his business. When your purpose is to become excellent in something be it work or business, the quality of your work and your good reputation will open better doors for you.

6. Diligent planning avoids daydreams and nightmares. Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” Many people have lost money and even their reputation because of get rich quick schemes. The key to having more than enough or getting a financial breakthrough is by laying diligent plans. Diligent planning is not only well thought out but also gets implemented and is committed to God according to Proverbs 16:3. There is a Japanese saying that captures it well: “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”

The above discussion has shown that the important of diligent is immeasurable in the success of a leader. Not only does it cause you to achieve your goals but it also makes a favourable impression on the followers. Hence the activity that was thought to be painful turns out to be fruitful. Our next series will reveal the inherent danger to a leader who takes delights in pettiness. Your opinion and feedback is appreciated on the comment column. Do you like the piece? It’s always good to share.

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