15 Things Successful Leaders Do (and Unsuccessful Leaders DON’T)

No one gives awards for this kind of work, but the people who do this work are the ones who receive awards.

In my work with churches across the country, a large part of my responsibility would be classified as business development. This includes lead generation, connecting with pastors and church leaders, accessing need and opportunity, building relationships and earning enough trust to stand before their boards and key decision-makers in hopes of serving their long-term stewardship and generosity needs.

Many days are not glamorous. Today was one such day. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday I was very behind. I made dozens and dozens and dozens of attempts to connect with pastors with no success. It was one of those frustrating days that make you want to pull your hair out … until very late in the day. In fact, it was my final call.

The pastor said he had a deacons meeting tomorrow evening and the timing was perfect. After 40 minutes of conversation, we will have an opportunity to potentially serve this church beginning in January.

This was a reminder of some leadership truths only the most successful leaders know. Truths like “struggle is necessary for strength,” “the fruit is always at the end of the branch; it is not close to the tree trunk,” “always play through” and “finish strong.” Success often comes from consistent pounding and pounding until a breakthrough finally comes.

But it also reminded me of The Type of Work Successful Leaders Do That Unsuccessful Leaders Do Not: The Lonely Work.

1. The Lonely Work no one sees.

2. The Lonely Work does not get the accolades.

3. The Lonely Work you just have to press through.

4. The Lonely Work requires discipline.

5. The Lonely Work is what makes vision become reality.

6. The Lonely Work is studying, researching and thinking differently.

7. The Lonely Work smells a lot like sweat … which happens to also smell a lot like success.

8. The Lonely Work often begins in the morning night and ends in the evening night.

9. The Lonely Work is the pain before the gain.

10. The Lonely Work must be done daily.

11. The Lonely Work is incremental but compounds over time.

12. The Lonely Work is rarely satisfying until you see the fruits of your labor.

13. The Lonely Work is for people who refuse to quit.

14. The Lonely Work is for people whose dreams are so big they could not do anything else.

15. The Lonely Work is for humble leaders who want to get better and do not have all the answers.

The Lonely Work is the type of work only the most successful leaders do.

No one gives awards for lonely work. But the people who do the lonely work are the ones who receive the awards. As a leader, how are you doing when no one is watching? This will ultimately determine your level of success.

Brian Dodd
Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.