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Andrew Jenkins

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The one thing that trumps drive when it comes to great leadership


No matter how much drive you have – there is one thing that will always beat it when it comes to business leadership success. The extrinsic vs. the intrinsic. Andrew Jenkins explains.
 In other words, leaders driven by extrinsic factors will always lag behind those driven by the intrinsic. Business is like sport: the most successful players love the game. Successful business leaders, if they love what they do, will always go the extra mile to succeed, they will also stand up again after being knocked over and they will look at obstacles and failures as, at worst, a small blip, and at best an opportunity to learn. 
However, some leaders are driven by the external trappings of success and although this can materially sustain them and drive them to great heights, it doesn’t make them happy. Nor will it make them as successful as they could be. Intrinsic passion and doing what you love will always trump extrinsic drivers. The paradox is that if you operate from intrinsic self-worth then the extrinsic rewards generally follow, but this does not hold true the other way around. Success is about knowing yourself and what is at your inner core. However not everyone focuses on the internal and instead they take the easier path and look extrinsically to fulfil their sense of self-worth. 
Leaders hooked into this type of achieving often experience an unreasonable and extreme fear of failure that is a very real and constant nagging threat. This syndrome is termed by James Lawrence as the ‘cycle of grief’. This way of achieving has its consequences and comes at a cost. The key is to help leaders gain new perspectives of success by using different approaches based on deeply understanding who you are, what you do best, and what you love doing. 
Whilst this is not easy, business leaders that follow this intrinsic approach develop a very strong sense of their unique purpose and doing what they love by applying their unique strengths accordingly. They are clear about who they are and what they believe - so they know why they are doing what they do well. As such these people have learned to be centred, confident and happy in their own skin. Success in this way is achieved by believing in and accepting themselves as they are. Whenever something fails to work out then it is taken merely as experience to take forward. Success is based on who they are, not on what they achieve. James Lawrence in his book ‘Growing Leaders’ describes this as the ‘cycle of grace’. 
However in contrast to this many other high achievement people are driven to achieve by completely different factors. A compulsion and relentless drive to achieve is often created because of a lack of any abiding sense of identity, acceptance or significance from within. A gnawing sense of insecurity, unease and ‘uncentredness’ is at the core of what is behind many high achievers’ need to constantly attempt to gain extrinsically what is lacking intrinsically within them. They often need acceptance and approval from others.
In this paradigm, external acceptance is, however, always temporary and fragile and so the urge to keep on the treadmill of achieving never diminishes and the need to achieve eventually becomes an addiction that leads to stress and an unfulfilled life. So how can we, as leaders, achieve what we want and be fulfilled simply by playing to our unique intrinsic inborn strengths? What is the antidote to the cycle of grief? And how can we access our intrinsic core? 
There are two areas you need to work on, whether you are doing it yourself or working with a coach:
1. Spend time raising the bar of your thinking. Become more aware of your deeper values and beliefs; your identity; and tap into your past to search for your personal dreams, aspirations and desires. It is important to gain a sense of purpose and connection to all these aspects. This will begin to develop a strong and centred sense of security that becomes a powerful inner compass of enduring personal security and significance.
2. Develop your sense of self-worth. In this way you start to reach your true authentic self rather than merely achieving for the sake of having to continually proving your worth. When we start to focus on our own self-worth then the need to achieve is perceived very differently. Self-worth is no longer based solely on capabilities as the prize and what has been achieved, but rather on more empowering self-beliefs based on being fulfilled and purposeful instead. 
Applying the above practically requires change and sometimes an element of risk too. If you already lead an established business then spend time looking at ways to ensure your intrinsic self and your passions can be aligned with what you are passionate about. For example, I once coached an operations director who was unhappy leading his department. He was not a natural fit in operations but he was exceptionally talented at innovating new products using cutting-edge technology. Through coaching he was able to pass on his operational responsibilities to another person passionate about this aspect of the business and take up a newly created position of technical director which he loved. In his first year he increased company turnover by £5m. In addition, the newly appointed operations director improved revenue by a further 15%.
This is the power of focusing on your intrinsic passions, and why they will always trump drive when it comes to success. Simon Sinek, best-selling author and ‘TED talk’ presenter puts it this way: “Working hard for something we don't care about is called STRESS. Working hard for something we love is called PASSION.” Now is the time to stop the stress and find your passion.
Andrew Jenkins is a management consultant and skilled facilitator and teacher of new thinking. He is the MD of PDx Consulting Ltd, a consultancy dedicated to developing leaders, managers and executives to perform at their very best in many  well-known organisations across the world. He is also author of ‘You are more than you think - the return to your authentic self’


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