Are You Making This Hidden Leadership Mistake?

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My piano is being tuned as I’m writing this. Don’t get me wrong…it didn’t sound out of tune. But it’s a valuable instrument, and I care about it. So I get it tuned twice a year, without fail. Now, I have this friend who I’ll call “George” (although his real name is Alan). “George” also has a nice piano. Mine’s a Steinway, his is a Baldwin. “George,” however, only gets his piano tuned when he thinks it sounds out of tune.

The problem is that a piano goes out of tune gradually, so by the time “George” thinks there’s a problem, it already sounds pretty bad to people hearing it for the first time.

It occurs to me that some of us treat our careers—and our leadership—kind of like “George” treats his piano. This is not a good thing. Do you really want to have your clients think you’re “out of tune” before you notice it yourself? Do you want your customers starting to look at other options because your service has slipped imperceptibly (imperceptibly to you, that is!)? Do you want your best team members exploring other employment opportunities because you’re not quite the leader you used to be?

Is your career, and your leadership, in need of a tune-up?

Is your career, and your #leadership, in need of a tune-up? Share on X

The seventh of Stephen Covey’s ridiculously famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is Sharpen the Saw®, which means that you “seek continuous improvement and renewal, both professionally and personally.”

Sharpening the Saw means you’re staying sharp, you’re tuned up. (And yes, for you music people out there, I get the irony of “being sharp” meaning the same as “in tune.”) You’re not, as my friend Vanna once said, “living on the vapors of yesterday’s glory.”

Are you living on the vapors of yesterday’s glory? #leadership Share on X

We all know people like this, don’t we? People who are counting on their past accomplishments to get today’s rewards. But the audience doesn’t care how great the piano used to sound—and your customers (and your team) don’t care how great a leader you used to be.

I’m a keynote speaker. Today’s audience doesn’t care about yesterday’s standing ovation. All they care about is how good I am today. And your world is no different.

Today’s audience doesn’t care about yesterday’s standing ovation. #leadership Share on X

Certainly, your livelihood is as valuable to you as my Steinway is to me. (It is, isn’t it?) So take a tip from my piano tuner (a splendid young man named Brian). Give your career a “tune up” at least every six months. Give it a good look and listen. Are your skills up to snuff, or have you been a little lax? Are you current with your professional reading, or have the books and magazines stacked up? Has it been a while since you’ve been to a professional association event?

In other words, is it time for a tune-up?


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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