The Actions of Leadership Series, #10: Influence People to Stay on the Path

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 18, Issue No. 12b
April 15, 2020

By Dan Coughlin


I think one of the most important aspects of leadership is mundane leadership.

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, mundane means to be characterized by the practical and ordinary. Mundane is incredibly hard to maintain. It takes relentless focus to be mundane. It requires a mountain of strength to be consistent day after day for decades. And that is where greatness comes into play.

Keep Your Purpose and Values Clear and Constant and Up Front All The Time

You are a leader. You have brought together a fellowship around an important purpose and clear values with your eyes set as an organization on achieving important outcomes. You see the path that you need to stay on, and it consists of your purpose and your values. The activities along the way will likely change, but sticking to the path is the key to achieving those great goals.

You got the team excited. People are pulling together and supporting each other. Things are happening. Results are being achieved.

But then boredom sets in with the daily routine. Jealousy and egos rear their ugly heads. Other pastures look greener. Other purposes and vales seem more cutting-edge and exciting. There is an enormous temptation to jump and try something else.

Sam Walton, Oprah Winfrey, Ralph Lauren, Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, Warren Buffett, Walt Disney.

They all stayed the course. They stayed focused.

They did different things, but they never left their path, their purpose and values. They tried different ways to achieve great outcomes, but they always stayed within a given purpose and a given set of values.

Don’t lose your focus. Start with yourself. Stay true to your values, your purpose, your path. Add team members who buy into that purpose and those values for the long term. The quest to fulfill that purpose is the path you are on. You might do things differently and you might do different things on that quest, but don’t allow yourself or your team to give up the purpose and the values too easily for something that seems more exciting. That’s the pattern for never achieving anything great.

My parents went on a quest starting in 1955 when they got married. They wanted all their children to be well educated. They wanted all of them to get a college degree. They stayed focused on that quest for 36 years until their sixth child got her college degree in 1991. They talked about this quest over and over and over again.

In your work, clarify the quest, the purpose you want to fulfill individually and collectively, and the values that will drive behaviors in your team. Then obsess over that purpose and those values. Talk about them consistently week after week. Don’t allow yourself or other people to jump off that path and fall in love with a flavor-of-the-month purpose or catchy values that other companies are talking about.

Your path consists of your purpose and your values. Your plan consists of activities. Your activities can change. That’s understandable. But don’t allow your path to change.

Resource Recommendation

 Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

I do love that book.

Republishing Articles

My newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.

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