By Sean VanBerschot, Culture and Leadership Maestro

As the Olympic season dawns, I have always wondered where the cliché around leadership and marathons comes from. According to my fully comprehensive and exhaustive Amazon search, Gordon Tredgold is the most credible (aka the top of the search results) authoring “Leadership: It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint.” Even with all the dialogue on business risks resulting from a constantly changing, globally interconnected workforce and industry, the decades-old ascription to the leadership paradigm is still at play – a marathoner.

I might suggest that instead of more marathoners, we need more decathletes in our leadership roles to address the future.  For business and government, we need leaders who can run, to be sure, but also who can jump, throw, swim, ski, vault and more. More importantly, we need leaders who know how to win when faced with the multitude of tasks they are great at–and not great at–in risky and time-strapped situations.  We need well-rounded skills, great agility and extraordinary judgement when faced with the multiple variables of playing a ten-piece game.

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting we need leaders to be great in everything. The great decathletes of the world have significant weaknesses in a skill or event, but have figured out their competition prior to every engagement and adjust before, during and after an event. Great decathletes are adept in making swift and informed changes to their plan and strategy to ensure the outcome. Those same athletes train for the endurance, stamina and strength from a range of disciplines, knowing they are better prepared for the unknown with multiple disciplines.  Ultimately, they are adept at what we at Prosono call the Foundational Behaviors of Success:

  • Outcome-focused and aligned
  • Responsive, resilient and agile
  • Motivated and inspired
  • Integrated and empowered

The Foundational Behaviors of Success require a dramatic and sizeable shift in organizations and systems of delivery. Whether you’re a health-provider network looking to attract the best talent while minimizing process errors in high-risk situations, or a family-owned insurance company facing a changing industry and new workforce, the elements are a necessity for your future success.

I look forward to the evolving success of business and government as more decathletes step up on to the ceremonial medal podium.