Leadership Sustainability

Is leadership success sustainable?

Riffing on my Comanche Marketing article titled “Authentic and Caring Leadership”, Steve Mores penned an insightful Comanche Marketing article himself titled “Leadership and Sustainability”.

Steve mentions that my article reminded him of authentic and caring leaders who he both worked and works with. So I am going to return the volley and continue the conversation on leadership sustainability. 

Steve introduces Currie Gauvreau’s expertise. Instead of motivating coworkers, Currie believes in inspiring them.

 I think we should be focused on INSPIRING our teams instead. The difference is simple in concept: ‘Motivation is lighting a fire UNDER someone, while inspiration is lighting a fire WITHIN someone!’

I agree! Inspiration courses through the various elements that lead to leadership sustainability.


The North Star of successful long term leadership is a compelling, clear, and inspiring illustration of the company’s future. It needs to not only answer the following questions, but it also needs to magnetize desired fellow travelers. 

  • Why would someone buy-in?
  • Why would they care?
  • Is it inspirational?
  • Is it clear?


Richard J. Leider on purpose:

  • It’s the essence of who we are and what makes us unique
  • It’s an active expression of the deepest dimension within us – where we have found a profound sense of who we are and why we’re here
  • It’s the aim around which we structure our lives, a source of direction and energy. Through the lens of purpose, we can see ourselves and our future more clearly
  • It gives life meaning

Simon Sinek tells us in his book Start With WHY, a company owner’s business and personal purpose (WHY) should be the same. Think about that for a second. Who you are shouldn’t change depending on where you are or what you’re doing.

A compelling purpose draws people in. And most people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Sustaining energy and commitment evolves when coworkers believe what the leader believes. The company then becomes a vehicle for coworkers to express and live out their values and beliefs. 

One final note on purpose. Leider suggests using the default purpose of To Give and To Grow if you haven’t hammered out your own. In over 40 years of research work on purpose, he’s discovered that true purpose consists of these two components.


While purpose is the WHY, the reason for existence, the driving force, passion brings it to life with energy and emotion. Energy and emotion are oxygen to a fire. As Jessica Lauren DeBry says,

“If you wanted to start a campfire with passion and purpose, you’d start with a foundation of wood (your purpose), and start the flame with a match (your passion).”


Positive emotions arise from how we interpret ideas and events as they unfold. Positivity flows when the leader finds and continues to find good in the people and experiences that surround them. 

Positivity flourishes in the workplace when emotions like gratitude, joy, hope, inspiration, and love, to name a few, are present. Leaders who continue to practice these emotions and recognize, celebrate, and encourage them in their coworkers, keep a strong beam of energy and light on the road ahead.

Core Values

Core values are the pillars upon which a company is built. They reflect how an organization behaves while in pursuit of the purpose on the way towards fulfilling its vision. 

When a coworker shares common core values with a company, as with purpose, the company becomes a vehicle to express those values. When we have the opportunity to live and express our core values, we have a tendency to stay with the entity that is giving us the chance to be who we are. 

As long as the leader continues to be true to the core values and supports coworkers in their efforts to express them, it becomes a perpetuating environment.

Daily Disciplines / Practices

Why are so many companies barely eeking out profits, if even making them at all? Because their leaders are either ignorant of and or refuse to follow the practices successful leaders perform day and day out!

What are these disciplines and practices? I like to say they reside in those VHS and cassette tapes and binders covered in dust and piled up in your closet. Consultants like Charlie Greer, Ben Stark, Ron Smith, and Ruth King have educated us for years on these disciplines and practices. Their common challenge? “If only our clients would implement…”

The disciplines, practices, and information are readily available. Check in with industry coaches and consultants. Check in with Service Excellence Training, The Go Time Success Group, and the Service Nation Alliance!

Once you check in and engage, take massive action! The fruit of your consistent effort is the growth and development of your people and company. 


As Jim Collins famously said, “First who, then what – get the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before figuring out where to drive the bus.”

An expedition to cross the south polar continent in 1914 demonstrates the nature of Collins’s advice.

Englishman Ernest Shackleton set out to explore the Antarctic and cross the continent. 11 months into the expedition, the crew’s ship sank. Shackleton took some men, leaving most behind, and journeyed 800 miles for help. Under conditions that would kill most, not one life was lost. Why? Because Shackleton got the right people on his bus. Here’s his recruitment ad:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

For sustainable success, it’s critically imperative to enlist people who share your values and beliefs! 

Leadership sustainability is like a flywheel building momentum. 

From Jim Collins’s book Good to Great:

Picture a huge, heavy flywheel—a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds. Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible. Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. And on and on…

Then, at some point—breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn … whoosh! … its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum. 

The elements we discuss today are the equivalent of each push on the flywheel. It’s impossible to determine which push caused the disc to go so fast. But they’re all necessary.

It really does come down to inspiration. As Steve Mores concludes:

“Inspirational leadership leads to excellence and team members that are “Authentic and Caring”, just like their leader, in all aspects of their personal life, career, AND client interaction!”

For further exploration:

The Power of Purpose by Richard J. Leider

Start With WHY by Simon Sinek

Find Your WHY by Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Drocker

Good to Great by Jim Collins

The Vision Drive Leader by Michael Hyatt

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell  


Dave Rothacker is an author and specializes in Idea Cultivation for Go Time Success Group.

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