A Leadership Lesson for All of Us

As we talk about leadership, it seems important to discuss community and non-profit initiatives to enhance leadership skills.  In Central Pennsylvania, we have a non-profit organization – Leadership Harrisburg Area (LHA) – dedicated specifically to the cause of leadership and service.

LHA is an independent organization devoted to improving the quality of life in the area through servant leadership and effective community service. Their mission is to engage, develop, and mobilize a diverse group of skilled leaders to shape the region’s future, strengthen our communities, and enhance the organizations they serve.

LHA has been in existence for over 25 years, and in that time, over 1,000 business and community leaders have graduated from their training programs.  My company spoke with Una Martone, the current LHA president, who made an interesting observation about leadership as it relates to the dedication to a cause. She explained that community volunteers often spread themselves too thin and are not effective for any of the organizations they serve.

Over-commitment is also prevalent with business owners, executives, and managers who pursue too many projects, ultimately making them ineffective at successfully executing a single task.  This is one of the reasons I developed, Overloaded and Overwhelmed: 10 Strategies for Gaining Control.

Marshall Goldsmith, a leadership expert and author, believes that overcommitment actually stifles our happiness. In a 2010 blog, he makes an ironic psychological observation.

“Our habit of overcommitting in terms of time has produced the unintended consequence of making us appear undercommitted in terms of spirit—is rarely appreciated by our customers or our colleagues.”

Simply stated, those who are overcommitted tend to trudge through tasks half-heartedly and forget the reason – the core motivating reason – for getting involved in a task, project, or cause in the first place.

Martone emphasizes that, “by focusing efforts on something that they are truly passionate about and learning to say NO to ancillary requests, today’s leaders can have a deeper and more meaningful impact and truly make a difference in their community.”

Perhaps this is a leadership lesson for all of us.

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