Let's face it: Leadership is hard work, and it's getting harder. To truly excel, to truly be a great leader over the long term, you must have the courage and persistence to do the hard work of leadership. Delivering consistent financial results, attaining high team performance, executing strategy, managing multiple and often conflicting priorities, and driving innovation aren't easy. You must realize that there is hard work that you alone as a leader can and must do, and if you don't do it, you'll set yourself and your organization back.
I've met far too many leaders who are reluctant to dig in, choosing instead to avoid the hard work. Others act as bystanders, watching things happen. And then there are those leaders who simply look for the easy way out, thinking that some quick-fix idea will make everything better, only to be surprised when these quick fixes don't fix anything. We need to stop underestimating what it takes to be a consistently great leader. Sure, leadership can be easy if you're satisfied with mediocrity. But that's not what the leadership contract is all about.
It's time that we as leaders understand that the real work of leadership isn't easy. We also need to understand that we'll need resilience, determination, and a deep sense of personal resolve to be effective. This is what the third term of the leadership contract is all about (see Figure 6.1).