Achieving great goals is not an accident; it is the result of persistent leadership that sees failure as a temporary obstacle. Persistence is the ability to continue moving forward, looking for solutions and working toward success. This quality is also the ability to confront challenges and retain your perspective — even when the challenges of leadership become stressful or complicated. Persistence is the driving trait behind strong leadership.
Problems and challenges are a part of any organization or project. A leader must confront these challenges, assessing their severity and suggesting solutions to keep the group on track. Persistence is the ability to confront each new challenge with the same intensity and determination, as well as the desire to seek a solution even when the solution is difficult. A strong leader is defined by her ability to confront these issues consistently, as well as her ability to continue looking for new solutions even when former solutions fail.
A strong leader represents a form of stability for his subordinates, acting and reacting to situations with a relatively similar perspective. Subordinates rely on a leader’s stability. For a leader, persistence is the ability to remain consistent even when confronted by multiple problems and complications. This persistence establishes a set of expectations for subordinate action. For instance, if a leader establishes a specific rule for employees who arrive late, then enforces this rule in a persistent manner, employees can expect a specific response if they are late.
The leader of any organization or project establishes the tone for the group. Leaders establish this tone through action, making specific choices that subordinates come to expect. Once established, this tone becomes the expectation for the group. A leader can establish a tone of persistence with a “can do” attitude and an unwillingness to accept that a solution lies beyond the group’s ability. Persistent leadership inspires persistent subordinates. Once established, this tone becomes the operating principle for the group, with each employee seeking solutions to problems and believing that success is always possible.
In September 1962, John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech establishing the national dedication to go to the moon by saying, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard.” The words of this speech, and the decades of innovation that followed, demonstrate the necessity of persistence when working to achieve complicated or seemingly impossible goals. Persistence is the ability to move forward, even when a solution is not obvious, after failure and when the path is difficult.
Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.