Applying the Serenity Prayer to Leadership

                There is some truth to the serenity prayer when it comes to leadership – Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Initially this seems a little counter-intuitive to the premise that leaders can do anything.  I believe that leaders need the mindset of invincibility but the understanding of reality.  It is the mindset of strength that gives leaders their ability to try new things or to face danger with some sense of confidence. Understanding reality means that leaders recognize that things don’t always go according to plan.  The idea that all leaders are infallible is completely false; so there will be failures along the way.  To be honest, all great leaders need to fail.  It is from failure that we can gain our greatest experiences and knowledge.   

                By recognizing that everyone will fail and that leaders are no exception to that rule is important, but then the first part of my statement comes back into play: Leaders need the mindset of invincibility.  Yes, we all fail, but it is the perseverance and fortitude of leaders to continue to try that matters.  With this thought, let’s go back to the serenity prayer.  While failure may be possible and perseverance is important, a leader must also re-evaluate the methods used to achieve the goal. Let’s face it. Some rocks in the path to success may not budge.  A leader will need to figure out which rocks can be moved and which ones need a way around.  Keep in mind, the ‘rocks’ in the path to success may be things like people, policies or physical challenges.

                As any parent will say “pick your battles”, that also applies to leaders.  When it comes to change, some people will get on board and be ready to go; others will resist and may reject completely the solution presented.  The leader has to figure out how to manage those differences in personalities effectively.  Policies or other rules can be big roadblocks, which may not change.  It is up to the leader, therefore, to work within the boundaries presented – and change the boundaries where possible.  The same thing applies to physical challenges.  The bottom line: Leaders should push the envelope where they can and recognize where they can’t.


-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team



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