A Flawed Idea Well-Executed Does Not Fail Forward
Why People Don't Notice You've Changed

Guest Post by Hank van der Merwe

With all the models and frameworks out there I sometimes wonder if we have taken the simplicity out of leadership. We seem to have a knack of overcomplicating leadership to the point where it seems so complex that it’s out of most peoples reach.

Whether it’s about leading yourself, individuals, teams or organisations, in the end leadership is about influence. Anyone can occupy a position on an organisational chart, but how many people can influence others positively?

Overcomplicating Leadership

I love this quote. Why would you want to be a person who inspires others?

If you want to inspire others to not give up, then you must model what that looks like and display the resilience and courage it takes to stay committed. In order to influence others positively you have to be congruent – your actions need to match your words. If not, you will not come across as believable. 

The simple explanation of leadership is that it begins with you! 

Before you lead anyone else, you must lead yourself. Better people make better leaders. Here are five golden nuggets that I have picked up along my journey and are the key to stop overcomplicating leadership.

1.  Be grateful for what you have right now. 

Employment is a privilege, not a right. Instead of saying, “I have to go to work,” rather say, “I get to go to work.” When your personal purpose is clearly defined and robust, you will be able to take a very different view of the day-to-day drama that the corporate world brings with it.

Once you know what you are dealing with (like a company or leader that won’t develop you), then you can come up with an alternative strategy that works for you. I certainly would never put my growth and development in the hands of someone who is not as invested in my life as I am.

2.  Find out exactly what your company expects from you. 

Consider not just at a KPA level, but also the values, leadership competencies and whatever behaviours your company believes epitomises a good corporate citizen. Then give that to them, plus an additional 10 percent.

3.  Clarify your personal brand. 

We all understand the concept of a brand when it comes to clothing and accessories – the brands you choose form part of your identity; it’s how you want people to perceive you. Your personal brand in a leadership context is how you actively manage the image you portray to others. In other words, how you “show up.”

Reflect on your personal brand and determine if it’s working for you or against you. In today’s world, you don’t want to leave your personal brand to chance. After every seminar I run, I always suggest to people that they update their company records or CV. When last did you update your info on LinkedIn?

4.  Improve your competence. 

I recently had quite a challenging question thrown at me. “How do you lead yourself and grow and improve your competence when your company does not seem interested in your development and doesn’t allow you to attend training courses?” If your company won’t invest in you, then invest in yourself. You want to be Number 1 in your world. (By “your world” I mean team, department or company). Do whatever it takes to improve the value you provide.

Hold regular one-on-one meetings with your boss and show you are interested in your personal development. If your boss still won’t help, don’t give up. It’s too easy to give up and tell yourself a self-defeating story. Look at your personal growth as if your life depends on it. There are tons of books; articles and free online courses that will help you get to the top of your game.

5.  Learn how to get along with as many people as you can. 

The ability to connect with and relate to others will make you memorable. People will do far more for someone they like and trust, than for someone they don’t. In a world that’s constantly making people feel inferior, reach out and make a difference. Just using someone’s name and really listening to them will make them see you differently.


I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  ~Maya Angelou

So, to answer my earlier question, I believe that serving others is your highest calling. To me, that’s the only reason to inspire people, so that they don’t give up – so one day they will make a positive difference to someone else, just like you did for them.


Hank van der MerweHank van der Merwe, co-founder of Mastery Global (PTY) LTD and owner of HankVDM Signature Coaching, is an internationally recognized facilitator, keynote speaker, consultant, coach and author on the subjects of leadership, sales and self-mastery. His energetic and entertaining presentation style has made him one of the highest rated coaches and consultants in his field internationally with clients in diverse industries such as Telecommunications, ICT, Finance, Engineering, Mining, Pharmaceutical, Recruitment, FMCG, Manufacturing and Banking in over 26 countries in North America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific Region.Hank is on a mission to help others step up and set a new standard for themselves, their families, their businesses, their communities and ultimately the world.

Photo credit: Hank van der Merwe | 5 Tips to Stop Overcomplicating Leadership


A Flawed Idea Well-Executed Does Not Fail Forward
Why People Don't Notice You've Changed

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