But if you observe someone who is brilliant at what they do – say, an athlete, or an actor or a dancer (and often a great leader) - one can often notice that what they have eliminated is more important than what they have added. The result is elegance. Great athletes, entertainers and artists make everything look so easy. They make it look elegant.
As readers of this blog will know, I am a passionate skier. When I bring leaders to my mountain home to live and ski with me and become stronger leaders, I tell them that there are two words that will become their mantra: elegance and grace. The first leads to the second.
Elegance is about removing the unnecessary, simplifying, and perfecting what remains. Intermediate skiers tend to tire more easily than experts because they are trying and working harder – just like intermediate leaders. Expert skiers – expert anything, really - have removed surplus motions and techniques, discovered what is important and essential, perfected it, and integrated it all into a graceful process. For expert skiers this results in what I call “a dance with the mountain”.
Leadership is the same. Great leaders remove the non-essentials so they can perfect the essentials – like removing the need to talk too much, so they can hone their listening; eliminating the urge to put on a show so they can focus on enhancing the way they serve and inspire others; calming the ego so that more oxygen is available for others; removing the need to tinker and “get in the weeds” so they can refine their strategic and visioning skills.
Great leaders (and athletes, artists, parents, friends) are well served when they ask the question, “What could I eliminate in my life, my organization, the world, that would lead to greater elegance and grace?”