Yes, there I said it. Genghis Khan, the ruthless warrior, and founder of the Mongolian empire who brutally massacred civilians across Asia and Europe was also thoughtful. While on vacation in California last week, we visited an exhibit featuring Genghis Khan. He is credited with initiating concepts such as national parklands, passports, freedom of religion, protection of the environment, and many more. Khan’s rule that “Kings do not kill envoys” was a thoughtful approach to diplomatic immunity.
Thoughtful leaders fully understand the consequences, both intentional and unintentional, of their decisions. They attend to the needs of others and reflect on past results to improve future performance. Some leaders become so thoughtful of others that they become paralyzed by indecision when faced with tough choices. It is likely that you came across a few overly thoughtful business owners or prospects or perhaps you even have them on your team.
Fortunately for Khan, he was rarely indecisive. Some might argue he was savage, brutal, or ruthless. Ruthless leaders have little concern for the effect of their decisions on others and install fear in those around them. Former Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and chef Gordon Ramsey are notorious for creating fear-based atmospheres.
What I find when working with leaders and business owners, they tend to gravitate towards thoughtful indecision or ruthless disregard. The reality is that the most effective leaders are ruthless in a thoughtful way. While I am not advocating waging war on or annihilating your competition, I am advocating making deliberate decisions and creating your business results by being thoughtfully ruthless with your time, energy, and resources.
How would you rate your leadership on a thoughtful to ruthless continuum? Download the assessment here.