What is the most important ability for a leader to have?
Is it communication skills? Conflict management? Team building? Vision casting and/or construction? Hard decisions? Fiscal responsibility? What about something as complex as succession?
All of these are important, even vital, but they are not the most important ability for a leader to have.
The most important ability for a leader to have is… availability.
I was reminded of this leadership truth in the May 5 edition of Sports Illustrated. In an article written by Brian Cazeneuve on professional hockey players playing through pain, I gleaned the following nine leadership lessons about available leaders:
1. Available leaders learn to pay a high price early in life.
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says, “Kids who play hockey grow up carrying their own bags. Their feet freeze. They’re not pampered. There’s no special treatment. They owe the game; the game owes them nothing.”
2. Available leaders understand there are times you have to pay a higher price than at other times.
Every church or business has busy seasons. You must pay a higher price during these times. Holland continues, “Two months of playoffs will age a player more than an 82-game regular season.”
3. Available leaders are willing to pay a physical price.
The world is run by tired leaders. Ryan Getzlaf, captain of the Anaheim Ducks, said after taking a puck to the face, “Once we established my jaw wasn’t broken—if it was set in place and everything was OK—then I was going to be able to go.”
4. Available leaders know which prcies are worth paying.
Some prices are worth paying while others are not. Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic said after slicing his foot, “It wasn’t so bad. A couple of stitches, but a long way from the heart.”
5. Available leaders have access to all their resources.
Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson said, “Sometimes I stop the puck with my face because it’s the playoffs.”