What does leadership have to do with archery? There are a lot of similarities, but mostly I want to use this analogy to show how leadership and archery are similar to help you remember some of the finer points of why we lead. Analogies are great because they offer us a good way to link something we can relate with to something else worth comparing for the sake of remembrance.
I have been slinging arrows since I was just a youngster. One might say I grew up with a bow in my hand but it wasn’t actually until I was nearing my teens that I picked up the sport. I started out in target archery then transitioned to bowhunting. Now I just love to shoot without any particular drive towards a certain arena.
An archer’s basic goal is to launch an arrow from a bow towards a target and hit the bullseye. There are a few dynamics at play during the whole process. On the surface it seems simple and there are so many great archers out there that make it look even easier. Here is why, and how you can apply it to leadership.
Basic Fundamentals Honed Individually
You have to start with the basics. Like in archery, leadership is a craft and no one person has jumped straight into mastery without first tackling the fundamentals. However, each archer and each leader will have honed their individual style which is carved from the basic fundamentals which makes them excellent in their own way.
A superb archer makes their craft look easy. Why is this? Practice of course. And so it goes for the leader. When we watch great leaders, we end up seeing what is honed from years of execution tangled with failure, success, disappointment, and victory. Great leaders have a lot of practice (uniquely coined as experience) not only in leading, but in following. Every great leader was at first a good follower.
Consistency is Key
In order for an archer to hit the same spot on the target after each shot, the execution from the foot placement to release has to be consistent every single time. Any deviation on the next shot from the previous one will likely result in a different score when the arrow finds it mark down range. As for the leader, one of the keys to authenticity is consistency. This is not to say that in order to be effective, a leader must do the same exact thing under every situation, but there is no need to reinvent the wheel. You do have to modify it and make it your own.
Great Archers Do Not Operate Within a Vacuum
If you’ve been reading these posts for a while, this sounds familiar to you. I am no Olympic archer by any means, nor am I even a local league legend. Needless to say, I would not have been able to accomplish or learn some of the finer points of archery without a team of advisors. These are my friends, coaches, and mentors. People within my circle that are approachable and passionate about helping me to succeed. The leader should not be without these either. Everyone needs a support group and someone they can turn to for assistance.
Reaching the Mark
The archer’s goal is to launch an arrow towards the bullseye. The leaders goal is to influence those around them, encouraging them to move towards their individual goals, dreams, aspirations, and desires to help them hit the mark. This is the very core of personal and effective leadership, and it is so important.
You can turn around the majority of these and apply them to your own craft then apply it to your way of leading. I encourage you to do so, and please share with us in the comments which that might be. I look forward to hearing more from you on this.