finishing well great leader

Finishing Well: A Mark of a Great Leader

Note: The past few months I have been wrestling with huge life transitions. I handled some battles well. Other struggles kicked my butt. This is a re-write of an article I wrote on May 14, 2006. I hope helps you (and me) when facing inevitable future life shifts. Keep your head up. Blessings!

OK, so for those of you who don’t know me, I am a West Wing nut. Politics aside, it is a beautiful display of teamwork, leadership and group dynamics. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve watched the entire series (7 seasons and 150+ episodes) at least 3 times. Arghh… The show is a work of art. Writers, producers, directors and casting totally knocked it out of the park!! So, now it is over. And it was worth every minute of my bottom plopped on the couch in front of the tube!

The series finale was last night. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed in the wrap-up. How could a show that has given so much end with such blah? Major characters did not even have appearances in the finale! What!?!

It should have been a two hour special with a riveting storyline that left the biggest fan with a sense of ultimate satisfaction. Instead, it was one hour of less than stellar writing and directing that made my stomach drop turn as I thought about what could have been.

I’ll try to make the best of it and use it as a lesson on INFLUENCE.


It’s key to good leadership and inherent in great leaders.

Any professional, from actor to attorney to musician to preacher will tell you that a project is most successful and makes the most penetrating impact when the first couple minutes and the last couple minutes are done well.

Great influencers don’t just work hard on the beginning, they finish even stronger.

Why Do Great Leaders Finish Well?

Great leaders are not worried about their own transition or wrap up as much as they are concerned about how their final performance will affect the overall organization or project.

In other words, they care less about themselves and more about the well-being of the organization or project! It just makes sense.

They are not influencers for leadership sake, they are leaders for people’s sake!


Maybe you remember Derek Redmond’s story at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Derek was predicted to win a gold medal in the 400-meter race. In the semi-finals, just past the 250-meter mark he suffered a career-ending pulled hamstring.

Although he could have called it quits right then, he forced himself back up to his feet and hobbled on one leg to try to finish the race.

His dad came bolting out of the stands, pushing away security, and grabbed his son. Mr. Redmond wrapped Dereks arm around his shoulder, and helped him finish a race that would become his last.

And for no other reason than to comlpete with class and determination what he had begun!

Five Steps to Finishing Well

  • Remember Why You Started in the First Place. We never start a venture planning to fail and we shouldn’t end that way.
  • Face Pain with a Greater Resolve. Let your detrmination to lead well overshadow your temptation to hide under a rock.
  • Determine to Do Things as Right as You Possibly Can. Sometimes it’s about choosing the lesser evil. Choose well!
  • Don’t Ever Let Anyone Put You on the Mat. Hurting people hurt people! Know that what they are doing to you is the result of their own pain. Try to love them through it.
  • Profusely Thank the People Who Helped You Along the Way. Someone sacrificed for your success (and failure.)
  • Celebrate the Victories. Even if it feels like the end was a failure, there were personal and most likely corporate victories throughout the journey. Speak of them often and with a smile on your face.

Influencers Take Note and Finish Well

At whatever place you have been honored to lead others, please follow the lead of Derek Redmond. When you are coming to the end of the road for your role as an influencer, don’t drop to the ground and call it quits. Push through to the end and make a real difference in those around you.

Comment below to tell me a story of a great influencer in your life. Let me know about someone who finished well and I’ll feature them as an update in this article!

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