Leadership: Why Not You?
Leadership is a topic that has been written on and talked about incessantly, and understandably so. It is an aspect of your job, athletic career, or family life than can lead to increased income, a more joyful life, or the quality and/or efficiency of your work. The bottom line is, leadership matters. While some leaders are inherently born with traits that make them better suited for leadership positions than others, there are still simple principles that anyone, at any level or position, can follow to make them a finer teammate or boss. These simple principles I will discuss have been garnered from years of leadership positions from being a team captain in high school and college, becoming an Officer in the United States Army, to in depth reading on this subject. These principles are not something I created but things I have learned from others and implemented with success in my daily life.
1. To Be A Great Leader You Must Know How To Follow- But how can you follow if you’re already in a leadership position? Well the reality is every leader has a boss/supervisor at some level. The humility gained from being a selfless servant is invaluable and will pay dividends when you are promoted and tasked with asking your subordinates to complete hard tasks. A wise Army General once told me “I will never ask a subordinate to do something I have not done or would not do with them”. This tenant creates authenticity and shows those beneath you that you have figurative walked a mile in their shoes.
2. People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care- This is a very old saying that so many people just cannot seem to grasp. We are all intrinsically self-motivated. People will only do so much work before they stop to ask themselves “What am I gaining from this”. When they have a leader they trust has their best interest in mind there is no limit to the things that can be accomplished. As a leader it is your job to provide the “why” to the tasks you are asking your subordinates to complete. There is not always time to stop and explain the reason for doing things, but overall you have to show them that there is a method to your madness and how it will benefit them in the short/long term. Many leaders I have known get to know those they’re in charge of on a surface level, but they are not willing to sacrifice much to really win them over. The depths you’re willing to go to to serve those in your charge will exponentially increase the lengths those same individuals will be willing to go to serve you.
3. A Great Idea Can Come From Anyone/Anywhere- This principle ties into the humility mentioned in the first principle. In the Army I can honestly say that some of the best and most efficient practices I have adopted were ideas from the most junior ranking Soldiers. These are the individuals that are the most impacted by the decisions and so they have a vested interest in the decision making process. All too often we shut people out because they don’t have enough job/life experience so how can they possibly be able to help? It is our job to LISTEN to our subordinates. It costs a leader nothing other than their time. Whether you implement what was talked about or not is a different story, but you should at least provide opportunities to hear the people at the lowest level.
4. When the people around you succeed give them the credit. If they fail, take the blame. That’s what true leadership is.
“Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader. They set out to make a difference. It’s never about the role, always about the goal.”