Principles of Leadership
- Set the example. Values are caught, not taught.
This is the most important leadership principle I ever learned
in the Corps: Lead by example. Don't tell your people
them. If you want them to work late on a project at the office,
you'd better get there before them and leave after them if you
want their respect. Don't tell them to abide by the rules while
you violate them, or tell your kids not to drink or smoke if you
do. Don't expect people to dress, speak or write well, if you
don't. You must earn the right to lead-and that's through example.
- Be technically and tactically proficient. As
a leader, you must know how to do your job well. You must be competent
to earn the respect of your people. As a leader, you must also
keep up with knowledge. You must become a lifelong learner to
ensure that you are a knowledgeable leader. Our knowledge base
is expanding exponentially, and leaders who get left behind fail
their people. Keep going to school, reading and soaking up new
tools of technology wherever and whenever you can.
- Know yourself and seek self improvement.This means
being honest with yourself. You can't be great
at all things. Know where your strengths and weaknesses lie and
work with them, share them and seek out complementary personalities
when making decisions so that you strike a balance. Look for help
where you're weak and help others who need your strengths. Leadership
is about knowing and admitting you need help, as well as giving
help freely. Learn from others and teach others.
- Know your people and look out for their welfare.
Leadership is knowing about and caring for your people.
People are all different, and you need to learn their
differences and work with them. Learn what motivates them, their
strengths, and their weaknesses. People who work for you know
whether you care about them based on how you treat them. Treat
them the way you like to be treated
the simple golden rule.
- Keep your people informed. Communication ensures
knowledge and both are key to a smooth functioning team. If people
don't know what's going on, they invent rumors to fill the communication
void. Often those rumors hurt rather than help organizations.
Stop the cancer of rumors by letting your troops know what's going
on. Send notes, post information on bulletin boards, e-mail
ability to communicate quickly and well is widened today by technology.
- Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished.
Telling your people to get something done does not ensure it ever
will. First you have to articulate what you want done. That means
knowing what you want. This sounds simpler than it is. Next, you
must sell the importance of the task to your people. Ordering
or telling (in business) only goes so far. If people don't buy
in with their hearts and minds, what you get is malicious obedience-doing
what they're told and hoping for failure. Give people a reasonable
time to accomplish the task and then check on it. Complement when
it gets done well or counsel until it does get done correctly.
- Train your people as a team. As a leader, you
are a teacher. You must not only keep yourself current in your
field, but you must train your people as well. Train as a team
on projects rooted in your business; you'll see demonstrable results.
An old Sergeant Major once told me, "You only do in a game what you
did in practice." So practice-practice as a team. Nothing
is better than a team tackling a common problem with Esprit
the spirit of the group. And, there's nothing
like the feeling of a team reaching a tough goal together.
- Make sound and timely decisions. Sound decisions
are born out of good information and counsel. Read, research,
study before you decide-do your own homework. Look at what others
have done-benchmarking. Read the research-don't reinvent the wheel.
Next, try to make timely decisions. Sometimes you'll have little
time and must rely on your instincts. But remember that if you
put off a decision too long, you are still making a decision
- Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.
Delegate a task and get out of the way. Oversupervising people
annoys them and takes up too much of your time. Empower people
by giving them rights and responsibilities. With every freedom
we have, there is a corresponding responsibility. We have freedom
of speech, but the responsibility not to slander another. When
leading troops, give them the freedom to solve problems and the
responsibility to live with the results.
- Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities.
Know your peoples' capabilities and work within that framework.
Business has learned that to be successful, you must focus on
what you do well, rather than trying to do everything. It's also
called finding your market niche. You will never be able to be
all things to all people; so don't try. Just do what you do-and
do it well.
- Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your
actions. No one ever became a leader by shying away from
responsibility. The old saying, "never volunteer," should
be: "Always volunteer-if you want to grow." To get to
a new job, you have to show that you can handle it. That often
means extending your responsibilities-stretching yourself. Volunteer
to help out on projects and teams and I guarantee you'll be better
off for the experience.
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