Colonel Chris P. Levy shares that a good leader is like the fireman on a steam locomotive. If the team needs to work harder due to an impending challenge, the leader can pour on the coal to increase output. Once the challenge is overcome, the leader can reduce the fire to give the team a much-needed break. The key is finding that balance between the two extremes. Determining the appropriate balance to obtain the maximum performance from your team while keeping them motivated, energized and ready for the next challenge is the key to excellent leadership.… Read the rest
Picture a giant ocean-going vessel…it can help people accomplish amazing amounts of work in a single voyage. It can seem powerful, unstoppable, never tiring as it moves cargo in dogged pursuit of its goal. In calm water, the ship can be run at high speed, covering hundreds of miles every day. However, when you turn around and look behind the ship…the calm water is turned into a hissing froth of bubbles, waves, ripples and even debris. What was calm is now in chaos. … Read the rest
Balanced leadership requires continuous, delicate adjustments to maintain homeostasis in your organization. Balance is stressed in every aspect of our lives — from learning to ride a bike to eating a balanced diet. It should be no different in leading an organization. We’ve all worked for a person who had no life outside of his job. At the office by 6 am, never home before 10 pm. Working those hours is a personal choice, but a leader must be cognizant that his choices affect the lives of everyone in the organization.… Read the rest
You can learn almost as much about leadership from losers as you can from heroes. After 26 years of service with the Air Force, I have seen my share of both. I have had the honor of serving with superior commanders whom I would follow through the gates of Hell and the misfortune to suffer losers who stumbled blindly into a leadership position. Surprisingly, from both I have learned much about leadership.
A true student of leadership is always studying his leaders for good habits to emulate and bad habits to avoid.… Read the rest
In my mind, I was the best fighter pilot in the world, but as soon as I took command that no longer mattered. I was in charge of an unfamiliar organization, one in whose mission I was not well versed. It felt as if I was blindfolded and led to the helm of the Titanic; left there with a hearty, “She’s all yours!” I was in charge but not really sure which way to steer. Rather than flying F-15s, I was in charge of flight simulators, contract negotiations and syllabus development.… Read the rest
“The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.”
I grew up playing the violin in an orchestra. As a young man, I didn’t fully appreciate how important the conductor’s role was towards conducting a successful concert. My friends and I were doing all the heavy lifting of learning the music and playing the notes. The conductor just stood up there and waved a baton around, how hard could conducting be?
An orchestra is a great example of a team where all members must both do their individual jobs and work together to achieve a common goal. … Read the rest