This article is Part 2 of a 3-part series by Colonel Albers on traits that can make or break a leader
Steadfastness During Trials
In the first part of this series we looked at humility – and how true humility is a critical trait that involves right thinking about oneself. Not more and not less. In this part we want to examine how important steadfastness is for the leader and for their team.
No matter your leadership role steadfastness is a bedrock trait to develop and sustain. Steadfastness can and does relate to simple consistency in our leadership actions that provides stability and predictability to our teams day to day. Here, however, I want to focus on how steadfast we are as leaders during trials. Lots of people can lead when things are good – great leaders lead well and are steadfast through times of trial and uncertainty…if you are reading this blog I believe you want to be a great leader.
Trials come in all shapes and sizes don’t they? For the leader in a combat situation or law enforcement some trials can be life threatening. The majority of the time and for the rest of us not in combat or in law-enforcement/fire protection – they probably aren’t life-threatening but they can carry significant consequences if the leader doesn’t cultivate the character trait of steadfastness in themselves and demonstrate it to his/her followers.
“Morale is a state of mind. It is steadfastness, courage, and hope. It is confidence and zeal, and loyalty. It is elan, espirit de corps, and determination.”
George C. Marshall
What does steadfastness look like in your day-to-day leadership actions? Do you know what causes fear to dwell in you? Is it dealing with bad news for the company or your division? Is it in knowing you have to face a difficult personnel situation? Facing a disgruntled customer and working to resolve their issue? Where does uncertainty reign in your team? What causes them to become ineffective? That is where steadfastness is required of you as a leader – but why? The main reason, in my opinion, is that faced with fear or deep uncertainty people tend to focus on their circumstances rather than the tasks at hand. This leads to incapacity at some level and a failure to act. Inaction is the bane to our existence. Ponder the George Marshall quote – our own morale is important and so is that of our team.
We know that people look to others to gauge how they should react. Children look to parents when fear first strikes or they sense uncertainty creeping inside themselves, troops look to the officer when things appear bad, team members look to their appointed leader or more often the natural leader to help them gauge what their response should be when a situation appears to be less than good. If they see fear or concern in the face of the parent, officer, or team lead then they will allow that emotion to impact them – and the result is a loss in team effectiveness at a minimum and can be disastrous at it’s extreme.
As we discussed in the article on humility – it is critical for the leader to know themselves. We need to know what causes fear to rise up in us. How do you overcome fear and remain steadfast in your daily leadership actions? I believe the first step is to learn to control your own emotions – it is then that you can see things clearly, think through what needs to be done, and present coherent and comforting leadership to the team. This sets them free to overcome the trial and achieve the desired results. What else do you do to maintain steadfastness? Think about it and cultivate it…then get out and lead!