It’s a seldom discussed fact that Christopher Columbus nearly missed his chance to make the history books in his 1492 discovery of the “New World.” Had his ship sailed on yet one day longer without sighting land, they would have turned around and headed back to Spain on the 12th of October. The truth is, he had a slight followership problem to contend with—and his own deception nearly cost him historical immortality. Along the way, his crew had grown unruly and restless, which prompted him to start “cooking the books” and keeping a separate set of records: one for his eyes only and the other he shared with his crew.… Read the rest
“The single most important element of success in war is leadership.”
Gen David Goldfein, USAF
As a young officer our formal leadership training consisted largely of learning our military specialty and a few vague lessons about balancing “mission and people.” They were lessons born of, simultaneously, thousands of years of military tradition and 20th century industrial mass production. In fact, our leadership classes were called “management” classes–which brings me to my point. Twentieth Century management theory and practice has it’s place, but management is no substitute for leadership. We manage things and processes, but we lead people. In the modern military as in modern business, we require agility–and we achieve agility only through good leadership.… Read the rest
“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”
As individuals and figures of authority we know the value of following a moral compass. But what about an accountability compass?
Following one serves the same purpose as a regular compass. It helps us find our way and prevents us from getting lost.
An accountability compass has four directions. Up. Back. With. Aside. Its purpose is to help us understand at any given time which we’re headed in our accountability, up and into it or back and away from it!… Read the rest
Nothing is as strong as the heart of a volunteer.
There may be situations in military leadership where the leader must keep the team in the dark–but in 27 years service and commanding five units I’ve never found one. On the contrary, the question asked most often by military leaders and those they lead is, “Did you coordinate that?” You see, military operations are a team sport and our patience with people who act without considering the team is thin. We have to trust each other, and trust is built on mutual respect and transparency.
Military Teams Work In A Collective Environment
Keeping the team informed removes the leader as a single point of failure and takes advantage of the collective intelligence of the team.… Read the rest
Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a new “fish” in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets was I would never be a leader until I learned to follow first. Believe me, an Aggie Cadet follows like hell their first year. In addition to the academic demands of our coursework, we were required to join a club, and attend various sporting and University events.… Read the rest
From Our Early Files:
14 April 2013
“Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist.”
Mary Kay Ash
General John Handy, a 37-year Air Force veteran, shared the following story at a graduation of the Air Command and Staff College (an Air Force graduate school program) several years ago.
It was Friday afternoon and two college students from the University of Alabama were coming close to finishing finals week. Being good students who had already prepared for their final chemistry examination on Monday, they decided they wanted to celebrate a little early.… Read the rest
From Our Early Files:
15 February 2013
Everywhere you look today it seems as though many leaders are more intent abdicating responsibility than embracing it.
The recent political wrangling’s over our countries numerous fiscal challenges certainly seems to bear this out. Instead of rolling up their sleeves to fight the right fight, it seems scores of those we elect to represent our best interests prefer to protect their own ideologies or promote their own agendas. Perhaps this sad truth is why so many of us find ourselves hungry for a different kind of leadership. Specifically, leadership willing to risk doing the right thing, no matter the potential cost to self, in order to promote positive change in their surroundings.… Read the rest
“The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined. It has been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments. It has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life seemed easy and crises seemed far away…the decisions that, piece by piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness, habits of self-sacrifice or of self-indulgence, habits of duty and honor and integrity—or dishonor and shame.”
From Our Early Files:
13 Oct 2013
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
― Helen Keller
As we continue our journey exploring servant leadership, the third point, the letter “R” stands for right things, the right way, for the right reasons; integrity and character are at the core of every great leader. This is arguably the most important leadership characteristic, because this one focuses on a leader’s character, which is core to their leadership style.
Integrity and character are the absolute cornerstones of effective leadership.… Read the rest
“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.“
… Read the rest
How did you enjoy today’s post?
If you liked what you read, sign up for our frequent newsletter by clicking HERE — and you’ll also receive our handy Leader’s Reference List
From Our Early Files:
9 July 2013
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
I would like to follow up on John Michel’s outstanding blog from last month on “Heroes in Our Midst,” but take a different angle in doing so. Some of the key items he mentioned in the blog were: Leroy Peltry’s exploits in earning the Medal of Honor, serving as role models, and to leave your mark on scores of people. I would like to take the vantage point where we don’t realize how many of us are heroes and do not know it.… Read the rest
Integrity must be at the core of who we are as leaders if we’re to successfully inspire confidence in our teams. Because leadership is fundamentally about human relationships, integrity must be the very cornerstone of any leader’s foundation. In every aspect of our lives we depend on the integrity of others, and others do the same for us. We count on stores to give us fair prices, on students to do their own work, and athletes to play by the rules. That’s why it’s such a big deal when there is a breach of integrity like a public lie or the discovery someone we trust isn’t playing by the rules.… Read the rest
“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
In Part I of this series we discussed Integrity and the concept of being “whole” as a leader. In Part II we discussed Commitment and the importance of leaders being committed to others as too often we see leaders more committed to themselves than their teams or their customers (think Enron). As we said, Commitment should take many forms – commitment to your customers, to your employees, to your family, spouse, to doing the right thing, regardless of the cost – whatever your endeavor is…but commitment must be a part of your Leadership DNA.… Read the rest
Study leadership theory wherever you find it. Take pride in all we do…and do it well. Recognize those who do mundane tasks for your team. And yes, sometimes just dance like no one is watching…. And in fact, no one is really watching because they are all texting or tweeting on their smart phones.
As an old timer, gray beard, the study of leadership is more an avocation than a vocation.… Read the rest