Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Be Going Somewhere

This is the 7th and final in a series addressing the key elements of a leadership philosophy. I call them the “7 BEs of a Leader.” Before assuming a new leadership position, Army pre-command training includes time to create one’s personal leadership philosophy. This is a great exercise, one that I have done deliberately many times. I have found that articulating my beliefs, my core values, and what exactly makes me tick are critical elements to share with my subordinates. Doing so, from the beginning, eliminates uncertainty – with subordinates and those whom I serve (customers, stakeholders, etc.) - and helps define the culture and leadership climate that I seek to create. It, like me, is a work in progress. So let me know what you think.

Nothing makes a bigger difference in the life of a ship and her crew than a Captain who knows where he is going. So be going somewhere.

Successful leaders have personal and professional goals and daily take steps toward their achievement. They carefully craft a shared organizational vision, embraced by the team, and tell it over and over again – with passion, energy, and commitment.

This is what leadership is all about: knowing where you are going and inspiring others to go along with you. So figure out where that somewhere is and step out. Be bold, take risks, and give people something to get excited about. Look over the horizon and determine what it will take to sustain success. Then position your team and yourself accordingly.

John F. Kennedy said we were going to the moon. Then he led a nation to that end. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he had a dream. Then he sacrificed and inspired a generation. Ronald Reagan told the Soviets to tear down the wall. Steve Jobs said he’d change the way people listen to music. Leaders know where they are going. And then they roll up their sleeves and turn dreams into action.

Ask my kids what leaders do and she’ll tell you they “tell people to do stuff.” Leaders give regular guidance and direction – each an opportunity to align the team with the vision. Each decision is an opportunity to tell the team, “We can’t build this work of art, this company, this team, without you and your unique contributions. This is where we are going…will you go there with me?”

That’s what kind of leader I want to be. I want to always get better, to strive to be the best, to position my team for greatness now and into the future. I want to take the bold risk that excites people, that gets them out of bed in the morning ready to do something truly meaningful. I want to be going somewhere.

That’s my leadership philosophy. This is how I try to approach each new job, each opportunity to serve. These are my “7 BEs of a Leader:”

· Be Yourself
· Be Positive
· Be Mindful of Others
· Be Situationally Aware
· Be Your Best
· Be Fit
· Be Going Somewhere

Do you have a leadership philosophy? Have you written down those things that you believe and that define who you are as a leader? If not, take the time to do it now. Identify those things that characterize your belief system and shape your personal leadership style.

Where are you going? Who are you taking with you? A true leadership philosophy begins with vision and requires leaders of passion (be positive) who recognize the unique contributions of every team member (be yourself), who care genuinely for every teammate (be mindful of others), who have the sixth sense of situational awareness, who lead by example in lives and careers of balanced fitness and who truly aspire to greatness (be your best). Is that your vision for yourself and your organization? Does that sound like your leadership philosophy? It should. That’s Leader Business.

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