We live in a jaded world when it comes to leadership.
Someone might give incredible advice on leadership or recite maxims on how to enable employees. But the real test is practice. That same person might fail horribly to lead even by the most fundamental measures.
Too many people in significant leadership roles from Army generals and government officials to CEOs and non-profit executives have talked a big leadership “game” only to have their own behavior fall woefully short of even basic expectations.
Those who truly care about leading utilize humility and compassion. Strong leaders focus on results and possess the mind of a teacher and a lack of fear to enact difficult decisions. They are dedicated to promoting the team’s results over their own career aspirations.
Here are seven leadership exercises to live by to develop people for more and greater challenges.
Lead Without Fear
In my days training in the U.S. Army, we were punished for being afraid and not taking decisive action. Leaders that live in fear of failure paralyze not only themselves, but their entire team.
Fear is the key element that destroys organizations, initiatives, and people.
Team’s that are afraid will not act, will not innovate, and will not learn because they are terrified of failure. Leaders work themselves and their teams’ through fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of competition. Fear of failure.
Success comes when these are discarded, and the potential for success is embraced.
Lead with Humility
Humility is the constant and consistent recognition that you do not have all the information, insight, and background to solve every problem of the organization on your own.
The choice a leader makes on how to handle mistakes in front of their team is a key exercise for a leader.
A leader that acknowledges mistakes, and learns from mistakes in front of a group, is a sign of humility, honesty, and fearlessness. It enables an organization to move toward success.
Lead with Proof
Evidence-based leaders drive commitment because they are honest, open, and clear when it comes to the results they want to achieve. They are also clear on the manner of which those achievements will be calculated.
Leaders who lead with proof are more open to initiative. If someone finds a new technique to improve a process, for example, the worth of their efforts is in the evidence.
Lead to Create
Past or prospective failure paired with clouds of indecision stifles success.
A focus on creation drives leaders to locate problems and then propose and test solutions. The creative process finds success in people, concepts, and innovation.
Creativity is an action that choses resolute stages versus perfect analysis and ineffectual activities.
Lead to Change
Change ensures a company can continue to successfully execute its primary purpose.
Leading to change is the process to align the businesses purpose with new requirements, consumer demands, competitive factors, cost factors, employee talent, and cultural issues.
Lead Each Person
A leader reaches and interacts with each team member according to their styles. This helps create an environment where all team members feel essential, critical, and valued. All of these qualities are needed to achieve the organization’s goals.
People are unique, not material to be placed in a leadership “machine.”
Lead for Today
Leading for today also drives you to be an immediate problem solver. When a leader recognizes they may not be present tomorrow, it frees them to enable, teach, and drive their team to reach what is possible today.
Chad Storlie is a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer and an adjunct professor of marketing at Flagler College. He is a mid-level B2B marketing executive and a widely published author on leadership, business, military and technology topics. His work can be seen at www.CombatToCorporate.com.