Starting off on my leadership development as a young 18-year-old soldier in 1978 a Company Sergeant Major (CSM) asked me (well probably screamed at me) “Why would anybody want to be led by you Sheehan”
The CSM then said, once you think you have the answer think about “Leadership is NOT ABOUT you it’s ALL ABOUT you” then come back to me and tell me why you are the right person to “SERVE TO LEAD” the best soldiers in the world. If you are reading this article can you respond to the above?
I went away and researched leadership and I soon realised that everything I needed to know about leadership had already been said and documented many years ago. My observations were that I just had to listen to what had been said, identify and simplify what I needed to do as a leader in order I could SERVE TO LEAD the best soldiers in the world.
I went back to the CSM and said it was clear to me that if I wanted to be the best leader I could possibly be I had to truly believe that “Leadership is having the ability to influence the thoughts, the feelings, the motions and the actions of other human beings”, the CSM smiled and said “you have got it”. I honestly believe that this simple message is so important for all leaders, no matter what line of work you are in during the Phase 2 of the COVID War.
In the military we had a true belief that, Leadership is simple, it is not easy, but it is simple. In this modern-day world of work, I believe that many people keep looking for new ways of leadership and come up with what they think are new ways but which is just rebranding what has already been documented 1000s of years ago, rather than bringing more simplicity into a complicated world of work, it brings more complexity and bureaucracy.
DOING MORE DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER LEADER
I am proud to say, I served 5 years of my 27 years military service at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) training potential Officers of the armed forces in Leadership. One of many messages was that getting better does not mean doing more, it is about identifying and managing the risk, simplifying the message and being smart about possible solutions. In other words, leaders must have the ability to plan better, manage smarter and clearly communicate simply what is required to be achieved by their teams.
Leaders need to have the confidence and courage in saying doing less is better, common sense and proportionality will win over the hearts and minds of your workers which it is your duty to SERVE TO LEAD which is non-negotiable for any leader.
Many people have asked me “how do the military get the leadership right” (some leaders did not get it right by the way). The military’s belief is that the essence of leadership is simply TRUST and putting human beings in the best possible environment to achieve a purpose they believe in.
As Leaders you get more back when you give TRUST, good leaders are leaders who are trusted by their teams, people look to you and trust you because you are serving selflessly as a leader, not self-serving. We believed in and worked hard on the below:
- Serve to lead – Non-negotiable
- Plan better
- Manage Smarter
As leaders you have to fully prepare your teams, train them, you give them what they need to carry out their task, don’t give them a task if you don’t give them the resources, tools, time and support to do the task, unless you are prepared as a leader to stand shoulder to shoulder with your team and take that risk and accountability with them.
Have a clear PURPOSE, (this defines your WHY) for your organisation / teams. No matter how many people you lead you have to have a sense of purpose. The best leaders I know and served with are the ones that had the ability to communicate this purpose (WHY) down to everyone in their team and organisation. Focus on giving clear simple direction, put in the full supportive structure for your team to deliver the direction, allow your teams to deliver.
Look after your workers they will get the work done for you. Train them, give them the skills and knowledge to do the work, ensure they have the right equipment they need, make sure they are ready for the work they have to complete. If you are a true leader you will put your team first to ensure that they have what they need, and you must ensure you will never look away or walk away from those needs. SERVE TO LEAD.
As Leaders make sure you respect and praise your workers when they do good work, it is not about pay rise or promotion it is as simple as look them in the eye and say thank you. Leadership is about inspiring people to perform to a higher level.
As a leader you must be ready to discipline people if they are not delivering to the standard required. Do not look the other way or pass the work to another team member. Your good team members are waiting and watching you to do something about it. Be realistic and deal with the problem straight away, if it means hurting some one’s feelings for the benefit of the organisation you must train and prepare yourself to do that.
Leadership is about human interaction, (not technical ability), having the ability to put a group of people into an environment which they feel safe, getting them to believe they want to do what you need to be done. Your teams believe you and trust you and you believe in them, you are going to support them, and you are in it together. It is about you and the people you lead
To be successful in phase 2 of the COVID War, I believe that effective leadership requires an understanding of the leadership principles and a desire to change your own behaviour. If you don’t understand the principles of leadership, you’ll struggle to know how and when to behave in various circumstances during this unprecedented time.Leadership = Strength = Empathy and every leader can vastly improve their powers of leadership, with a lot more thought, planning and preparation.
If you really want to be the leader you want to be, you must continually reflect and ask yourself:
- Why would someone want to be led by you?
- Leadership is NOT ABOUT you it is ALL ABOUT you (Have you worked this out?)
- Leadership is having the ability to influence the thoughts, the feelings, the motions, and the actions of other human beings
If you want the truth about the above, ask your teams what they think about you as a leader, they give you permission to lead.
If this has ignited a passion for leadership, why not check out our leadership development, or contact me for more details of bespoke training packages.