In this week's training, we are talking about how to become a better leader.
In business, and in life, many times it's easy to become a manager. A person that is able to take a blob of stuff and make sure that it is managed and accomplished.
But in all of that doing, and hustle, and bustle, we sometimes miss a little bit of the essence of why it is that we're doing what we're doing. Where are we going? In what direction are we heading, and not only for ourselves but also for the people that's around us in the business and in our families.
And that's when leadership comes in.
I love the topic of leadership because I was in the Marine Corps for nearly 20 years. I started out my life in the Marines as an E-1 Private First Class, which is the lowest rank you can come in to the Service. I was initially an aircraft mechanic. I was fixing airplanes for several years, and I worked my way up to a certain point where I had an opportunity to fulfill a bigger dream I had to become a fighter pilot. The Marine Corps gave me a great opportunity to fulfill my bigger dream of becoming a fighter pilot and I did that for the second half of my career.
Leadership has been in my blood for decades as I’ve had to practice it, exercise it, judge it while leading people in combat and leading them in peace time.
You're probably asking yourself, “Why are you teaching me a lesson from the military?” Well, because the Marine Corps as an organization is considered to be one of the top leadership schools in the world. Today I want to share with you 3 principles of leadership from the Marines.
#1: KNOW YOURSELF AND SEEK SELF-IMPROVEMENT. Knowing oneself is all about assessing our capabilities, knowing what our limitations are, and knowing how much we can push ourselves, and others. In becoming more self-aware in this regard, one is able to bridge the gap between our capabilities, our vision, and our dreams. When you know yourself, you can bridge that gap using the resources available to get you to the place you’re striving for.
#2a: KNOW YOUR PEOPLE, LOOK OUT FOR THEIR WELFARE, AND KEEP THEM INFORMED. The important point here is to look out for the welfare, their heart, spirit, and the life conditions of your employees, your contractors, and yourself. In other words, how are they doing in the grand scheme of things? How do they fit into the company? Are they appropriate for the task, or are they over-saturated? Because it's easy to look at a project management checklist or a performance review report and conclude that an employee is not doing his or her best, it's easy to just leave it at that… sometimes we even believe that employee is not good enough, and that we need to let them go.
A better approach would be to put on your leader hat and look a little deeper into the situation. Look out for that person's welfare… What are they dealing with? What are their living conditions? Is the money they're making enough to sustain them? And if it's not, how can you help them? Either they need a raise (an opportunity for you to assess how are you financially-rewarding your associates), or maybe you can help them gain a different perspective on other healthy activities that can help supplement their incomes.
#2b: KEEP THEM INFORMED. I once read about a military general back in WWII that had said that one of the most difficult things to do in any military service across the globe is to keep a soldier informed. There are so many things happening simultaneously, and things are changing so fast on a battlefield, that it's really tough to keep everyone informed about what's happening at any given time. This is especially true in small business. Because maybe you are running the company “alone and unafraid,” and there's no mid-level office manager or executive assistant to run the daily operations of your company… Essentially that leaves everyone looking to you to stay informed and to make all the decisions. It’s easy to get busy and wrapped up in managing that we forget to keep our people informed.
#3: DEVELOP A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY AMONG YOUR SUBORDINATES. You might be thinking to yourself, “My employees and contractors know what they're doing because their duties and responsibilities were laid out in their job descriptions.” You might also be saying to yourself, “They've got their stations, and their cubicles, and those people were hired for that specific job, and that's what they're doing.” I say, that's great… But to take it a step beyond, and to help you liberate yourself from some of the stress of running all aspects of the business, you need develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates. And I don't mean responsibility in the sense of, “Well you have to do it because it's your job.” What I’m referring to is allowing people to take ownership of their part of the business. Give them the guidance, give them the vision, give them the tools, paint the box for them, set their framework, and let them fly.
We need to develop that sense of responsibility immediately upon hiring, or right now. These positive changes could even help the quietest person in your company. When you implement what we're teaching here, you'll see that in a not-so-distant future that quiet employee might bring about the best kind of idea that could make you tons of money, give you more time, expand your market, save you money, and could even uncover a safety issue that could’ve been catastrophic for your business.
So there you have it… Three leadership tips I have for you from the Marine Corps to small business.
I’m bringing this topic to you today because I've been observant of small business leadership lately, and it's disconcerting. Just like I had mentioned in the beginning where we get stuck in the “doing” and in the managing of tasks, and forgetting about people, as leaders it is our duty to help our employees, subordinates, contractors, virtual assistants, and everyone that works around us, to ensure that the conditions are right for them to thrive and flourish. I believe these duties and responsibilities rest solely upon you as a leader with the vision for your business.
So that my friends is how you become a better leader.
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