Today, I want to share a framework for thinking about personal development as a leader. It’s a “Lead, follow, or get out of the way” approach that shines the spotlight on the personal habits that grow leaders into a position of effectiveness. Here you go:
Take a look at your unit calendar. Scan the clutter of appointments, meetings, formations, training events, ceremonies, and administrative commitments. Do you see any events dedicated to improving the quality of your people’s leadership? If not…if leadership development isn’t a separate line of effort…then how are you developing leaders?
There are two types of people who will really like this post. First is the content producers (bloggers, website managers, writers), because I’m going to lay out some really geeky blog stuff. The other people who will enjoy this are those who want to peek behind the curtain of The Military Leader blog. This post is an inside look at everything that I invest and every step that I take to make The Military Leader what it is today. If you’re not a content producer, don’t worry. I’m going to give you a few takeaways right up front. Here we go!
When I read this leadership quote a few weeks ago, I kicked myself for not having found it sooner. (It’s the type of advice I’d put in my signature block…and I’m not even a “signature block philosophy” kind of emailer.) It is attributed to the immutably inspirational leader of the Allied coalition in World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. This insight is powerful because it captures the fundamental nature, the heart, of what it means to be a leader. And Eisenhower uses only 26 words to do it.
[Seated L-R: Gens. William Simpson, George Patton, Carl Spaatz, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Courtney Hodges, & Leonard Gerow
Standing L-R: Gens. Ralph Stearley, Hoyt Vandenberg, Walter Bedell Smith, Otto Weyland, & Richard Nugent.]
I was looking through my document archives the other day and thought this might be interesting. From time to time as a company commander, I’d send out emails on leadership, training, and the like. (I suppose they were an early version of what I’m contributing now on The Military Leader.) This excerpt is my take on how a leader’s behavior says something about his talent, his commitment, his success, and ultimately, the success of his team.
Great leaders always seem to embody two seemingly disparate qualities. They are both highly visionary and highly practical. Their vision enables them to see beyond the immediate. They can envision what’s coming and what must be done. Leaders possess and understanding of how:
- Mission provides purpose – answering the question, Why?
- Vision provides a picture – answering the question, What?
- Strategy provides a plan – answering the question, How?
– John C. Maxwell in the The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership