Leadership is a journey, and in my case, it was a path illuminated by the wisdom of my father.
His teachings have guided my understanding of what it means to be a leader.
Today, I want to share some of those insights with you.
Leaders Lead Through Action
Dad always said, “Leadership isn’t about just delegating tasks; it’s about getting your hands dirty and showing your team how it’s done.” His belief was that leaders should visibly outwork their teams, not merely equal them. This doesn’t mean doing all the work yourself, but setting an example of dedication, commitment, and hard work.
Leaders as Protectors
My father often emphasized the role of a leader as the protector of their team. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create a safe and supportive environment where your team members can take risks, make mistakes, and grow.
Empower Your Team
“Put your team in a position to excel,” he’d often say. As a leader, your role is to identify the strengths of your team members and delegate tasks that align with those strengths. This not only increases efficiency but also builds confidence and motivation within your team.
Inconvenience Vs. Problem
One thing he always emphasized was understanding the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. Not every obstacle is a catastrophe. Discerning between minor hiccups and genuine issues is a critical leadership skill.
Cultivate Critical Thinking
“Critical thinking is a muscle,” he’d remind me, “and if you don’t exercise it, it will atrophy.” Leaders need to continually challenge their assumptions, question their decisions, and invite different perspectives.
Study the Opposition and Past Leaders
Dad was a firm believer in learning from both the opposition and past leaders. He understood that valuable lessons could be gleaned from understanding different strategies and philosophies.
Beware of Disinformation
“Just because they are doing something doesn’t mean it’s working,” was his take on copying competitors. It was his way of warning me against the danger of disinformation and the importance of verifying the effectiveness of a tactic before adopting it.
Adaptability is Key
He once shared a story about a Marine Battalion Commander who brought him in to solve a problem. The solution wasn’t working, so they had to change tactics. His lesson? If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to switch up your approach completely.
Training is Essential
“You can only operate like how you train,” he’d tell me. This reinforced the importance of consistent and realistic training in performing effectively when it counts.
According to my father, command presence sets the tone for the organizational climate. It’s how leaders present themselves, how they communicate, and how they engage with their team.
Reconnaissance and Intelligence Gathering
Dad emphasized the importance of gathering information, understanding the landscape, and making informed decisions based on that knowledge.
The Operations Process
Finally, he highlighted the operations process: Plan, Prepare, Execute, and Advance. This cycle is a constant process of growth and improvement.
These lessons from my father have shaped my understanding of leadership. Leadership is not a title or a position; it’s a responsibility, a dedication, and a continuous learning process.
It’s about leading by example, protecting and empowering your team, understanding the difference between inconvenience and problem, cultivating critical thinking, and being adaptable.
It’s about setting the tone for your organization, gathering intelligence, planning, preparing, executing, and advancing. And it’s about being a person who others want to follow.
As we move forward in our leadership journeys, let us remember these valuable lessons and strive to apply them in our daily lives.
My father’s wisdom reminds us that being a leader is much more than just being in charge – it’s about making a positive impact on the people and the world around us.