If you are lucky enough to lead a team, you hold a special responsibility. Decisions can no longer be made in your sole best interest. You have others to think about, people whose very livelihood depends on your actions.
This means that while you shouldn’t take yourself seriously, you must take the job seriously. You can’t be in a wait and see mode. You must engage - you owe it to your people to believe in the mission. After all, if you don’t believe in what you’re doing and the team’s ability to get there, why should they?
Decide to do right by your people. Decide to show up. Decide to have the hard conversations, and decide to model the right behavior. Along the way, hold yourself to the the highest possible standard. No one wins if the leader coasts.
How will you know if you’re a good leader? Simple, you and your team will be getting the job done well -not just once, but over and over again. Consistent high level delivery is the hallmark of a good leader. If you need the wind at your back or the perfect team on your side, then you’ve got more work to do. Talent and situation will change - great leaders adapt and find a way win.
There is a sign that hangs above the Navy Seal’s training barracks in San Diego - it says “The enemy thanks you for not giving 100% today.” In our world, the enemy is who you were yesterday. The discipline to improve starts with ourselves, and the hardest work is always inner work.
Over the course of this short series on leadership we’ve covered a lot of ground.
In Own The Adversity we learned to face challenges with ownership instead of blame.
In Bias Towards Action we are reminded that problems won’t solve themselves - we must act.
In Serve the Mission we discussed why a clear, simple mission is a prerequisite for team success.
In Better Every Day we recall that we must make time for training ourselves and the team.
In Invest in Relationships we are reminded that people are how work gets done, and trust is the fuel of cooperation.
In Believe, we learned this is all a decision. We must decide to step in the ring fully or not at all.
Leadership may sound intimidating and you may not feel up for it, but there is good news. This is all learned behavior - no one woke up a leader. So it’s ok if you don’t feel you’re there - if you don’t have it all figured out. I know I don’t.
I fail at these principles constantly, but keeping them in mind lets me know what I’m aiming for - where I want to go. As long as we can dust ourselves off, and keep crawling towards being a better leader tomorrow, that’s progress, and a future worth working towards.
At work and in life, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate. Make the decision to lead, today and in the future.
Articles in the Series