Back to Leadership Basics

The great Vince Lombardi

With this new blog edition, I want to change gears a bit and  spend some time talking about another one of my favorite subjects … LEADERSHIP.

When I was beginning to develop my blog site almost a year  ago, it was suggested that I focus on emergency management and business continuity topics and stay away from “leadership” since it can sometimes be a vague topic.  While I agree somewhat with that perception, I am a believer that the business continuity and emergency management professions, and our country at large, is in dire need of sound leadership.  Each one of us can be a leader!  I also believe that  if we don’t think things are right, we have an obligation to contribute something to make things better.  You can’t simply complain and not do something, right?    So my contribution is to use my blog, as well as other media and speaking engagements, to bring issues to the forefront and stimulate discussion about business continuity, emergency management, and LEADERSHIP.   My hope is that the discussions we share will ultimately lead to positive action (or reaction) that will help us become better prepared leaders and subsequently the teams we lead to become happier, more prepared, and more productive.

Today, thanks to technology, it seems as though we are driven to find ways do things faster, cheaper, and quite honestly easier.  A good example is “apps”.  Those little applications people search for to use with their smart phones.  With our growing use (reliance perhaps) on smart phones, there seems to be a plethora of “apps” for just about anything including leadership.   Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m all for technology.  I enjoy technology, to a point.  And I’m thankful that people much smarter than me have created the technology capabilities we rely on today.  But I also feel that there are times that it’s important to set technology aside and get back to basics.  Some might call it the “old-fashioned way”.  Today, I think we are at a point that we need to return back to some old-fashioned leadership basics.  Those basics relate to how we, as leaders, relate to the people we lead.  After all, leadership is grounded in relationships.  Without a sound foundation in place, no app in the world is going to make things faster, cheaper, easier, or better.

Compassionate

First, good leaders are compassionate.  I think this is one area that many of today’s so-called leaders miss.  Maybe it’s because they are “too busy”.  Many seem to be over-booked with meetings and commitments.  Many talk about their multi-tasking capability, which we now know just doesn’t ring true.  We’ve allowed ourselves to become so busy, we no longer have time to be compassionate to others.  What a shame.

We must remember that when we lead, we lead people, not inanimate objects or administrative processes.  As leaders, we want our people to take action that in turn fulfills the vision and objective we’ve put in place.  We need to consider that people will be more willing to follow leaders that they feel demonstrates compassion toward them and the work they do.

Good leaders take an active interest in the people who work for them.  They make a concerted effort to know their subordinates and they let their subordinates know them.  If you haven’t taken the time to really get to know the members of your team, then you need to schedule time for an informal, relaxed, discussion with everyone on your team.  Use the time to get to know them and open yourself up to allow them to know you.  Make sure that during this discussion you help them to understand how important their job is to the overall success of the team, the organization, and the company.

Compassion also relates to how well we provide honest feedback to our teams with respect to how well they are performing.  Being compassionate means taking an interest in the well-being of others.  That in turn means being willing to offer sincere and honest feedback.

Passionate

Second, leaders have to be passionate.  They have to be excited about what they do.  Leaders orchestrate their teams and the work they do.  Leaders must display their excitement each and every day.  The excitement they display is contagious among their teams.  Overtime, the team begins to display passion like the leader, which in turn reflects positively on their performance of their tasks, even when challenges get in the way.

Start each day by spending a few quite moments contemplating your position in life and your career.  Appreciate your great fortune.  Be thankful for the opportunities you have.

Committed

Third, a leader must be committed.  There will always be challenges and the leader won’t always be successful.  However, real leaders are committed.  They commit to many things including the organization, the project, and the team.

Sometimes as a committed leader, we’ll be forced to do things that aren’t easy or that may cause us to be unpopular in the eyes of those around us.  Maybe it’s an unpopular decision; maybe it’s letting something or someone go.  No matter what it is, committed leaders keep the vision in sight, they stay focused, and they pursue.   They don’t let themselves get sidetracked by popular opinion.

Confidence is a building block of commitment.  It’s extremely difficult to be committed to something if you lack confidence.  Confidence doesn’t equate to cockiness or arrogance.  Just the opposite.  Many great leaders are very humble.  I think confidence is being sure.  Being sure that you’ve done your research, you have the right tools (both people and equipment) and you have the ability to help others be successful.

Let me leave you with this.  I’m including a link to a recent article I wrote titled “Are You Prepared To Lead?” that was published in the Disaster Recovery Journal; July 2011.  I hope that you’ll enjoy reading this.

Until next time, be safe and lead.

TIP:  “It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way and once you have won his heart, he will follow you anywhere.”  Vince Lombardi

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