An event happened recently that reminded me of something I had learned long ago. I don’t remember where I learned it or who from, but it’s a principle that has been with me for as long as I can remember:
“Never ask someone to do something that you would not do yourself.”
Now, I always took this a bit further. Not only would I avoid asking someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself, if I had the time I would help them do it. When I think back, I know the people I considered leaders followed this philosophy as well. It’s one thing to say “go and do this” it is entirely another to say “this needs to be done, I’ll help.” Now sometimes a leader will have to say “go and do this” because of circumstances beyond is control, but if his people know that he would be right there with them if he could they will work just as hard as if he was.
Anyway while trying to figure out where I learned that quote from I came across this blog post about Major Dick Winter’s War Memoirs. Now Major Winters was considered a leader’s leader in a lot of ways and the principles he lays out in his book are so important I would like to place them here as well. They are:
- Strive to be a leader of character, competence, and courage.
- Lead from the front. Say, “Follow me!” and then lead the way.
- Stay in top physical shape—physical stamina is the root of mental toughness.
- Develop your team. If you know your people, are fair in setting realistic goals and expectations, and lead by example, you will develop teamwork.
- Delegate responsibility to your subordinates and let them do their jobs. You can’t do a good job if you don’t have a chance to use your imagination or your creativity.
- Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.
- Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.
- Take a moment of self-reflection. Look at yourself in the mirror every night and ask yourself if you did your best.
- True satisfaction comes from getting the job done. The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.
- Hang Tough!—Never, ever, give up.
Now there are other worthwhile gems at the blog post and even more in Major Winter’s book. I plan to pick up Major Winter’s book as soon as I can and add it to my stack o’ stuff to read.