Recently Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Martin E. Dempsey shared his leadership vision with Syracuse University students. His ideas will supercharge your leadership growth.
With an illustrious 40-year career, his techniques are not just for soldiers--they are for students and business people to integrate into their soul. Here are 13 ideas you can instill in your leadership style today.
1) Beating People Into Submission Does Not Work. "You might try to bludgeon your way through, but it doesn't work well," the General shared with the audience. Leadership is most effective with a diplomatic gentle hand. At Marlin Steel, we try to have the ear to lip ratio correct. When working with team members use your ears much more than your lips.
2) Good Jugglers. Multi tasking is critical to be successful. A good leader should be able to juggle many projects at a time.
3) Master Prioritizers. "What is a priority today may not be tomorrow, and you have to be prepared for that" the General implored and related that after his last visit to central New York, no one would be talking about Ebola or Crimea or the Islamic State of Iraq so targets shift and you have to be adaptable to handle what is more urgent.
An effective leader handles many projects constantly pivoting and negotiating many fluctuating deadlines and surprises. Being able to tackle them in a focused methodical way will yield successful outcomes. Every day, I have a list of what I will accomplish. I do not leave work till this list is done.
4) Recommendations are Critical. Sharing a problem with your boss is good but not sufficient. It is critical that you share recommendations and proposed solutions when you update the boss. Leaders that share suggested methods to get around problems are appreciated and will rise in organizations.
5) Let Your Team Take Risks. When you are a leader, decisions sometimes lead to failure. Leaders have to take risks because even with all the information in your hands, circumstances shift or best intentions miss the mark. The General stated, "It's not a leader's job to prevent risk, rather it is the leader's job to enable subordinates to take risks." You want your team to stick out their neck and take a chance so they can fly solo. Sometimes they will crash. Let them know you got their back so you focus on problem areas and they can soar without you holding their hand.
Don't let risk halt you from moving forward.
6) Transparency. 13 Leadership Habits Our Nation's Top Military Generals "If there's more truth in the hallway, than in the meeting room, you've got problems," Dempsey said. You want to build a culture of candor. Let people call it like it is so that boils are lanced and not allowed to fester and become bigger problems. You want to build a culture where people are comfortable bringing to your attention issues. If they feel their head will be bit off, you will not have transparency.
7) Don't be afraid of disagreements. All of us do not see the same path to success. Many of us can be right, however at a certain point, the leader has to take control and move forward with the plan the team will follow. Marlin Steel grappled with getting registered for ISO 9001: 2008 for years. An elite subset of 14,000 companies holds this prestigious halo. Pausing for years because we were not sure if it was the right time with all the expense and mind share that would have to be devoted to the endeavor, I disagreed with coworkers and Board members and we made the decision to pursue this lofty plateau. Looking back 2.5 years later, we are thrilled we did because we have attracted more clients and improved our process. We had to over ride the well-intentioned naysayers that disagreed with this decision. I am thankful we did.
8) Competence and character are needed in equal measure. As the General shared, "Competence will get you to the table, but character is what keeps you at the table," he said. Many are competent, however consistent integrity and a steady unrelenting drive will blow you past the competition.
9) Deflect Credit. "You can get a lot done in Washington if you don't care who gets credit." Washington DC work style is an orbit of its own. For the rest of us that live in reality, leaders do not sponge success and adoration like politicians. Heed Dempsey's thoughtful approach to how you should conduct yourself to be Anti-Washington. "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking less about yourself," he said.
10) Sunny Outlook. Leaders "should be optimistic, you should be ambitious, you should be self-confident." This is the American way. People like to follow leaders with these traits. They will sacrifice for Generals or Managers or Owners that have this core disposition.
11) Approachable. Many managers let promotions get to their head. They try to have separation from their team to elevate their ego. Dempsey dispatches with that approach and insisted "the best of our leaders are extremely approachable." Have an open door policy and engage your team with warmth. They are more likely to cover your back if you are easy to reach and discuss problems.
12) Never Stop Learning. The General shared a favorite Abraham Lincoln quote "I will study and prepare, and perhaps my day will come." This profound vision of never resting--always gleaning new information so you can be your best at that one inflection when it counts will pay dividends to your career success. Dempsey encouraged the audience to "commit to be a life-long learner, and if history calls on you, you will be prepared," he said.
13) Unity. The General shared another meaningful quote from William Butler Yeats: "Talent perceives differences. Genius perceives unity." Dempsey transformed this theme and said, "You can't miss the differences that separate us," he said. "Genius perceives unity. Genius is what allows us to come together. That's what this country does. That's what sets us apart."
He implored the audience to appreciate the diversity that surrounds them. At Marlin Steel we look like the Rainbow coalition and it makes us stronger as well. The General was humbled by the typical American experience by saying "I travel all around the world and I would never see an audience like this--men and women, different races, different religions--sitting here. You would never see an audience like this anywhere else in the world," he said.
"That's the genius of the American Dream," he said. "You need to see genius, meaning you need to find unity. And if you do that, this country will be fine." Our diversity is a blessing and will help us succeed in these challenging times.
Special thanks to Mr. Jim Garamone from Department of Defense News.