Flexibility and Leadership

Change happens. Weather changes and ruins your plans. Sickness and injuries stop us in our tracks. Car accidents occur. Sometimes change comes in the form of others having better ideas than our own. Or the competition does something no one expected them to do.

So with all this change going on around us, how can we possible be rigid with our plans? How can we not prepare backup plans, and almost expect something unexpected to happen?

If we aren’t flexible, then we aren’t being good leaders. It’s that simple and it’s that important.

At the starting line of my first Ironman triathlon, the announcer said, “You can’t control the weather, and you can’t control if you get a flat tire; the only thing you can control today is your attitude, so make it a good one.”  That’s good advice for life, not just for a race.

When a monkey wrench gets thrown into our plans, it’s how we respond that is contagious to the whole family, company, or team. If you say, “Hey, no problem. We’re flexible,” then people will want to follow you, they’ll want to be on your team.

Adapt and overcome…with a smile.

Honesty and Leadership

A friend who works for the State Police told me about a great boss he once had. On the first day of work, he called my friend into his office to officially welcome him aboard. Near the end of the meeting, the boss said, “There’s one last thing I need to tell you, and I say this to everyone who works for me. If you ever, ever lie to me, you will be fired before you hit the floor at the bottom of the stairs.”  

It’s just that important. Honesty is the concrete foundation on which our reputation and character rest. Destroy that foundation, and everything else comes crashing down.

In my 17 years in the Air Force, I’ve only had one bad boss, and it was dishonesty that brought him down. People can forgive mistakes and overlook a lot of flaws, but dishonesty in inexcusable. Nobody wants to work with someone they can’t trust. Ever.

So be honest about your mistakes; even the big ones that you really want to hide. Don’t hesitate. Don’t think it through. Just be honest. Always and quickly. That’s the kind of foundation upon which truly great leaders are built.

Humility and Leadership

You don’t have to be a CEO or a military general to be a leader. Whether you’re a husband and father, or a member of a running club or church group, it’s good to refresh our minds on those make-or-break traits of a great leader.

Humility is one of those essential qualities. An outstanding leader is aware that they don’t know everything, and they aren’t afraid to admit it. They seek input from others and foster an atmosphere of learning and improving together.

As a general, George Washington set the example of humility by bringing in experts to train his army. There were areas in which he knew he was deficient, and he readily sought out those who were experts in those fields. Then as president, he refused the title “His Majesty” and the wearing of kingly attire. Instead he opted for the simple title “Mr. President” and wore the same civilian clothes as everyone else.

If you catch yourself thinking that you’re the one with all the ideas and answers – watch out! Remember: Everyone you meet knows something that you do not.

Be a humble leader, and let it be others who build your monuments.