I have been told that when you enter US Marine Corps officer training you are taught the following three keys to leadership: know yourself, know your job, and know your people. Having taught leadership for many decades, these three keys are a lot more difficult than they first appear.
First, to truly understand how you think and work takes great depth of reflection and effort. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner in their book, A Leader’s Legacy (Jossey-Bass, 2006) write: “There’s solid evidence that the best leaders are highly attuned to what’s going on inside themselves as they are leading and to what’s going on with others. They’re very self-aware and they’re very socially aware.” The challenge to being a leader is to understand yourself and to understand how you solve problems.
Second, every day you are a leader there is a job to get done. Some days this changes minute to minute. However, the best leaders know that the mission, the core purpose of the work, should not change. Being mission driven and values centered is one of the foundations to being a fine leader.
Third, it takes a tremendous effort to know your people. And as a leader you have to come to terms with the following insight by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book, First, Break All The Rules: What The World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster, 1999): “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.” As they note, great leaders and managers capitalize on this insight and try to help each person become more and more of who they already are.
One way to become a better leader is to participate in the 2013 From Vision to Action Leadership Training. This in-depth, year long training course encompasses four quarterly sessions and helps participants gain valuable skills, knowledge and perspective about leadership, strategic planning and execution, and implementing organizational change. For more information about how to register for this training, including cost, dates and location, please click on the following link: http://www.chartyourpath.com/VTA-Training-Details.html.
When one strives to be a better leader, knowing yourself, knowing your people and knowing your job is essential. For when these three keys to leadership are in place, we have a sound foundation for further organizational transformation and success.