I have been involved in leadership training, as both a student and a teacher, for twenty-five years.
Every so often I’ll hear someone say something like, “The secret to leadership is ____________”, where you can fill in the blank with any number of leadership theories, quotes, facts, quips, acronyms, etc., etc. But here’s the REAL secret to leadership
THERE IS NO SECRET TO LEADERSHIP!
That’s right folks. There is no “secret” to leadership.
How can that be?
“Leadership” is among the most-discussed concepts in history. There is literally no end to the stream of pundits willing to pontificate about leadership (your humble correspondent included, of course). How can there possibly be any “secrets” left?
While there are no secrets in leadership, there are numerous leadership “models” to help you build your own leadership style.
You like Covey’s “7 Habits”? Make ‘em a habit!
Are you a Jim Collins “Good to great” man? That’s good. No, that’s great!
Jesus as CEO? You can’t go wrong there!
Me? From my first day at the Naval Academy I was indoctrinated in a leadership mission statement that reads “To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.”
Moral, Mental and Physical Preparedness
I like that model and still use it to this day. Young fire officers need to come up with a mission like this for themselves and their crew.
I also like the leadership model postulated by founding father John Adams. Adams recommended leaders “listen, read, think, write, act.” Listen and learn from other leaders. Read books, articles and blogs.
Think about those things, and then – here’s a big step for many of us – write something down! Write… right now. Write down your personal leadership mission statement. Share it in the comments if you’d like.
Finally, that last word from Mr. Adams is the key. It’s the “act” part that makes you a leader. If you want to be a leader, you’ve got to act like a leader. Act like you want your team members to act. You want a morally straight team? Be morally straight. You want a mentally tough team? Be mentally tough. You want a physically strong team? Be physically strong.
Be a leader. Do leadership things. Act like you want your team to act. That’s the secret of leadership. No secret there.
(Cover Photos Courtesy: John Dixon, FirefighterToolbox.com)