When I hear the word “leadership” I typically envision another run-of-the-mill guest speaker imparting his/her views on a group of people that don’t want to listen. Why? Because throughout my 24 years of life experience, I find it particularly hard to find someone that can really deliver an intelligent, thoughtful, and relevant speech about the topic. The word “leadership” gets tossed around so often for me that I lose sight of its actual meaning.
However, all that just changed today with an hour long speech by Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Lorenz. I’ll let you read his bio. He spoke on 13 principles of leadership, which I’ll describe as “simply brilliant.” Easy concepts, but often overlooked. This was the best speech I've ever heard on leadership. Hands down. The presentation started with the following quote by Winston Churchill. I’ve heard it before, but it meant more to me today:
"To every person there comes in their lifetime that special moment when they are
figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special
thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents; what a tragedy if that moment
finds them unprepared or unqualified for the work that would be their finest
Wow. How true. Preparation, doing your homework, etc…..Are you prepared to do something amazing? Here are the 13 principles:
1. Learn the art of balancing shortfalls—you never have enough time, money, or manpower: Become a doer. Don’t ever give up. Even though you may fail, at least you tried.
2. Life is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash: Plan, plan, plan! You must live to fight another day. Don’t get tripped up by failures, there is always tomorrow.
3. Keep your eye on the ball: A leader sets the tone in any environment. If your organization fails, it’s your fault.
4. The toughest word to say in the English language is “yes”: Don’t just say “no,” always look into it first. If a leader says “no,” the organization will say “no,” and it becomes a habit. You must know your audience and become a cross-generational leader—knowing when to apply different techniques and tactics to lead all types of people.
5. Always make your decisions in the light of day: Stop wrestling tough decisions in the dark—wait until the sun is in your face. Tomorrow is another day.
6. Don’t lose your temper—unless you plan to: As a leader, you must know when to take particular action to achieve “effects.” People respond differently to different situations, so you must know when to yell, cheer, put your foot down, etc in order to motivate. It’s all about the effect.
7. You have to be able to lead your people, get along with your peers, and manage your bosses: There are three levels—superior to subordinate, peer to peer, and subordinate to superior. All three levels may have different opinions about you, and they are all probably correct. Learn your boss: Are they a morning or afternoon person? It is incumbent on the subordinate to get along with the superior—not the other way around. If you have to make a tough decision, rise two or three ranks (levels) above yourself and view it from their eyes also.
8. Ego is the number one facilitator, and at the same time, a detriment to mission accomplishment: Compete against yourself. Don’t blame others because you didn’t get selected, etc. Don’t let your ego determine who you are and how you will lead.
9. Never develop a sense of entitlement: It’s natural, but try not to do it. Don’t ever act like you are owed anything.
10. Apply overwhelming combat power on the point which will have the most effect: This is a methodology. Whatever you are doing, focus your direct attention on the things that are most important to achieving your desired effects.
11. Everything about leadership is grounded in integrity: Don’t ever compromise your integrity. Never sell yourself short. Little things matter—all the time.
12. You never know when you’re going to make a difference: Colin Powell was/is an amazing leader because he always cared about letting others know they are important. Something you say or do may change someone’s life—good or bad.
13. Being in the military is about service to others: This is why we are here—to serve others.
Listing the 13 principles on paper don’t do the speech justice, but I feel they are important to remember so I wrote them down. His final quote:
"My deepest fear is that I’ll look back on my life and wonder what I did with it." I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to have regrets. Definitely a little reminder to make a difference…