Good Advice for an Aspiring Leader… from Barney?

My former Chief of Staff, Barney Barnes (every Sheriff needs a Barney – and I NEVER get tired of that joke…), gave a very well-thought-out response to the request for guidance on aspiring to leadership. I had to include it as a separate post. Here it is:

That is some of the soundest advice that can be given and, if followed, the young man will do well. Taking the path of least resistance will make a mighty river and a mighty man, both crooked. Here area couple points he may want to consider.

1) It is the love and passion of the leader, for the enterprise and for the followers, that creates a soul and brings organic life into the enterprise. This creates the “esprit” were the unit will move as one…military, law enforcement, sports team, or business. That reminds me of a quote I came across–What better expression of love is there than to create life—and how can life be sustained without love? True leaders, as the ancients taught, are followed without any coercion because the leader has “turned their soul to some noble purpose”. The greatest leader put this all together as he spoke of the sacrificial nature of leadership birthed in love…”Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (followers). Jesus. Men and women who go into harms way correctly must possess a love for each other and not be driven by hatred for the evil force they oppose. Love is the stronger emotion…love for the unit and love for each other will sustain them in the greatest adversity.

2) Then there is the little talked about subject of followership. Try to find a book on this subject, yet to be a great leader you must first be a great follower. Remember the childhood game—Follow the Leader? Followership is not only a prerequisite to leadership, it is also a continuing role. When you think about it we must be able to fulfill both roles for much of our lives. In law enforcement/military the Sergeant is following the Lieutenant while at the same time leading the corporals. If the lieutenant is a poor follower then this will taint “the sarge” who may inflict this on the corporal. The lieutenant was most likely a poor follower and should have never been given the additional responsibility—they should have been given the opportunity to be a corporal once again. This is why good leadership at the top is so essential—ensuring that good followership is in place throughout the organization. I call this “bi-directional” followership and it is a close relative of bi-directional loyalty.

Keep your powder dry,

Barney

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9/11 Remembered – Lessons from the Rubble

Courage is fear holding on one minute longer. 
Gen. George S. Patton

As the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks draw near, like so many of you, I can vividly recall where I was and what I felt as I watched the horrific events of that day unfold. It’s been said that time heals all things. And while the memory of that day will never fade it is our prayer that the healing continues.

In the aftermath of 9/11 thousands of heroes descended on New York City, the Pentagon, and the countryside of Pennsylvania to assist the survivors and their families. One of those heroes was firefighter Bob Beckwith.

After 29 years of service, Beckwith had already retired from the New York City Fire Department when the events of 9/11 unfolded. When he learned that a former colleague’s son was among the hundreds of missing firefighters, he made his way down to ground zero and convinced authorities to let him pass. He then joined the search to find survivors.

Two days after the attack President George W. Bush went to New York City and visited the site at ground zero. Asked to say a few words to encourage the workers, Bush climbed aboard a partially buried fire truck. With Beckwith by his side, he spoke the now famous words through a megaphone, “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon.” The picture of the two has become one of the most iconic photos from that time.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man; he is brave five minutes longer.” It was the bravery of Beckwith along with thousands like him, who in the face of adversity, teach us much needed leadership lessons today. As you reflect on the events of 9/11, here are three take-away leadership lessons to apply in honor of those who lost their lives, and those who served in its aftermath.

Ordinary people answer the call during extraordinary times.

It would have been easy for Beckwith to sit at home and leave it to others to sift through the rubble. After all, he had already done his duty. But not Beckwith.

Cicero said, “It is the character of a brave and resolute man not to be ruffled by adversity and not to desert his post.” And this was the attitude of brave firefighters, first responders, and thousands of other ordinary people who answered the call of duty during extraordinary times. In times of adversity, leaders like Bob Beckwith do not sit by the phone waiting on a call, they show up.

Ordinary people make great sacrifices.

Working in shifts around the clock, workers at ground zero tirelessly searched for victims in the rubble. Volunteers from across America and around the world assisted in the clean up and recovery efforts. Ordinary citizens conducted bake sales, donated blood, and found many creative ways to help meet the challenges our country faced.

While not all of the names of individuals who made sacrifices will be remembered, let us not forget the courageous circumstances under which they were performed. Abraham Lincoln said, “Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” And this is your call to leadership, not to make a name for yourself, but to serve great causes. Sacrificial leadership remains a noble calling.

Ordinary people give hope for a better tomorrow.

The days following 9/11 were a dark time for our country. The overwhelming sense of loss coupled with a sense of security that had been taken for granted was shattered. We were shaken to our core.

Yet instead of cowering in despair and defeat, we came together- not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. We set aside our petty differences to rally around a greater cause. We rallied our communities, our collective love of country, and faith in God in order to show the world that while we may be wounded, we would not be defeated.

Who are the leaders that make America great? Look around you. They do not relish fancy titles or status symbols. They are ordinary people like you.

© 2011 Doug Dickerson

Doug Dickerson is an award winning columnist and leadership speaker. He is the author of the book, Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. Visit www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com for more information.

The Attitude of Learning Leaders

Heraclitus

Much learning does not teach understanding. – Heraclitus

From Bits & Pieces a few years back is a story about musician Hoagy Carmichael. As the story goes, Hoagy once decided to take up golf. Lessons were arranged with an instructor. At the first session Carmichael was patiently shown the basics of the game: how to hold the club, how to stand, how to swing, etc. Finally, after a half hour of this, the instructor felt Carmichael was ready to drive a few toward the first hole. The ball was teed up. Hoagy stepped up to it, swung, then watched the ball sail down the fairway, bound onto the green and roll into the cup–a hole in one! The instructor was dumbfounded. Hoagy flipped the club to a caddy with a jaunty motion, then turned to the still speechless instructor. “OK,” he said casually, “I think I’ve got the idea now.”

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “It is what we learn after we know it all that really counts.” Regardless of what level of success you enjoy as a leader, one thing is certain; learning is a life long process. More importantly, the knowledge that got you where you are won’t be enough to keep you there. You must never stop learning.

With vast resources of knowledge now available at our fingertips in the ever-advancing age of technology in which we live, staying ahead of the curve is more critical than ever. The way in which you invest yourself and take responsibility for your learning will make you all the more productive as a leader. Here are a few tips for going forward with an attitude of learning.

Be inspired by your mentors. Simply put, never stop being a student. Your mentors may not necessarily be up-to-speed on the latest technological gadgetry and know-how, but they possess something far greater – experience and wisdom. As technology advances and business operations become more sophisticated, it’s all too easy to be further removed from the human touch that once defined our leadership elders. What our mentors can teach us has less to do with the rapid rise and pace of technology and new media, and more to do with what we lost along the way – personal relationships. Mentors keep us grounded and remind us of the value of face time in place of Facebook. They remind us that our word is our bond, and that we treat others the way we want to be treated. Mentors are needed now more than ever and are a great source of inspiration.

Be challenged by your peers. Helpful here is a healthy amount of respect and a generous dose of curiosity. Leaders with a healthy self-esteem know that there is much they can learn from their peers. A Japanese proverb says, “One thousand days to learn, ten thousand days to refine.” When leaders learn from their peers they open themselves up to new experiences and levels of understanding. This not only helps you as a leader, but enhances the overall intelligence and performance of your team. Peers are built-in extensions of your corporate classroom. The next time you plan professional development or educational days, consider the talent pool that already exists in your organization. Utilize your peers as resources that can be of service to the entire organization. The best and brightest are not as far away as you thought.

Be motivated by your competitors. For many leaders, the competition is one whom must be pushed back. The attitude of a leader who is a learner is quite different. The question becomes not, “How can I beat them?’, but rather, “what can I learn from them?’ Gil Atkinson, the American business inventor of the automatic sprinkler system said, “Thank God for competition. Whenever competitors upset our plans or outdo our designs, they open infinite possibilities of our own work to us.” What an amazing attitude of a leader who understood the value of competition. The learning process as a leader is never ending. Class is always in session. As a leader, you are both the student and a teacher. What have you learned today?

© 2011 Doug Dickerson.

Doug Dickerson is an award winning writer and motivational speaker. He is the director of Management Moment Leadership Services. Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. Visit www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com to learn more.

The theory of limited government …

The theory of limited government contends that all power exercised by the government is derived from the people. The people delegate to government those powers that they would otherwise exercise individually to protect their lives, liberties, and properties. The “limit” on government is what is delegated. Whatever power the people have delegated, the government can legitimately exercise. It may not exercise powers not delegated. In this way, no citizen is subject to power that he has not (in theory) consented to. While written constitutions and representative elections are never unanimous, the will of the majority of the people substitutes for unanimous consent.

Thomas Mullen

From the article:  But Don’t Libyans Have a Right to Freedom Too? 

Although I haven’t read it, you may also want to check out his book, A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

The High Calling of Servant Leadership

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
–      Albert Einstein

A story is told that during the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them.

Asked by the rider, he responded with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief and I will come and help you again.” The man was none other than George Washington.

Harold S. Geneen said, “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and actions.” And this is the essence of servant leadership. When talk becomes action; when ones purpose as a leader transcends position, and serving others is the norm rather than the exception, that is when leadership is truly understood.

Former President George H. W. Bush was recently asked in a Time magazine interview as to whether he has seen a shift in the past twenty years in the public’s attitude toward service. He replied, “I think so. I hope so. Many schools include a service project as part of their curriculum, and many corporations have in-house projects for their employees or give them time off to do volunteer work. There’s a greater understanding about the importance of giving back.” This is encouraging when you consider how great the need is for servant leaders today.

Creating a culture of servant leadership in business is needed today. Here I offer three simple concepts towards that end and how service can elevate your organization to a higher level.

Service is a model of leadership. The simplest definition of leadership comes from John Maxwell who defines it in one word– influence. A servant leader is one understands that his influence individually can make a difference, but collectively can make a huge impact.

As a leader, when you rally your people, time, and resources around causes greater than yourself, you are modeling the greatest use of leadership. James Freeman Clarke said, “Strong convictions precede great actions.” What great causes are you and your organization rallying around?

Service is the blessing of leadership. Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” The blessing of leadership is found in the meaningful ways you find to enrich the loves of others. It is not always about finding ways to help others who can’t help themselves, although you should. It is also about connecting with those around you to add value in tangible ways.

When was the last time you praised a co-worker for a job well done? How about sending a personal note of encouragement to a colleague going through a slump? When the idea of being a blessing becomes your corporate culture you will move your business into a whole new realm of purpose.

Service is the reward of leadership. Do you want to position your team for greatness? As you set the example of servant leadership within your organization, there will be a buy-in among your team that will have significant meaning.

Jim Rohn said, “Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness – great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy.”  When you become a catalyst for servant leadership it will open doors you never imagined.

Where will you serve today?

© 2011 Doug Dickerson

Doug Dickerson is an award winning columnist and leadership speaker. He is the author of the new book, Leaders Without Borders: 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your business or civic organization. Visit www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com for more information.

Marching to the Beat of Your Own Drum

I would rather have a Medal of Honor than be President of the United States.

President Harry S. Truman

I recently had the privilege of visiting the Medal of Honor Museum aboard the USS Yorktown in beautiful Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Showcased in this museum is a moving tribute to our military heroes who served our country with honor, valor, and bravery.

What caught my eye was recognition given to the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor, William “Willie” Johnston.

Born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont in 1850, Johnston was a drummer boy in Company D of the 3rd Vermont Infantry. His service in the Seven Day retreat in the Peninsula Campaign was exemplary.

During the retreat many of the men threw away their equipment so they had less of a load to carry. Johnston retained his drum and brought it safely to Harrison’s Landing. It was there he had the honor drumming for the division parade. He was the only boy to bring his instrument to the battlefield. As a result of his bravery, Johnston was given a medal; a Medal of Honor.

Heroic acts by leaders like Johnston give cause for us to reflect on our motives and how we might better serve those we lead. An 11 year-old drummer boy on a battlefield 149 years ago teaches us three leadership traits worth emulating.

Leaders carry their own weight. While the other men in the infantry threw away their equipment, Johnston held to his. So often during difficult times, the leader is not the one who discards the weight of responsibility but carries it on his shoulders. Think about it. How many people in your organization are shirking their responsibilities and how many are stepping up and being responsible? See a disparity?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” At a tender young age, Johnston exemplified leadership beyond his years of understanding. As a drummer, he teaches us that it is not about rank or role within the organization, but heroes in our midst can be found if we dare to look.

Leaders know how to stand alone. At the conclusion of the retreat it was only Johnston who returned his drum from the battlefield. And it was only Johnston who had the honor of drumming for the division parade. When others exempt themselves from the bravery of the moment, they exempt themselves also from the honor that follows.

It’s been said, “When you are forced to stand alone, you realize what you have in you.” When you march to the beat of your own drum you do so knowing that there are certain places where only few leaders go. When others choose to the path of least resistance, you will cast your lot with the company of the brave. Those ranks may be few but you have grown to understand there are worse things than standing alone. By standing alone today you will lead the parade tomorrow.

Leaders summon uncommon courage in uncommon times. By shedding their gear, the other men did what was expedient. By holding on to his drum, Johnston did the exceptional. C.S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

Testing points come and go, but the enduring qualities of honor, sacrifice, and valor shine in unexpected ways from unlikely persons. This 11 year-old drummer boy distinguished himself among men and earned a medal from the president.

Consider the ranks of your organization. Who are the ones that stand out by their service, sacrifice, and dedication to the organization? These are the ones who march to the beat of their own drum- called to stand out, not to blend in. They may not have the title, but are leaders worthy of respect.

© 2011 Doug Dickerson

Visit Doug’s Management Moment website for more leadership principles and insight…