John C. Maxwell explains, leadership at its core is influence. If you cannot influence your team to execute on your vision, then you are not leading. Unfortunately, many leaders with good intentions fail at affecting their team members because they operate as the boss and bark statements such as, “Because that is how I want it.”
The second those words are spoken the team dynamic brakes. You are no longer leading your team to get the results; you are now driving your team to get the results. One is about working with your team and allowing them to make ideas happen. The other is you telling them how to make the ideas happen.
The later is an ineffective strategy for leading. Why, because your cogs will only do what you have told them because they are getting a pay to follow directions. They will never go the extra step. They will never be loyal; worse they will only look out for themselves and be quick to blame or take credit.
I listened to Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink on Audile. The book is an account of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, two Navy SEAL officers, and their inspiring combat stories.
Willink and Babin bluntly narrate why SEAL teams rely on good leadership; the premise is good leadership keeps missions from failing and men from dying. The optics are extreme, but the leadership strategies that lead SEAL teams to victory can also be repackaged and applied to civilian leaders.
“You can’t make people listen to you. You can’t make them execute. That might be a temporary solution for a simple task. But to implement real change, to drive people to accomplish something truly complex or difficult or dangerous—you can’t make people do those things. You have to lead them.” ― Jocko Willink
The advice is fundamental but the direction is not instinctive, being a good leader is a learned skilled. Here is a partial list of what a good leader looks like:
- Listen to your team.
- Keep plans and communications simple.
- Prioritize to avoid target fixation on a single issue, then execute.
- Decentralized your command team members at all levels must be empowered to make decisions.
- Set the standard of what you will accept from yourself and your team.
Jocko Willink adds:
“any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.”
Your plan to win must be based on the decision to raise your standard, as a leader. You must decide to set standards for yourself and what you are willing to accept from others; no matter what happens. If you can focus on that one important strategy, you will not only build high-performance teams, but you will consistently make ideas happen.