Monday, June 03, 2013

Leadership Requires A Delicate Behavioral Balance

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 Leadership is partially science, but mostly instinctual art, regardless of what SEAL commando trainers, drill sergeants, and athletic coaches may say. Leaders cannot be crafted out of poor initial material.

And leadership requires a delicate balance of fierce discipline (of yourself and of others), and empathy (for the feelings of others under your tutelage -- for those persons in your charge), each at its proper time; each in its proper place; and each in the right amount given the circumstances.

Sometimes even the best, most successful leaders, educators and coordinators have to avoid making a snap judgment and avoid doing something reactive, despite the instinct to strike back. It is difficult, but necessary for any leader to be able to step back and give certain relationship processes time, to insure a better, wiser perspective. Reactive communication (off of the field of battle) is seldom productive. Patience allows reason to take over pure reaction -- in fact, different parts of the brain (mind) are involved in each type of response.

Leaders are builders and not destroyers. They are Human Asset managers. They are teachers by their example and by their explanation. They are storytellers, metaphor addicts and "Repetition Raptors." These special people are sometimes conquerors and sometimes convincers; conquering may well be temporary, but conquering followed by convincing (as well as the reverse of this process) creates the longest-lasting results.

Every commander is a combination of a parent, a sibling and a Devil's Advocate. Our holy task and calling, by whatever higher power or path of destiny is to simultaneously achieve a goal (building something greater than any of us), and to groom, educate and prepare the next generation of leaders to be even better than we are.

Ask any group of businesspeople the question "What do effective leaders do?" and you'll hear a sweep of answers. Leaders set strategy; "they motivate; they create a mission; they build a culture." Then ask "What should leaders do?" If the group is seasoned and wise in the ways of life in the real world, you'll likely hear one, unified response: the leader's singular job is to get results.

Better leaders --  Those who know who know how to delicately balance their actions and responses, invariably get better results.

I am reminded of a great quotation attributed to a great American activist, philosopher and thought-leader:

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
Frederick Douglass

To which I reply, "Amen".

Thank you, as always for reading me, for sharing my articles with your colleagues, comrades, contacts and connections using the ever-expanding bandwidth of social media platforms and re-tweeting devices. And thank you for hearing me, as if I were standing before you, when I say that I have learned more from the great people I've taught and led than they have learned from me. Well.... maybe it's about equal.

Douglas E. Castle for The Taking Command Blog


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