Whether it’s day-to-day leadership or leading through a battle, are you standing out in leading by example? Leadership is about influence, and the concept of “leaders go first” carries a lot of weight.
When I reflect on the examples of the great leaders in the crucible of the Vietnam POW camps, first they courageously held the line on their commitment to their character. Second, they learned to adapt their behaviors to balance mission and people. Simultaneously they had to deny repeated enemy attempts at exploitation while taking care of their fellow POWs. Given these conditions, their lives were a 24/7 battle of grit and mental discipline to set the example and show us the way.
1. Battle for Your Character
Have you realized that we are all only a step away from dishonorable behavior? Have you intentionally engaged in the battle to guard your own character? We frequently bring this issue up in our training materials, coaching, and presentations for three reasons –
A. We’re all human and therefore tempted to take shortcuts and pursue our interests at the expense of others.
B. Bad character, as evidenced by widespread deceit and dishonesty, is undermining the foundations of our culture.
C. When we violate character basics as leaders, our followers quickly lose trust.
2. Work to Gain a Leadership Balance
Contrary to what others may recommend, you cannot focus solely on your strengths. Yes, they’re critical for your career/work performance success, but that’s only one side of the seesaw.
When you step into any mantle of leadership—personal or professional—you must learn to manage your struggles sufficiently to be a good example on both sides of the balance of results/mission and relationships/people. If you fail to balance achieving the mission while positively influencing your people, you’re not setting a good example and you can never be seen as a great leader by your followers.
Finally, the senior leaders in the POW camps would also remind us that we can’t do it alone. Otherwise, it’s overwhelming and it doesn’t give others an opportunity to grow with you. Enlist the help of others with some positive accountability, and you’ll make some significant contributions to the cause of honorable leadership.
Please post your comments below, and also read and watch more on this topic – “What Does ‘Leaders Go First’ Really Mean? Two Attributes”