Leadership, simply put, is the ability of a leader to inspire and influence members of the team. When I think about leadership and what it really means to inspire people, I prefer to think of the organization, regardless of the setting—corporate, military, athletic—as a team. Every position on a team is equally important and valuable, even though there may be different roles and responsibilities on the team for each position. Although a hierarchy may exist, when leaders truly thinks of themselves as in no more important of a position as any other member of the team, they are beginning to think as a servant leader. More on this later, as we get into some principles of leadership!
I have distilled my experience as an officer and platoon commander in the SEAL teams into four basic principles that apply for any leader, across any organization, regardless of the size of the team, big or small. As always, it is important to keep the principles simple. There is no need to complexify! Leadership, in its essence, is simple. Though simple, it is not always easy, because sometimes other things get in the way—namely, ego. When things become stressful—and they will—it is important as a leader to keep in mind the basics of leadership. The same is true for high-performance athletes as well as military personnel and others in stressful jobs and situations. A return to fundamentals, to the basics, will guide you through difficult times. Here are my four principles of leadership, with a discussion of each embedded in the links:
It is important to evaluate what you can and cannot control, and then focus your energy on what you can control. There are so many outside factors in life that we cannot control, but you, as a leader, do control your attitude, you control the way you approach the job, the way you approach members of the team, and you control the extent to which you will trust the members of the team. These leadership concepts may come easier for some than for others. By realizing that you already control many traits of successful leadership, and that all of these principles are well within your control by the way, you can strive towards a higher form of self-awareness and effective leadership.