What lessons did you learn growing up that have a profound impact on your leadership and management style?
Personally, my dad has been an unbelievable influence on my style and life over the years. Dad is a West Point graduate, very successful entrepreneur and all around great father, husband and man.
There’ve been many lessons over the years, too many to mention in this week’s issue, and I’ve selected seven lessons he’s taught me that I think are critical to anyone’s leadership and professional success.
1. Don’t ever leave the house without well polished shoes – the image you project to others and first impressions are everything. Odds are if you care enough to take care of your shoes, you’re likely to take care of the details in the other areas of your life. Your team will respect that about you subconsciously.
2. Let your playing do the talking – don’t run your mouth about how great you are and what you can do. Just do it as the Nike slogan goes. Real leaders take action and lead by example, and their teams, colleagues and subordinates see that. They will follow you because you’re willing to do what ‘s necessary, walk the walk, and make it happen.
3. Be a gentleman – It doesn’t cost you anymore to be nice, professional and gentlemanly (or ladylike) to everyone you meet. People will respect you more and follow your example. Be congruent with how you expect your team to behave. Lead by example.
4. 2 words / 1 word / 2 words – as an athlete dad asked me this all the time. The two words on the battlefield are “mean & viscous”, the one word is “intimidation”, and the two words are “kind & loving (from mom)”. On the battlefield these all make sense. In business, a blended approach works better. Your team and colleagues will respect your leadership style if you’re tough we needed, loving and generous when called for, and aggressive but polite and professional when it counts.
5. Experience is expensive and you always pay up front – a lesson I clearly keep learning! Seriously though, all success you achieve in life and leading will be filled with failures and losses. You must welcome them as a part of life on your path to success. Learn from them and take in their wealth of knowledge. Use it to coach and lead your team.
6. The only thing we have in life that is ours is our “word” – no one can take it from you. Guard it and cherish it. Say only what you mean, mean only what you say, and do what you say. People will follow you out of pure respect.
7. Give more of yourself and expect nothing in return – if you give to get, then you will quickly find out how transparent you are and nothing will come your way. Leaders give of themselves selflessly, and are rewarded with riches unimaginable by the rest because of it. They are selfless, and focused on providing more value than anyone else period. They garner huge respect as a result.
Leadership is defined in many ways. Really, it’s a set of behaviors and actions from those behaviors that cause people to follow and respect you. How you treat people, no matter who they are, says everything about you.
My dad taught me lots of lessons, and the seven listed here are only a handful, and you can use them in your everyday life to improve your leadership skills. When you start living them, you won’t need a title to lead, you’ll find people following you because of who you are and what you represent.
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