Business leaders sometimes make the assumption that if they have succeeded as a leader in one field of battle that they can simply replicate that strategy across all types of teams. That isn't necessarily true. Leadership is contextual and a skill that must be constantly developed and adapted.
I have succeeded and failed in leadership positions throughout my life and therefor learned much throughout the journey. If we can apply just some of the lessons learned then we can usually find ourselves in a constant state of improvement.
Most people have the opportunity to be a leader many times during their life. Whether that is as an entrepreneur, business executive, board member of a charity, coach of their kid's sports team, or as a leader of the family. The list goes on and on. Each opportunity comes with its own set of challenges.
As a SEAL combat veteran, I have experienced many challenges in leadership in highly stressful environments. And while the leadership approach and tools used in combat may not translated perfectly to the business environment, one can derive many correlations.
Here are some tips to lead, prioritize and win as a leader in any environment.
Make sure the team understand the mission. And their role in executing it. This is critical in combat as well as business. Or any setting for that matter when a team has goals to accomplish. Ensuring that you have the right people on the bus and that they all know where it is headed is sometimes harder than it seems. Communicating mission of the organization or team is something that needs to be a constant focus. Every decision made should be in line with accomplishing the specific goals of the company. But of course things change and when they do, the team needs to know how the new plan affects their role in execution. Communication is key.
Prioritize the most important initiatives. There will always be a long list of number one priorities. Improving systems and processes. Reworking sales initiatives. Restructuring the business. Closing new accounts. Whatever the priorities are, select the top one or too, make sure someone owns the outcome, and remained focused on these until they are done. Spreading the organization too thin will ensure none of the priorities get done well or in a timely manner.
Project strength when times get tough. Being a leader in any setting isn't easy. As they say, it can get lonely at the top. The ultimate success or failure of the team falls on your shoulders. All businesses experience ups and downs throughout their life cycle. It is inevitable. The highs are high and the lows can be pretty low. A leader's character is defined by how they act during the tough times much more so than the bad. Stay calm and work the issues. Panicking or appearing stressed out in front of the team will serve no positive purpose.
Prepare for change and drive towards the win. Another thing that is inevitable is change. Leaders need to embrace adaptive change and be prepared for when it starts happening. Usually, by the time we realize radical change is needed in our businesses, it's been needed for a long time. And people have probably been telling us that it's needed. When that time comes, gather the team, develop a plan, assign roles, a get it done. Waiting or letting issues fester will only damage morale, and most likely the bottom line.
Business leaders face all kinds of challenges. Some are easy to overcome, and many aren't. But remember, you are not alone. Rely on the team to solve problems. Then everyone will feel the satisfaction when challenges are overcome.