DO YOU KNOW THE TRAITS YOU WANT YOUR LEADERS TO POSSESS? AND THE PRINCIPLES YOU WANT THEM TO LIVE BY?
Now that you have clearly identified your morals, values and purpose for you and your organization in the building of your Leadership Culture, you will want to identify the leadership traits and principles that you want your leaders to live by and demonstrate in your Leadership Culture.
YOU WANT TO ASK YOURSELF:
What are the traits of strong and effective leaders? What are the characteristics I want my people to possess? More importantly, do I possess these traits myself? What principles of leadership do I want my leaders to demonstrate in their actions and behaviors? What leadership principles do I demonstrate? Are they in concert with my morals, values, and purpose? What do I need to do to ensure I live by these traits and principles every day?
IT'S A MATTER OF LANGUAGE, NOT PRINCIPLES
There are many books and philosophies out there describing the traits and principles of effective leadership. I have found that if you study leadership long enough, you will discover that there are raw core basic principles that carry throughout time, and characteristics that leaders must have or demonstrate no matter what. The evolution that has occurred over time is primarily in the language used to when describing these leadership traits and principles. When you are deciding on your organization's leadership traits and principles, pick a language, or philosophy that represents your language, your communication methods, and the culture you want to build within your organization.
I was taught, and still live by, the leadership traits and principles of the United States Marine Corps. They resonate with me. They are easy to understand, and they adhere to everyday life. I have yet to find anything better. I have also found that not all civilian cultures are receptive to the Marine Corps' leadership language. There are many mis-perceptions, when people hear "Marine Corps", they think of drill instructors screaming in your face, hard core accountability, and and blind following of orders. That is so very far from the truth when it comes to the leadership philosophies of the Marine Corps. The philosophy of the Marine Cors is designed to drive decision making, initiative, and actions taken down to the lowest levels possible. The cause for the mis-perception is in the language gap. The language in the Marines is highly effective. When used in the civilian world, many organizational cultures are fearful and resistant (I will save the reason for resistance for a future post). What I learned over time was that there was a different way to communicate these traits and principles.
Through reading and studying the works of John Maxwell, I learned that everything I believe about leadership can be articulated in another language. His best selling leadership book, "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" is another language for of the Marine Corps' leadership Traits and Principles. It is all the same, just described in a different way. You can find the Marine Corps' leadership traits and principles with each of his 21 laws. I learned that everything I believe in can be described in an entirely different language that other organizational cultures are more receptive to. As I mentioned above, the raw core leadership principles remain transparent throughout time and culture, it is just the language we use to communicate it.
When you are pondering the traits and principles you want your organizational culture to exude, you are also making a commitment to a common language for discussing the subject of leadership. You are taking part in a process that is solidifying your leadership foundation, and setting your organization up for sustainable growth. This step is essential for the follow-on steps of a Leadership Culture. Identifying what your leaders are made of, and how they will behave, will help you with Recruiting and Screening of your people, as well as the language used when it is time for Coaching and Mentoring.
If you are a business or organization wanting to build an organizational culture that is made of leaders instead of followers, an organizational culture that drives toward a common purpose, and vision based on common values, you must identify and describe the leadership traits and principles you want your people to possess and practice. This becomes a driver for initiative and innovation. It creates a system of accountability. It provides content for discussions around leadership, and it enables a tangible vision when you are looking for people to help you build your Leadership Culture. What do your leaders look like and act like?
MAKE SURE YOU CAN LIVE THE TRAITS AND PRINCIPLES YOU WANT YOUR PEOPLE TO POSSESS, BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T, HOW CAN YOU EXPECT YOUR PEOPLE TO?
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