On my first day at West Point in the summer of 1976, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea those next four years
would shape my life as deeply as they have. In some ways, that experience is as fresh in my mind today as it was 30
years ago. Why? Because by the time I left West Point, I had learned some basic truths about leadership that have come to form the core of my leadership philosophy today.
- DO THE RIGHT THING EVEN WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING. This is basic discipline. In the U.S. Army, we have learned that the success of our organization hinges on the trust and confidence we have in the words and actions of our fellow soldiers. Integrity is the cornerstone of the Army ethos, and it is non-negotiable.
- TREAT PEOPLE WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT. Everyone has value. Treating people with dignity and respect also means that you, the leader, must help develop dignity and respect in others. By doing that, you create the trust and confidence.
- PRACTICE SAFETY IN ALL YOU DO. This may seem trite, but this leadership characteristic is often overlooked. Whether your work involves physical labor or desk work, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of your team. I am amazed at the number of leaders in all walks of life who don’t know basic safety such as first aid and CPR. Ensuring that safety is part of everything you do is leadership.
- MAINTAIN BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE. Everyone has heard the balance mantra, yet many fail to practice it. Start early to balance work and family and play. If you are “all work,” you get stale, tired, uncreative. You lose depth and texture. When you take a break, you teach your team to maintain balance in their lives. You also show your team that you trust them to carry on without you.
- MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Learn to say, “yes, if…” instead of “no, because… .” With a positive attitude, you will get to be known as a can-do person; someone who makes things happen. Training yourself to be the positive person will serve you well all the time—especially in crisis situations.
- BE REAL. You are going to come across a lot of different leadership advice throughout your life. Read, listen and take what works for you, but be yourself.