Leadership is a privilege, and we all must earn the right to lead and inspire others day to day. There are no shortcuts to being an effective leader. The path is often tough, the lessons are challenging, but the journey is necessary.
As a young Marine Corps officer, I’ll never forget the time I stepped in front of my first platoon of Marines as their new commander. They had just returned from a hellacious combat deployment in Iraq, and the team was layered with experience. Many of them had multiple combat deployments under their belts and at the time, I did not. The realization of being the young new guy, combined with the incredible task of leading these amazing Marines hit me like a rock. The responsibility of earning their trust, leading, and preparing these warriors for their next combat deployment to Afghanistan lied squarely on my shoulders.
Like any positional title, my title of Commander really meant very little. I had to earn the right to lead those Marines. There was no shortcut to gaining their trust. If I wanted them to follow me into combat, I had to become someone worth following – and the same goes for you.
Through many difficult lessons along the journey, it became evident that every day is test day – leaders have to show up prepared every single day and with their team’s best interest at heart. There are no days off. Along the way, I picked up a few simple steps that serve as a foundation to become someone worth following.
FILL YOUR CUP
Leaders cannot pour into others from an empty cup. For some, their moment to lead may be few and far between, and for others, it’s a daily occurrence. Either way, do not let the moment pass you by, and certainly do not hope that you will be ready – be prepared when your time comes.
Simply put, intentional preparation means to Get Better Every Day. There is no such thing as sustaining, we either get better or worse every day with the decisions we make. Some days we make great leaps, while other days may just be small victories, but the good news is that you have control over that outcome each day. Be prepared, improve daily, and fill your cup.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
We’ve all heard the saying ‘Iron sharpens Iron’. Nobody gets to the top alone, and selecting the right tribe is a very intentional, and often, challenging decision. The right tribe is not just about finding those that you need to be surrounded by; it is often accompanied by the need to remove negative influences from your life. Conduct an honest audit of the people in your life. Are you surrounded by the right people to help you become the type of leader you need to be? Who adds value, and who holds you back? Do they reinforce your moral absolutes and hold you accountable? Who should you spend more time around?
BE A LIGHTHOUSE
A good friend of mine uses a simple adage that I adopted to help lead the way and keep sharp: Find a mentor, be a mentor. Today’s world is rapidly growing more complex and confusing which may hamper the achievement of success.. It’s filled with information overload from every platform and direction. Just like a ship navigating through the fog, many struggles to navigate through the complexities of today’s world. They are searching for someone to guide them through the challenges, and they need a lighthouse.
We all have various opportunities presented to us in our life, and it’s our responsibility to steward those relationships, opportunities, and moments with great intentionality and purpose. It starts with setting the right example for others to follow, being a leader of sound moral character, and seeking opportunities to make a difference in someone else’s life. While some opportunities are greater than others, even small interactions can leave huge impacts on someone’s life. Be a lighthouse for others.
Leadership is a privilege. How are you earning the right to lead others? Tune in and follow The Talent War Group for resources to help you grow your influence and drive desired outcomes by becoming someone worth following.
To increase your preparation drop us a line and let us know how we can best support you. Or reach out to The Talent War Group to learn more about our programs to see if we may be a good fit for you.
Joe McNamara is the President of IMPACT, a leadership development, and team-building firm committed to shaping the next generation of leaders. He is a former combat-decorated Marine Corps officer and has led elite teams of all sizes through complex operating environments on multiple combat deployments.