Leadership is a state of mind. One cannot lead unless they understand how their thoughts and actions affect those who follow them.
The United States military has a rich history of developing leaders who have accomplished incredible feats in the face of overwhelming odds and under impossible circumstances. What is it about these leaders and their development that allowes them to achieve so much through others? More than two decades ago the US Army published a leadership guide that provides insight into their “Be, Know, Do” framework for developing leaders.
- BE – is all about your character as a leader and is the foundation of your ability to lead. You must be aware of your innate talents and personal core values that drive your decisions before you can lead. This understanding gives you the courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or the consequences.
- KNOW – is all about the knowledge you need to be competent as a leader in the role you will fill in the organization. Discovering and embracing the expectations of those you serve is key to successful leadership. Discovering the uniqueness of each team member is essential to gaining their commitment to the team’s purpose. And understanding the best practices of other leaders provide powerful models for success.
- DO – is all about taking action starting with the development of the skills you need for your leadership role and the acquisition of the knowledge you need to define and achieve success. Leaders bring together everything they are, everything they believe and everything they know to provide purpose, direction and motivation. Leaders must think strategically, build relationships, influence others, and take needed actions.
Understanding one’s self is a key first step in becoming a leader. Mahatma Gandhi said “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” Sage advice from a true leader.
Pope Francis, while still Archbishop Bergoglio of Argentina, spoke to the connection of what we believe and what we do. “It is fundamental that one thinks what one feels and does; feels what one thinks and does; and does what one thinks and feels. You must use the language of the head, the heart, and the hands“. Good guidance for winning the hearts and minds of followers.
Like golf, leadership is a mind game. Every mind is unique: 100 billion individual brain cells each connected to other brain cells through thousands of synapse. Through this complex network flow the electrical and chemical messages that allow us to think, remember, reason, feel, and respond to the stimuli and information that swirls around us.
By the age of three each brain cell had established up to 15,000 connections with other brain cells. Over the next 10 years these synapse are pruned and strengthened by our life’s experiences. By the age of puberty the structure of the mind and the way we think and feel was established and our uniqueness defined.
Don Clifton in developing the StrengthsFinder assessment has provided a powerful tool to help each of us understand the uniqueness of how we think and feel. When we know how we think and feel we can begin to understand what motivates, inspires and engages us. This knowledge helps us understand why we make the decisions we do. And it provides the platform for us to understand and influence the decisions others make.
How are you wired? What brings you satisfaction? What is your uniqueness? Complete Gallup’s StrengthsFinder and engage in conversation with a strengths coach to discover your uniqueness and learn how to lead others uniquely through their natural talents.