My friend, Mike Manazir, Vice President of Business Development at Boeing, was a Top Gun pilot, Admiral, and guy who operates at full throttle. Mike was the Skipper of the US Nimitz (CVN 68) and more importantly a husband, father, and friend.
Mike recently penned his thoughts on effective leadership, and I could not agree more. People like Mike make the US Navy exceptional. Mike’s perspective can guide us in our everyday roles. We are all leaders!
Approachable: you’ve heard the cliche that all of us put pants on one leg at a time. Do not let your title shade the view that you are just like those you lead. Do not let your ego value your position. True empathy means you are always imagining what you look and sound like to each member of your team.
Authentic: always speak from your heart. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability; share yourself. Tell stories from your experiences getting to where you are today, especially the times you failed. Teach what you have learned.
Accountable: “we’ve got this, Boss.” Own the task and the results. Motivate the team to succeed through delegation. Be a cheerleader. Show them the target and lead with a light touch. Energize everyone by giving guidance and removing barriers.
Bold: you’ve heard “fortune favors the bold”. John Paul Jones said, “He who does not risk, does not win.” Once you decide on a path, don’t waver, but always assess the environment. If you need to alter your direction, it will become apparent to you, so commit and keep moving ahead. Remember that your boldness needs to be accepted by your team, so you may feel the need to share your vision continually.
Buoyant: celebrate wins. Highlight individual contributor successes. Praise hard work. Amplify the effort even when the team falls a little short.
Bullish: maintain a positive outlook. Reduce uncertainty. Paint a picture of achievement for the team and each individual. Look up and out.
Confident: Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan in the movie, Forrest Gump, while lashed to the top of the mast of Gump’s shrimp boat during a violent thunderstorm cry out, “You call this a storm?!” with a grin on his face and a defiant, “C’mon!” So, place your foot on the gun’l of your boat, grin into the salt spray and lead your team through the storm.
Competent: study incessantly. Read about your craft. Stay uncomfortable in your knowledge. Ask insightful questions. YOU ARE NOT THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM, but you strive to be through learning. An aura of quiet confidence is the greatest facet of a competent leader. You will demonstrate your competence every time you let your team provide the answer.
Compelling: what is it that drives someone to follow another? It’s a feeling, almost unconscious, hard to explain. Those who follow successful leaders are simply driven by the totality of the experience of being around that leader. The follower will say “It’s how they make me feel every day.” In your quiet times of reflection, think “Am I leading through actions stronger than words?”