By Jeffrey W. Foley
William had never felt fear before. He had just been promoted to President of the company that had grown dramatically over the past three years and they were not ready for this rapid expansion. While he felt confident that he was the best qualified for this position, he lost sleep thinking of all the leadership challenges his people were expecting him to fix. He saw himself in the image of the Greek Titan Atlas holding up the globe. He was going to need help.
The good news is William was not afraid to ask for help, and had a mentor he could turn to for that assistance. His mentor happened to be a career army officer who had developed a simple, powerful, proven model for developing leaders in the business world. He titled it BRAVE—fitting for an army guy.
What keeps you up at night? What is causing you to feel pain?
Some of the most significant leadership pains business leaders suffer from include: the shortfall in achieving desired results, the inability to attract and retain quality talent, the lack of leadership skills in managers, lack of a values-based culture that enables bad business decisions and unethical behaviors, the lack of an engaged workforce, and the lack of an inspired high-performing executive team.
The BRAVE model helped William tackle his challenges, as his company is on track for a record setting year. The model can also assuage your fears as a leader, and put you on the path to running a more stable, profitable organization.Being a great leader is tough business. It takes courage. It takes bravery. Click To Tweet
Be a leader of character
Character is at the heart of being an effective leader. It represents who you are and what you stand for. No amount of leadership or technical competency can overcome a lack of character. It begins with a comprehensive understanding of yourself—a necessary condition before you can effectively lead others. Character is ultimately defined by those values or deep beliefs that guide behavior. For leaders to be followed, they must secure the trust and confidence of their followers. The best leaders of character define and communicate those values, then bring them to life through living them, and reward others who live them.
Reinforce leader competencies
Clearly-documented leadership competencies–and their associated behaviors—make it abundantly apparent what is most important to an organization. Core competencies highlight the fundamentals of solid leadership for everyone throughout the organization. There are additional competencies commensurate with a leader’s level of responsibility. As one progresses up in the organization, responsibilities and authorities change. At the executive level, the environment is characterized by increased complexity, higher risk, greater uncertainty, and less direct control over subordinate echelons. There is risk to any organization if expectations of competencies are left up to chance. Identification of them and gaining proficiency in them requires training, tireless practice, and feedback.
Attack with a leader development program
Over the past 243 years, the army recognized the value in investing heavily in the development of leaders at all ranks. Good developments programs help prepare the current and future leaders to be prepared to lead teams and set the conditions for the organization’s future success. Once developed, rigorous execution of the program is paramount. The best leaders recognize the importance of sustained investment in the development of their people. Success stems from a culture where leaders are equipped with the mindset and passion for developing others. Leaders own the task of developing their people and cannot ignore it.
Value coaching excellence
One-on-one coaching is arguably the most important skill a leader must possess to be effective in developing others. The best leaders are great communicators who set the example for what right looks like. Great coaching skills do not come naturally to many leaders; they must be learned and practiced. When leaders ignore or short-change this critical task, their people fail to grow and reach their full potential. The consequences continue to expose themselves as their people will also fail to learn how to coach their own subordinates. The entire organization suffers. The keys to coaching success include creating a positive and open communication environment, agreeing of clear goals, and engaging in consistent dialog focused on assessment of performance and inspiring actions for the future.
Embrace trusted relationships
Trusted relationships between leaders and their people trump everything when it comes to effective leadership. A leader’s influence over others will not occur if their mutual trust is absent. For leaders to be trusted, they need to be leaders of character, competent in technical and leadership skills, genuinely care for their people, and exercise humility. The best leaders have these qualities. Trusted relationships remain in place for life. Soldiers will follow their leaders into the most dangerous places, under the most extraordinary conditions if they trust their leaders. Earning that trust is a critical task and must be mastered to be a leader in the army.
Why BRAVE? Francis Scott Key is the author of the famous words “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” He wrote those words in 1814, and since 1931, they have been sung as the national anthem of the United States. The word has powerful meanings. Being a great leader is tough business. It takes courage. It takes bravery. There are powerful lessons to be learned from the US Army. This model helped William achieve the success he was seeking, and can help you.
Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served thirty-two years in the Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Jeff uses his singular insight to build better leaders. For more information on Jeff Foley, visit www.loralmountain.com.