Leading From The Front

George S. Patton

It’s finally here, 2023, yeah!!!  Is there something special about 2023?  Not really.  I actually always celebrate the first week of the new year because it means we’re getting back to normal.  All the disruptions of the holidays are behind us.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays AND I also love when they’re over.  Too much of a good thing and all that.

With a week of the new year under our belt, 25% of you who have made a new year’s resolution have already given up.  That number will grow each month until, according to a couple of studies, roughly 10% of people will feel they were successful in keeping their resolution.  If you are the 1-in-10 who will be successful, congratulations in advance.

If you’re interested and lead a team, I’d like to give you a resolution that, if kept, will hugely impact your organization for the better.  I repeat after me:

“I promise to lead by example.”

There it’s that simple.  In the words of General George S. Patton

 “Do everything you ask of those you command.”

Of course, what Patton was saying was “lead by example.”  Something he was famous for.  In WWI, as the commander of the 304th Tank Brigade, he led from the front, clearing away a pathway for his tanks to advance.  He was later wounded while leading a tank and a six-man team to take a machine gun nest.  He continued leading from a shell crater for 30 minutes before being evacuated and even then, insisted on filing a report before allowing his men to take him to a hospital.

Patton extolled the very characteristics he personally demonstrated, courage, grit, and honor.  He never asked of anyone that which he didn’t demand of himself.  His team, his men, were a direct reflection of Patton.  By this I don’t mean their success reflected well on him, I mean they acted as he acted.  Over the years I have found this to be true of every leader.

Leaders who don’t start their meetings on time, don’t show up to work when they said they would, don’t provide information to their team when they said they would, that is don’t respect their own or others’ time, have teams that miss deadlines, show up late to work, and don’t return client calls in a timely fashion.

Leaders who don’t follow through with their promises are willing to mislead prospects to get a new client, or outright lie about anything have team members who are willing to steal time or supplies and lie to customers and vendors.

In my Life or Death Accountability workshop I ask attendees what keeps them from holding their teams accountable.  Usually, someone replies, “then they’ll expect me to be accountable.”  That sums it up nicely.  Your team will never be more than you are.  If you want your team to grow, you need to be willing to grow yourself.  You have to lead from the front. Do as Patton did and demonstrate the virtues you extol.  Remember, if you aren’t growing as a person, neither will your team.

If you aren’t sure where to start, look at your team, specifically the areas that need improvement.  Then ask yourself “where does this show up in my life?”

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