I love biographies, do you?
Can’t remember who it was, but I heard someone implore business owners and leaders to read them often because…
“They don’t right biographies about losers”.
What’s your favourite biography?
Mine, hands down is “About Face”.
It’s the life of (at the time) America’s most decorated living soldier, Colonel David Hackworth.
Colonel Hackworth passed away in 2005 from pancreatic cancer. Some have claimed his illness resulted from his exposure to the defoliant “agent blue” (similar to agent orange) used to kill off large tracts of jungle during the Vietnam war.
There is a tenuous personal link between me and Colonel Hackworth…
When I was at uni he came to speak to my history class. He was mates with then lecturer Dr Joseph Siracusa, probably the best teacher I ever had at tertiary level. His classes were always fun and informative.
Back to Colonel Hackworth… the one thing I remember about him was he was a dynamic, larger than life character with forearms the size of cow legs.
He’s also reputed to be the one who uttered in real life, Robert Duval’s famous words from Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning… it smells like… victory”.
Anyway Col Hackworth, repelled by the horrors of war turned peacenik and anti-nuclear campaigner in the 80s and lived in Australia until the late 90s when he returned home.
His story is one heck of a read, and not for the faint hearted.
One of the things which I still remember from the book is Hackworth referring to one of his mentors, a Colonel Glover Johns, and his take on what it means to be a leader.
Yep, can hear you saying how we could use some strong leadership at all levels in this country right now…
Anyway, the venerated Colonel Johns lived his 30+ year army career according to his 15 principles of leadership.
Here they are…
1. Strive to do small things well
2. Be a doer and a self-starter – aggressiveness and initiative are two most admired qualities in a leader – but you also must put your feet up and THINK
3. Strive for self-improvement through constant self-evaluation
4. Never be satisfied. Ask of any project, How can it be done better?
5. Don’t over-inspect or over-supervise. Allow your leaders to make mistakes in training so they can profit from errors and not make them in combat
6. Keep the troops informed; telling them “what, how and why” builds their confidence
7.The harder the training the more troops will brag
8. Enthusiasm, fairness and moral and physical courage – four of the most important aspects of leadership
9. Showmanship – a vital technique of leadership
10. The ability to speak and write well – two essential tools of leadership
11. There is a salient difference between profanity and obscenity; while a leader employs profanity (tempered with discretion) he never uses obscenities
12. Have consideration for others
13. Yelling detracts from your dignity; take men aside to counsel them
14. Understand and use judgement; know when to stop fighting for something you believe is right. Discuss and argue your point of view until a decision is made and then support the decision whole-heartedly
15. Stay ahead of your boss
Makes you think a little doesn’t, about your own leadership style in your business.
Not sure about you but I love #2 how he says you need to take time to put your feet up and think.
In today’s rush rush, need answers now world of instant gratification, this I believe is needed more than ever.
Challenge: when was the last time you stopped to think? I mean really think. Shut the door. Turned the phone off or put on the Do Not Disturb. And just sat or walked around the office and let ideas come to you?
It’s amazing what our brains are capable of if given free reign like this.
You see the success of any venture, personal or professional, is largely determined by the quality of thinking of the leader/s.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, A mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
So yes, take time to think and stretch your mind, the future of the business may very well depend on it.
To your success,