The United States Army developed these 11 Leadership Principles in the early 1950’s. They are still taught and are still effective, so it seems we may be able to learn something from them as business people. The final principles that make up numbers 8-11 focus on the people who are key to your success and the success of your organization.
Principle # 8 – Develop a Sense of Responsibility in Your Followers
When we give others the ability to be responsible and expect them to be responsible (see Principle number 3) we are in essence telling them “I trust you”, “you can do this”. This goes a very long way in building your team (see Principle 10). Further, building the sense of responsibility in your followers allows you to delegate to your team, thus allowing you to concentrate your efforts where they should be, which is on the tasks that only you can do.
I will have to give myself a 4 on this. I don’t have a problem giving people the ability to be responsible. My problem that I historically have not set up a good check-and-balance system to follow up to ensure they are meeting the expectations set for them. (See Number 9)
Principle #9 – Ensure Each Task Is Understood, Supervised and Accomplished
This is an area where I need improvement. My best example is not work related. It is home related. I had my young teenager mow the lawn recently. I went out to check on him after a little while to see how things were going. As you might imagine, they were not going very well. He was cutting a random pattern in the grass leaving clumps throughout the yard. I stopped him and said “Son, what are you doing. How many years have you watched me cut the grass? Have you ever seen me cut it that way?”. His very sincere response was, “I have never watched you cut the grass.”
The task was not understood. It was very poorly supervised. It was accomplished, however. BY ME!
I have to give myself a 3. You can’t make assumptions. In order to get your team to where they can effectively accomplish the tasks given, you have to invest time on the front end. I have a very hard time investing on the front end.
Principle #10 – Build a Team
Team building is not about sitting through a team building exercise. Team building is about finding the right people and having them in the right roles. It is about having them focused on a common goal. It is about celebrating and awarding individual and group accomplishments. It is about everyone having a sense of ownership of their role and an understanding of how their role contributes to the overall success of the organization.
I have to give myself a 3 on this one. I have managed teams. I have hired individuals. I have had the teams looking in the same direction, but I am being honest in this series, so I have to say that I have stumbled a little bit in hiring the right people in the past, which is the most critical part of the equation.
Principle #11 – Employ Your Team In Accordance With Its Capabilities
You can’t build a baseball team and expect them to play basketball successfully just like you can’t expect your bookkeeping team to be financial analyst (without training). There are many examples of leaders taking their teams 1 task too far or taking their businesses one product too far that turned out to be poor choices in the long run. When you employ your team in accordance with its capabilities you are giving your team the chance to exceed expectations and to grow. As the team has more successes and increases its capabilities you are then able to increase its responsibilities. If you exceed the team’s capabilities you are setting it up for failure, which could have a ripple effect across your organization.
I am giving myself a 4 on this one.
I hope you have taken some time to score yourself on a scale of 1 – 5 on your own leadership skills based on the 11 Leadership Priniciples I have been writing about. The process of writing these principles has given me good reason to reevaluate where and how I spend my time as the leader of Insightful Accountant. It has caused me to sit back and evaluate myself in the 11 areas and, as I have shared, unearthed some areas where I need to improve my skills. I hope you have found some areas of strength and some areas in which you can concentrate your efforts to improve your own success and that of your team.