No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Leadership is Selfless Service

Daniel Boone was more than a folk-hero. He was an amazingly effective leader, one who illustrates a fundamental reality of leadership: it has to be for the team.

Daniel Boone built a successful life in business and in the military. He made his money with honest sweat. But he didn't make it by using his followers. Boone's moments of great leadership were for the benefit of those he led, in the case of taking groups of settlers into the wilderness, or in the service of a greater ideal, such as when he led military expeditions in defense of the frontier settlements,

If you're a ladder-climber, and we all have some of that in us, drum this into your thick skull: You have to lead for the team. Your motivations and actions all have to be focused on making them more effective and making their lives better.

There are two reasons for that. The first one is the practical one that as soon as they sense you're using them for your own benefit, you'll lose them. Even if they don't quit the job, they'll quit following you beyond the letter of what they have to do.

The second reason is ethical: That's a mis-use of the resource. Your organization doesn't pay for the team so it can serve you, and it didn't make you the leader so you can build an empire. Using your people to further your career isn't a lot different than stealing.

Go ahead and work on that career; nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to leadership, your career and your team will be best served if you demonstrate your capacity for selfless service. Believe me, that will stand out like a beacon to your bosses.

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