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It Doesn't Take a Hero: Leadership Values and Ideals of Norman Schwarzkopf

The History of Leadership: You would be amazed to know- It’s no multi-billionaire industry/industrialist that initiated the leadership revolution. The leadership attribute was first displayed by some great military leaders who showed promising results in wars and left behind legacies.

Today’s Industry has a lot to say and expect when it comes to leadership characteristics -- the humility, the aspects of being courageous, the mindfulness towards changes, the practice of listening with curiosity and accomplishing with integrity. But nothing seems plausible when you’re left with surreal theologies in a real dimension. You know the things that are absolutely needed yet unattainable considering your ability and knowledge.

In this post, I want to share the wisdom of Norman Schwarzkopf, the former U.S. army general and author of - It Doesn't Take a Hero. You will get to read his 14 rules of leadership (outlined in the book) which offers an authentic vision model for the modern leaders.

1. Leaders lead people, not systems or processes. This seems quite obvious and simple however it’s stunning to see how often leaders can lose sight of this. I’ve seen it over and over again. When the focus becomes the process, nothing gets accomplished and everyone seems to lose.

2. Character. People pick the character (ethics, sense of morality) to follow during times of crisis. People want to follow someone who has the strength of character to do the right thing. A person with character quickly earns respect which is another essential of a great leader.

3. Don’t tell them how to do the job! Allocate resources, set standards, and the results will exceed expectations. Leaders do not deal with how to get the job done, they surround themselves with talent, allocate resources, remove roadblocks and allow the talent to excel.

4. Leadership must be respected, even though not loved. Make it happen and take responsibility. You can delegate authority and still take responsibility. It is more important to be respected than to be loved. Leaders do not seek to be pleasing first.

5. The true rewards of leadership come from leadership itself – not the next promotion or tangible reward. Do not seek rewards; leadership is its own reward.

6. No organization will get better until leadership admits that something is broken. The prevalent can do attitude must be willing to accept you can’t do before you know something has to change.

7. The climate must allow people to speak up.

8. Leaders establish goals for an organization. They must be understood and know their role in reaching the goal. FOCUS is the number #1 goal in the military. The greater the number of goals, the more confusion you get. Creating focus is the number #1 priority for a leader. Excellent leaders instill focus by creating shared goals that are clear and understood; everyone understands their roles in achieving the shared goals.

9. Leaders set high standards; they don’t accept low standards. They set expectations. People go to work to succeed, not to fail.

10. Leaders set high standards and clarify their expectations. They then expect that people will go to work on achieving these standards.

11. Recognize and reward success – it is infectious. Failure is contagious. Leaders recognize and reward success. They understand deeply that both successes, as well as failure, are contagious.

12. Accept a few mistakes. Provide the latitude to learn. Leaders accept a few mistakes but also, create the latitude and atmosphere to learn.

13. When placed in command, take charge. Even if the decision is bad, you have set change in motion. It is better than being stagnant. When placed in command, take charge.

14. Do what is right. It is a sign of character. Have the strength of character – a prerequisite to having the courage to do the right thing. Do the right thing – have the moral courage to do the right thing.

He also adds,
Leaders love their “troops” (teams) and let them know in many ways. Another aspect of leadership I’ve seen hold true. When the people we lead truly know that we care, it can make all the difference.

Here’s my in-depth explanation to Norman’s idea (From the aspects of Enterprise and leadership):

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The above-mentioned rules are the depiction of a conscious leadership (or intended leadership)-- it is about having a clear and strong will to lead.

In a time of significant enterprise change, when things are prone to go wrong -- the so-called “smart managership” might be a burden on the people, system, and process. For instance, there’s this certain kind of view about managers-- where most of the team members expect --He’s in charge. That’s why he’s got a plan imprinted on his DNA. All we have to do is follow what he says. It's like we have developed some religious views (in a workplace) that have surpassed our human intelligence. Which of course had a chance to get filtered, if we would have built the workplace culture considering human empowerment. Therefore it is fundamental for a manager to be a leader.

So, how can we do it differently? How can we be able to navigate the work, the culture (with professionalism, dedication, and human kindness) and figure out how to open the door to the solution?

1. You should always remember that many of your one-sided plans are not up to the worth because it doesn’t involve every individual's perspective and acknowledgment. There’s is also a chance of impeding the natural flow of creativity and ideas in that particular workplace. 

2. Question yourself-- What is your organization's goal? Does it intend to create more leaders or few leaders--many followers.

3. Do your people feel satisfied just by following orders without having a space to speak.

4. Standing on the ever-changing landscape why do you hesitate to change yourself? Do the inherent traditions worth risking your vision and the shared vision of your team/organization?

5. What kind of organization you’re building- a culture that takes control or the one that gives control.

6. Above all- do you not feel frustrated when you’re called out for every single thing. Many times, you must have wondered why things don’t happen the way you plan. Why your Team often lags in self-managing and decision-making while facing uncertainties?

Another of Norman’s rule that says,
“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”

What’s the point here?
If we are to build the Enterprise leadership, we first need to figure out what is the intent behind. Rather than looking at the logical goals (set by someone), set your eyes on the visions which are often considered grand and unrealistic. Because you don't know what you can do untill you try. Scrutinize your inner fears and take them as the challenges you need to encounter to protect the things that are important to you.

Besides your own understanding, it is necessary to convey your intent to your working team. Tell them why you want to do this rather than giving them a task list (or making them reliant). Call out to them with your honest words. Specify them goals, not methods. Show them the big picture, where their contribution is highly valued. Make them Feel empowered, independent and creative.


P.S. I believe, this is the time to go back, forget the outlandish reasons that have a hold on you and take a leap towards your ideal ways of doing things.. I personally find people fascinating who chase dreams that other hallmarked as impossibles.


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