We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us… If your gift is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8)

This week I want to focus upon the question of what it means to lead diligently.  I attended a fundraiser with a fellow Corpath member a while back.  During the speaker’s presentation, I saw that my friend only reached for his notepad once to take notes.  When I commented on this, he replied, “The presenter is speaking on leadership – I am always interested in improving my leadership.”

What made his reply even more remarkable to me, is that my friend is at the top of his profession and is a recognized leader in his industry in Calgary.  Yet, he recognizes the need for a leader to continue training and that the task of being diligent about his leadership never ends.

This same spirit is found in a recent article I read which provides some great teaching on this point.  Brent Gleason is an ex-Navy Seal who writes a column, “Battlefield to Boardroom,” for the www.inc.com website.  He started his column with the Navy Seal Creed:

“We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me. My training is never complete.”

Gleason then shares in his article the following points on practicing diligence in leadership:

“Becoming a Navy SEAL involves a year of the most intensive physical and mental training the U.S. military has to offer… The training never ends, and every single mission is rehearsed.

It’s no different in business. Leaders usually know that their people need training and development. The smartest leaders understand that the same applies to them–and that the need is ongoing.

Here are five responsibilities that ensure leaders can never stop training:

  1. Leaders define the mission.  A clearly defined mission starts with the leadership, is ingrained in the team, and is constantly reviewed. Mission success relies more on training than it does on planning. Rarely is a plan executed exactly as it has been laid out, because external forces prevent this. Thus the leadership and team must be ready to adapt. Adaptation requires ability, and ability comes from training.
  2. Leaders set, and reset, the vision. It’s up to leadership to know when shifts in a company’s vision must happen. The organization’s ultimate direction may not change but how you get there most certainly will. That means having a keen understanding of industry trends, economic cycles, and competitive movement. Leaders must be constantly acquiring knowledge and looking to the future.
  3. Leaders build the team. As a company grows it will require different types of talent. If you find the right people and train them accordingly, they will stick around and the business will thrive. It takes good leadership to identify who to hire and the roles to put those people in. This too requires ongoing knowledge development.
  4. Leaders embrace the necessity of growth, both personal and professional. If the mind and body are not in a constant state of growth, eventually things stagnate and progress stalls. Instilling the importance of learning in the team is one thing, but leadership has to embrace this first. Great leaders are always seeking knowledge, developing their minds, and maintaining their bodies. Mental and physical wellness is essential for optimal leadership.
  5. Leaders execute. An organization’s strategic plan means nothing without exceptional execution. As a company grows, the methods of mission execution will change. So will the way in which products and services are provided. The leadership has to build this into the culture, provide the team the proper resources, and remove obstacles. Companies that fail do not fail because the plan wasn’t good enough. They fail because the leaders didn’t execute.

These five responsibilities require leaders to be in a perpetual state of development. Get on it!”

[from www.inc.com – Battlefield to Boardroom – March 21, 2013]

John Wiseman – Corpath – www.corpath.ca