Character Corner: The Serving Leader

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- I recently read an excellent book called "The Serving Leader" by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert. The book didn't really present new information as much as it stated known leadership attributes in simple terms. The book covered five areas in which a leader should strive to excel:

-- Set clear goals and make them high but obtainable. Make certain all your followers understand that goal and that it will take their best efforts to be successful; as a leader it's your job to motivate them to that success. 

-- Rather than putting yourself at the top of the organization, put yourself at the bottom. Focus on the needs of your team members and not the needs of yourself, but strive to meet everyone's needs--to include yourself.

-- Set high expectations for your team; they will rise to meet your expectations. After 25 years of military service, I have witnessed many teams rise to meet their leader's expectations -- at times to levels I didn't believe possible.

-- Remove obstacles from the team's path. Make certain your team has the resources required to reach the goal; not only tangible resources such as equipment and supplies, but intangible resources as well, such as knowledge and motivation. 

-- Finally, minimize the team's weaknesses and focus on their strengths. Look closely at the skills and positive attributes each team member brings to the fight and assign them roles accordingly. Everyone has strengths, and it's important to use those strengths.

As a leader, it's your responsibility to accomplish the goal with the resources allotted; focusing on the areas above will help you accomplish your goal and take care of your team at the same time. Remember, mission first, people always!