Leadership Nirvana … What the heck is that?

There have been times in my career when I have experience what can only be described as leadership nirvana when I have been part of teams that seemed invincible. Teams that were much more than the whole being more than the sum of its parts: We were exponentially greater!

Even writing this – recalling those times when the team pulsed and hummed with potential – I feel my pulse quicken, the adrenaline courses and I still get a endorphin rush.

During the early years of the Bosnia/Croatia war I was the Sergeant Major of a company of infantry soldiers who were rated the most combat ready in our division. We were skilled, efficient, driven, hungry and proud!

We were proud of our accomplishments and so loyalty to each other that we would rather die than let someone down. We were in the highest level of service to each other.

Servant leadership might be the antithesis of your thoughts on Army or, possibly, business leadership. Nonetheless, this was the ultimate example of Servant leadership—focusing first on the needs of soldiers in order to achieve results.

3 Actions

What is the underlying methodology for achieving this remarkable accomplishment?

It was leadership through ACTing, BEing and DOing!

  1. ACT with Knowledge & Skill

Our leadership team worked unbelievably hard to refine our skills and knowledge. Hours and hours of drills and exercises were held so that when we put the whole team in the field we did not waste our soldiers’ time as guinea pigs.

Each team member was employed at a level that magnified their skills; they were given clear objectives; and, most importantly, allowed to do their jobs. We expected stretch goals from everyone and knew each person had the ability to meet our expectations.

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  1. BE Courageous

We were courageous. This was not with hubris, but courage of humility and selflessness. We needed our soldiers as much or more than they needed us. Even the lowliest private knew that he had a voice and often their ideas saved many blistered feet and, arguably, lives.

We fearlessly, not recklessly, approached every objective with a focus on success.

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  1. DO you job with purpose and motivation

Every soldier was proficient and skilled at the job and knew how they contributed, laser-like, to meeting our goals. The Officers and NCO’s ate last, slept less and were expected to be experts at leading their teams.

As leaders we ensured that each person knew how their work contributed to our overall success. We were all motivated by being part of something exponentially bigger than ourselves.

What happens in your place of work?

It may be obvious to find leadership euphoria when the goal is honourable. But trust me, it isn’t a given.

All organizations struggle with developing the leadership culture required to achieve nirvana.

That said I felt close in less dramatic settings, like nailing a project or closing a big deal.

It doesn’t happen every day and you may never reach it, but it is to Act, Be and Do your job as the leader to clear the path to nirvana!

 Click here to get free PDF copy of Steve’s book You Can’t Lead From Behind: What I learned in combat about leadership, people, and profit

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