Freeing the Captives—How to Confront Your Personal Leadership Barriers (Part 1)

Freeing The Caged Bird

The release of Bowe Bergdahl has been a hot item in the news recently. And I’ve had several interviews on regional and national news media about what it’s like to come home after being a POW for five and a half years.

Our capture situation in Vietnam was quite different and my time in solitary confinement was short, so I’ve focused more on what it was like to return after years of poor diet, little news, periodic abuse, and isolation from family and society.

I’m glad Bowe Bergdahl is back home, and I know his family is relieved. Time will tell what the military sorts out about his capture and military service, but the discussion about him, as well as the annual celebration of our nation’s independence, has reminded me of why I’m so passionate about helping free the captives in my consulting, writing, and speaking.

What’s Holding You Back?

I’m enthusiastically focused on helping people find the freedom and courage to grow by breaking away from the shackles that are holding them back.

My observation and experience over the last forty years training hundreds of military and business leaders is that we all have mindsets, habits, and behaviors that inhibit our growth as individuals and leaders.

“We all need more freedom from these barriers, and many of these shackles come from our feelings of insecurity.”

Getting In the Way

Consider the two responses below that cause us to get in our own way, restrict us from achieving our potential, and yield major external repercussions.

1) False pride maximizes self and minimizes others.

This unhealthy response to our insecurity is a mindset of superiority that manifests as an ego-protecting pose typically based in domination, control, and perfectionism rather than authentic humility.

False pride leads to self-centeredness and makes it difficult to acknowledge the good ideas and achievements of others.

Leaders imprisoned by their ego often feel threatened by those who don’t agree with them, and soon there’s a graveyard nearby where they bury unwelcome messengers whose words of truth shine light on their dark side.

2) False humility minimizes self and maximizes others.

Some people respond to their insecurities by going in the opposite direction—living in a negative self-image in one or more areas. Their negative personal perception produces a mindset that has boxed them inside limits that are more akin to self-imposed incarceration.

Breaking Free

You may be thinking, “I can see this in others and maybe a little in myself, but it sounds pretty deep and psychological. How can we free ourselves and others from these negative patterns?”

“Professional help will be needed for some situations, but much can be done by remembering a single principle—the truth can set you free. The problem here is that a lie is operating rather than the truth.”

Identifying the Lie  

In the 2011 movie, The Help, actress Viola Davis’ character lovingly reminds Mae Mobley, a little two-year old, about her self-worth. Take a moment and watch this…

If you think about it, you’ll see that both of the career/life inhibiting responses above are undergirded by a lie about our self-worth. It’s true that we’re all flawed, but we have great value, too. It requires a healthy balance to live with these two paradoxical statements and resist living the lie of low self-worth.

“Notice that both the responses above are grounded in fear—the emotion that exercises powerful control over our hearts and minds.”

Gaining Freedom for Yourself and Others

Knowing and believing the truth about ourselves is the antidote to lies and opens the pathway to freedom. Here are two ways to embrace the truth –

1) Welcome courageous confrontation.

Remember that all development begins with self-awareness. Being honest with ourselves can be difficult because denial and rationalization are often normal protective strategies for a pose.

Do you have the courage to ask someone for honest feedback—either one-on-one or by having a coach or consultant do a 360 assessment on your leadership behaviors?

Be willing to confront yourself and break free from the lies holding you back. Likewise, it can be very rewarding to be a warrior for freedom for others. Confront the next generation of leaders to help them assess where they need to break free too.

2) Give and accept courageous support and affirmation.

Those locked in false humility need truth of their value and potential.As their leader, peer, or friend, we can be the bearers of that good news.

Years ago, I remember being affirmed by two friends about my value and worth. Initially I resisted and tried to refute their comments, but their sincerity and their personal loyalty convinced me that my perspective was a lie.

They were revealing truth that I needed in order to move to the next level in my leadership. It was powerful and liberating to have that courageous support and affirmation.

Choosing Freedom

In this season of celebrating freedom and independence, the key message here is that honorable leaders acquire the courage to confront and be confronted and the courage to support and affirm. Both approaches are needed to bring the truth that can set ourselves and others free to grow to the next level of performance.

Do you have the courage and humility to find out the truth about your leadership and then encourage others in their leadership? Your growth has much larger implications than you can imagine. In part 2 of this article we’ll explore the broad societal possibilities when we have a nation full of confident, valuable leaders.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources:media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

The VA Debacle, and Four Steps to Help All Leaders Focus on the Right Goals

I’m not convinced of the “law of attraction,” but I can say for sure that its cousin, “the law of focus” applies in leadership.

And it is this: You get more of what you focus on.

We only have to look at a few anecdotal examples to see the power of leadership focus.

The VA, Schools, and the Military

Although there are many aspects in play in the current VA debacle, one of the more obvious and blatant issues centers around “gaming” the system to meet the highly visible 14-day window for veterans being scheduled for appointments. The focus was on meeting the 14-day time frame more than taking care of the veterans**.

In another industry sector we’ve witnessed a large scandal in Atlanta in the last two years that involved teachers and administrators cheating on the students standardized tests (changing answers) in order to make sure they got better grades. The focus was on improving test scores instead of the primary mission, which was educating our youth.

In the short run this method helped the adults look like they were doing their jobs and therefore more eligible for retention and raises, but in the long run this tactic was doomed to failure and the sting of broken trust with parents and the community.

Lest you elevate your profession above these two, I can tell you from personal experience this kind of behavior can happen in any organization and with very good people.

 

Another Example

Back in the ‘70s when money and hardware in our military were short, it was impossible for some units to report C-1 (fully combat ready), yet there was so much pressure that gaming the system was not unusual. In the military culture we are taught in early training, “There are no excuses,” so many officers/leaders were afraid to stand up to their generals and say, “Sir, we’re not hacking it, and we can’t with what we have.”

These three cases illustrate situations where the focus on specific goals was counterproductive to the primary purpose of the organizations.

The problem was an extreme focus on hitting goals that were not in keeping with the stated mission, vision, and values of the organization.

Re-Focusing on the Right Goals

So how do you avoid gaming the system and still keep your credibility as a leader? Here are four steps to keep your goals pure and aligned with the mission.

1. Clarify Mission, Vision, and especially Values.

These three areas establish your purpose (why you exist), your methods (how you do your work), and your ethics (your standards and boundaries). As a leader, your number one responsibility is to clarify these areas and push that message to the lowest level of your organization. This process gives you a consistent culture that provides the same focus and built-in guardrails to keep behavior on track at all levels.

2. Communicate and Over-Communicate by Staying Engaged Up and Down.

Make sure that you develop an honest, ongoing dialogue with your people so that you know what’s really happening and they know that you’re really listening to their challenges. Remember, the higher you go in leadership, the less likely you are to get quality feedback on what’s really happening. You have to build enough trust with your followers that they can give you bad news.

3. Support Your People.

They are the ones doing the work, and it’s their responsibility to fulfill their role; it’s your responsibility is to support them. This could mean bringing in more resources, clearing out some of the red-tape and restrictions that are slowing down their efficiencies, or even redefining their goals to meet current conditions.

4. Confront Your Doubts and Fears.

This will be your biggest challenge in all three steps above. Do you have the courage to lead when it feels uncomfortable or even scary? Looking back at the three examples above, you can see that fear was the main motivator in each situation. They were focused on the wrong goals and afraid they would not meet them and therefore look bad. And when leadership caves in to fears, the outcomes are always disastrous for the organization.

So Where are You Right Now?

Keep in mind that the steps above will help you focus on the right things in your organization and allow the best goals and metrics to emerge. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you focused on the right goals?
  • Are your goals aligned with the mission, vision, and values of the organization, or are they undermining the organization’s purpose?
  • Are you setting goals that are temporarily unrealistic? If so, what will your people do? Tell you that everything is okay or share the truth you don’t want to hear?
  • Are you the leader who is afraid to tell your leader that you’re not making your goals? What will you do?

Maybe you’ve experienced one of these situations in the past as a leader or follower. We’d love to hear about it. Our readers could all benefit from your story, so please courageously share it with us.

**I addressed the VA issue on two recent radio interviews – (1) Federal News Radio and (2) “What’s Happening with Doug Wagner”

 

Related News Articles:

Exclusive: Texas VA Run Like a ‘Crime Syndicate,’ Whistleblower Says

Calls for Eric Shinseki’s resignation grow among Republicans, Democrats

Inspector general’s report confirms allegations at Phoenix VA hospital

VA Awarded $3M in Prizes in Appointment Scheduling App Contest in 2013

 

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

 

4 Fundamental Vital Signs for Healthy Organizations

In Patrick Lencioni’s latest book The Advantage, he points out that in today’s competitive world a healthy organization is likely to be the greatest competitive advantage you can have.

He’s right. So what exactly does that look like?

An Unhealthy Organization

Well, let’s take a closer look at an unhealthy organization. To outsiders like Pat and me, three strong indicators are –

• A lack of trust leading to poor teamwork and alignment.
• A lack of clarity about mission, vision, and values.
• A fear of conflict. People are not allowed to say what they really think.

With these symptoms, you can predict a lack of accountability on team goals which results in sloppy execution, inadequate results, and ultimately, a poor reputation in your industry.

A Healthy Organization

However you, the smart business leader, want the best results and a great place to work (they typically go together), so let’s consider the four fundamentals that can achieve both goals.

4 Fundamental Vital Signs for Healthy Organizations 

1. Build Trust

“Trust is the hallmark of cohesive teams. Without it, people have doubts, fears, and uncertainty making alignment and unity impossible.”

Remember that we’re not talking about baseline trust such as “Do I trust you not to steal my wallet?” Trust in this context means that I understand and accept you because you’re willing to be vulnerable and genuine.

There are no hidden agendas, so I know you won’t take advantage of me if I’m not at the meeting with the boss. This kind of trust takes time, and leaders must go first with this virtue.

2. Clarify and Over-Communicate

“Leading a business means facing many crucial issues and decisions every day, but a good leader has the ability to synthesize large amounts of information into something simple.”

Too often leaders assume that their staff see and understand what they do, and this causes many problems with execution. Imagine the quarterback having a complex play in mind, yet he only calls a short version of it in the huddle. Ten teammates must execute precisely to make the next play a success; but if they don’t have the same picture as the quarterback, mistakes will likely result in a setback.

It’s the same in business. Leaders have to continually clarify and over-communicate the message all the way to the bottom of the organization to make sure the team understands what plays the leader is calling.

3. Create a Safe Environment and Encourage Debate

“In healthy organizations there’s an absence of fear, and courage is rewarded.”

Do your people have to walk on eggshells, or do they feel safe with you? Can they disagree with you and have a fair hearing, or do your reactions equate disagreement with disloyalty? Healthy leaders invite creative conflict prior to making key decisions to get team buy in and to make sure that other reasonable ideas are evaluated.

They’re more interested in being effective than being “right.” One of the greatest desires of all people is to be understood, so show courage by listening and learning from your people. Your courage, vulnerability, and authenticity will be seen as strengths.

4. Be Courageous

“Leading isn’t easy. Every day you face tough issues, and your people are watching to see if you will walk the talk of your stated values.”

It will take all the courage you have and the support of your team and confidants to consistently lead with honor. Lean into the pain of your fears to do what you know is right, and you will send a message of healthy courage throughout your organization. Remember that positive emotions are contagious and powerful, and leaders go first.

So, what fundamentals need more work in your organization and/or leadership? Which ones are you doing well, and how did you implement some or all of these fundamentals in your culture? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: insights.jpmorgan.co.uk

4 Superhero Ways to Show Courage in Leadership

What is your greatest fear in your work? What is the one thing that you don’t want others to know about you? Perhaps it’s burying past mistakes or poor decisions, or maybe you’re in a new leadership role where you feel ashamed or ill-equipped about your lack of formal education or work experience.

If you don’t handle these nagging, fearful thoughts and feelings, then they will manifest unhealthy leadership attitudes like control and manipulation.

Understanding Courage

Unfortunately for many people, the term courage has been limited to the examples that we see in action films or books:

  • The superhero leaping from building to building
  • Jumping out of an airplane to land on a moving train to get the bad guy
  • Or simply using sheer power and strength to overcome obstacles

In reality though, most courageous acts happen in everyday life, but they may never get as much recognition on the movie screen.

4 Superhero Ways to Show Courage in Leadership 

Here are some powerful ways to show courage every day in your work 

1. Be Open, Honest, and Transparent

From my experience as a junior ranking prisoner in the Vietnam POW camp*, I was able to observe the leadership of our highest and best officers and occasionally some of the worst. The most consistent theme was courageous transparency. In the POW camps, all the niceties of leadership were immediately stripped away along with the former advantages of power and authority. Higher ranking officers were naturally the ones that the enemy focused on first and the most often. They were subject to torture more often, more isolated, were beaten more often and yet they still had to lead, make policy and then live by the policies they made. They could not hide their interactions with the enemy because it was obvious to everyone; however, they were transparent about it.

When they were beaten into submission, they would admit what they had done. The environment was amazingly transparent. There was no pretending, which quickly revealed true character.

There was always temptation to take a shortcut or say something to get the enemy off your back. In that process, I saw that courage was the key to leading with honor.

2. Learn to Trust and Be Trusted

Leaders need to take the time to build trust. It’s so important for success in work, and I don’t believe that much emphasis is given on this important principle during formal training and leadership development.

Most leaders know that they need to do some teambuilding, but they automatically think that’s singing Kumbaya and hugs; but to create an authentic level of trust, you must get to know each other.

One of the best ways to be open and gain trust is taking a personality assessment and sharing the results. A personality assessment** is the common denominator to understanding somebody’s leadership style, his or her strengths, struggles and fears. Knowing that about each other helps to build trust among team members.

3. Apply Accountability Through a Core Set of Values and Ground Rules

The issue of accountability is huge and doesn’t get enough attention; it’s often absent when clarity is also lacking. Accountability and clarity go hand in hand, and those two important concepts require leaders to define a core set of values. Organizational or team values have to be operative and not aspirational. You can have aspirational values, but you need to be clear that that is what they are. For instance, if the value is against gossiping but we still gossip, then it’s not a value; it’s an aspirational value.

Having those few core values, then preaching them from the highest to lowest levels so they are inculcated into daily work life, builds a work culture.Values will hold you together and give you the freedom to empower people in ways nothing else will.

Teams that build ground rules or rules of engagement for how they will work together can hold each other accountable in positive ways.

Values Drive Decisions theme

4. Make Steady, Daily Progress Developing Your Team or Staff

Professional development of others may not seem like a courageous act, but to do it on a consistent basis is a hallmark of great leadership.

Leaders have to be developing their people all along the way, all the time, and they need to go first by setting an example of personal growth. This allows the leader to have the credibility to mentor, coach, and make expectations known, all the while clarifying why you do things a certain way and telling stories about how you learned about this value or that leadership principle.

Making the Shift

There are many ways to be a courageous leader, and these are just a few practical ways. But you may notice that the common thread in these examples is shifting your inward focus on fears and inadequacies to an outward focus on doing the right thing to be an example and help others.

If you’re focused on building and equipping others to succeed, then courage will eclipse your own personal fears.

Choose at least one of these courageous acts of leadership, and commit to applying it in your daily work.

What other powerful ways do you show courage every day? Please share your comments!

Related Links:

*You can read stories about these courageous leaders in my latest book, Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton. Click here for details.

**Get an introductory snapshot of your leadership strengths and struggles with a FREE Leading with Honor Assessment. Click here to register.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

 

Leadership Intuition: Learning To Listen To Your Gut

Intuition

Several years ago my strategic partner and good friend Hugh Massie, Founder and CEO of DNA Behavior International, mentioned that he was learning to trust his gut instincts more.

This caught my attention since he is a CPA by training and a very results-oriented, rational person.

Then as I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, I learned about this idea of the “second mind,” as he called it. Gladwell raised the visibility of the power of intuition, but I suspect that it was only for a short time for most people.

Using Intuition

Last summer at the National Speakers Association Convention, I met a leadership consultant who was building her speaking platform around the idea that leaders (who have mostly been trained like engineers to trust rationality and disregard feelings) needed to learn to use their intuition more to make better decisions.

Just recently I read another impressive book, THE WAY OF THE SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed and was interested to see that author Mark Divine, a former CPA and Navy SEAL, made instinct (awareness of gut feelings) a major theme of the book.

His proposition is that leaders should train like Navy SEALS to intentionally use both rational (conscious mind) and instinctive (drawing from the unconscious mind) inputs to make the best decisions.

Albert Einstein didn’t read Blink, and he certainly wasn’t a Navy SEAL, but evidently he discovered this related theory early on, saying this:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

I’m seeing a pattern from these different points on the topic of intuition, so let’s explore it a bit deeper.

Examining the Gift of Intuition

Intuition is about listening to your subconscious mind (gut instincts) to pull forward information and feelings that you’ve accumulated over a lifetime. Warriors have to rely on instinct, using every possible sense from outside and every stirring from inside to stay alive.

Having a good visual memory for shapes and landforms is crucial for a military pilot. Being able to store and recall patterns of logic and information is important for an entrepreneur or business person.

Emotional memory is probably the strongest memory that we have, and it’s also the one most quickly accessed. Emotional memory is the one we feel in our gut, and it helps us access the gigabytes of memory stored in our subconscious faster than any processor yet made.

“So, intuition is this stream of awareness that flows from our subconscious to our conscious, but it requires our tuning in to hear the signal.”

Can It Be Learned?

Can intuition be learned? The short answer is yes, but the issue is whether you will develop your awareness and then allow intuition to move from your gut to your mind. It’s not a problem when data is tagged with emotions; it’s ready for quick retrieval and usually easy to access. At other times, it’s as simple as stopping to ask yourself this:

“What is my gut telling me about this—what is my intuition?”

Sometimes data needed for intuition needs help in getting to our awareness, and this situation is where we have to be more intentional about accessing it. It usually means taking time to shut down our rational thinking and reflect usually in a quiet setting away from distractions. Sounds a lot like meditation and prayer, doesn’t it? I believe it’s very similar and can be the same.

Reflecting, waiting, and listening with our feelings for insight is a practice used by wise people throughout the history of civilization.

And it has become a lost art in our increasingly fast-paced society.

If we ignore or fail to cultivate the intuitive half of our decision-making abilities, we become less than our best as leaders and merely rely on the facts at hand.

My Experience With Intuition

I think that I’m a very logical and rational person, but I’ve also been blessed with a gift for patterns and a good memory. In recent years I’ve learned to value what these gifts reveal to me and trust my intuition more.

I do have to be careful about not jumping to conclusions with too little rational information, but overall I’m feeling more confident in my decision-making and greater commitment to execution.

What about you? What has been your experience? How often do you integrate your intuition in your decision-making? Why do you believe that some leaders ignore or don’t develop their intuitive abilities when it would produce better results and greater success? Please share your thoughts and comments.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: katenasser.com

Leadership Freedom Checklist – Where Are You on the Journey?

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Leadership Freedom Checklist [Infographic] by the team at FreedomStar Media

Leading with Honor: 4 Ways to Have What It Takes

Are you alarmed by the frequency of ethical scandals in recent years?  No doubt, you have seen the headlines about Wall Street greed, but ethical problems are just as prevalent on Main Street where bookkeepers, purchasing agents, and business owners violate the trust that others have placed in them.

Lackluster Leadership

Think of the headlines in recent months:

  • A highly respected coach resigned for covering up NCAA violations by his players
  • A Congressman is convicted of accepting bribes
  • A religious leader cheated on his wife, another is accused of using his authority to fleece the flock
  • Teachers changed students’ responses on standardized tests and administrators collaborated in cover-up
  • A college inflated the average SAT score of their students to improve its image.

What is happening to our society?  Does anyone care about honorable leadership?  What can you do about it?  What have others done that might guide those of us who seek to turn the tide in this onslaught against character-based leadership?

Our Best Leadership Examples

It seems ironic that some of the best examples of leading with honor come from the POW camps of North Vietnam, an environment so life-threatening that one might expect to see frequent examples of self-centered, self-serving leadership.

But when life and limb were on the line, these brave leaders chose honor over comfort, humiliation over cooperation with the enemy.

Their courageous service can inspire and show us what is required to lead with honor, and I’ve shared my Vietnam POW story and 14 leadership lessons learned in my latest book, Leading with Honor: Leadership Lesson from the Hanoi Hilton.

4 Lessons of Courageous Leadership

Let’s look at a few of the lessons that I learned from these courageous leaders.

1) Know Yourself

The POWs leaders were experienced and strong yet they had no choice but to be humble. The enemy used torture and isolation to try to break their will and force them to cooperate in making propaganda. They were vulnerable, stripped to their core; they could not pose or pretend they were something they were not.  Fortunately, they were solid—healthy people with a strong character that enabled them to lead with honor through the most unimaginable humiliation.

“If you don’t know yourself and have a peace about who you are, your fears and insecurities will take you out.”

Rather than pursuing your passion and purpose using your unique talents, style, and convictions, you will constantly be comparing yourself to others and trying to guide your life by someone else’s ways and standards. Alternatively, when you know and accept yourself, you can be authentic, leading from your own true north. Objectively knowing your strengths gives you confidence, while awareness of your weaknesses gives you humility.

Few will ever be POWs, but eventually we will all face situations that expose who we really are.  Spend time with yourself and go deep. Accept who you are, but realize there is always room for growth; work every day to build yourself strong so you can lead authentically, from the inside out.

2) Clarify Your Values and Standards and Commit to Them

The POWs had a uniform code of conduct that everyone knew and was charged with following. It acted like signs along the road giving direction and providing a framework for decisions, choices, and behaviors, helping them stay on the right path even in the most difficult situations.

Unfortunately, most people have only generic assumptions and a superficial understanding about their moral values and ethical commitments.

Jeb Magruder, White House advisor who went to jail, said that he had been taught right but somewhere along the way he “lost his ethical compass.”  We are all cut from the same cloth as Magruder and without regularly clarifying our commitments, we will drift off course as well.

3) Confront Your Doubts and Fears

Fears and insecurities take out more leaders than anything else and they generally can be traced back to the first point above—your identity—knowing who you are and being comfortable with yourself. Even the smartest, toughest, and best leaders face insecurities and fears.

The POW leaders were tough warriors but they all struggled with fear. Commander Jim Stockdale endured frequent physical abuse and more than four years in solitary confinement, so naturally, there were fears, but he did his duty and suffered the consequences. Great leaders know that fear is the norm, and they know they must lean into the pain of their fears to do what they know is right.

“Courage does not mean that you are not afraid, but that you do what is right when it feels scary or unnatural.”

4) Connect with Your Support Team

In your struggle to lead with honor, you are like any other warrior—it’s not good to fight alone. That’s why the enemy tried so hard to isolate the POWs in North Vietnam and why the POWs risked everything to keep the communication lines open. Even the toughest POWs relied on the counsel and encouragement of their teammates.

Authentic leaders realize they cannot see every situation objectively.

On the tough choices, you will usually need the perspective of someone who is outside the issue to help you evaluate the situation. Build a network of a few key advisors who can help you navigate the treacherous waters ahead.

Final Thoughts

Our culture desperately needs men and women who will lead with honor. Don’t take it for granted that you will lead honorably. Engage in the battle required to guard your character.

To be prepared, know yourself, clarify your values, standards, and commitments, confront your doubts and fears, and connect with your support team.  Then you are ready to face the giants and avoid the headlines of failure.

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Special note from Tom Schulte, Editor and Publish of L2L:

Leading with Honor book

How did American military leaders in the brutal POW camps of North Vietnam inspire their followers for six, seven, and even eight years to remain committed to the mission, resist a cruel enemy, and return home with honor? What leadership principles engendered such extreme devotion, perseverance, and teamwork?

In this powerful, practical, award-winning book, Lee Ellis, a former Air Force pilot, candidly talks about his five and a half years of captivity and the fourteen key leadership principles behind this amazing story. His story has been featured on networks such as C-SPAN, CNN, ABC World News, and Fox News Network as well as hundreds of speaking engagements throughout the world. Learn more about Leading with Honor.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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