3 things a leader needs to be thinking about

September 27, 2013

lake michigan sunset SEP 2013Good Friday morning to you!

Yesterday, I came across an excellent article on the Inc.com website – “The Re-Education of Jim Collins” by Bo Burlingham.  As you may remember, Jim Collins is the author or several outstanding books including Good to Great and Great by Choice.

In 2011 Jim Collins was offered West Point’s Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy – West Point. It was a two year appointment beginning in 2012. Mr. Collins was surprised at what he found with the students. Even though West Point is highly competitive and the cadets lives are very, very regimented, he found them to be much more collegial and much happier than any students he had come across on civilian campuses. These cadets were being constantly tested physically and mentally for four years and often falling short. Yet, these were happy, lively, and confident young men and women. Why?

Well, there are many things he discovered and comments on in this excellent article, but there are three particular things he lists in the article:

First, “If you want to build a culture of engaged leaders and a great place to work,” he says, “you need to spend time thinking about three things.”

• Service to “a cause or purpose we are passionately dedicated to and are willing to suffer and sacrifice for.”

• Challenge and growth, or, “What huge and audacious challenges should we give people that will push them hard and make them grow?”

• Communal success, or, “What can we do to reinforce the idea that we succeed only by helping each other?”

Pretty good principles. I also like the concluding paragraph:

He tells the story of a cadet who approached him after the Return on Luck seminar. “Sir, we’ve been talking about Return on Luck in the context of success,” the cadet said. “But I see luck differently. The greatest form of luck, at least for me, is the opportunity to be of service and to help others. When you’re presented with the opportunity to improve someone else’s life, to help them go through a particularly difficult challenge, to engage with great comrades and achieve a noble mission-;what could be luckier?”

That kind of attitude resonates with me. Helping others, meeting a great challenge, working with great people for a noble mission – that is the way to live.

By the way, this article brought to mind a good book Leadership Lessons From West Point. Jim Collins wrote the foreword of this book.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Peace and grace to you and your family,
BG