I have yet to see American Sniper, we have been waiting for the crowds to die down, and have been busy with our children’s activities. But I have seen many of the long trailers (They make me tear up every time). I have read the book, and it has brought back memories of my time in the Army.
I was 18 when I joined the Army, and fresh out of high school. I was cocky and a know it all, and not very disciplined to say the least. The Army taught me many lessons, but not the least was teaching me what it took to lead. My Drill Sergeant rode me pretty hard because I made the mistake of not signing a wavier after the first say of basic. I thought by not signing the wavier they would just send me home. And I could not have been more wrong. Thus began my constant unwanted attention of my drill instructors. I signed the wavier after, let’s just say, an eventful evening.
After two weeks of enduring all they could throw at me, and becoming very humble in the process, our lead Drill Instructor made me platoon leader. He also handed me something I have kept with me my entire life. The Army’s 11 Principles of Leaders:
Principle #1 – Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement – Develop a plan to keep your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.
Principle #2 – Be Technically Proficient – Not only do we know our duties and responsibilities, we know all those of our team members, and we look to our leaders and concern ourselves with learning their duties and responsibilities.
Principle #3 – Seek Responsibility and Take Responsibility for Your Actions – We are not satisfied with performing just our duties to the best of our abilities, we look to grow and seek further challenges, and always, when in charge, accept the consequences of our decisions, absorb the negative and pass on the praises.
Principle #4 – Make Sound and Timely Decisions – Leaders must be able to reason under the most critical condition and decide quickly what action to take.
Principle #5 – Set the Example – No aspect of leadership is more powerful. Our personal example affects people more than any amount of instruction or form of discipline. We are the role model.
Principle #6 – Know Your Personnel and Look Out for Their Well Being – Leaders must know and understand those being led. When individuals trust you, they will willingly work to help accomplish any mission.
Principle #7 – Keep Your Followers Informed – Our team members expect us to keep them informed, and where and when possible, to explain the reasons behind requirements and decisions. Information encourages initiative, improves teamwork and enhances morale.
Principle #8 – Develop a Sense of Responsibility in Your Followers – The members of a team will feel a sense of pride and responsibility when they successfully accomplish a new task given them. When we delegate responsibility to our followers, we are indicating that we trust them.
Principle #9 – Ensure Each Task is Understood, Supervised and Accomplished – Team members must know the standard. Supervising lets us know the task is understood and lets our team members know we care about mission accomplishment and about them.
Principle #10 – Build a Team – Leaders develop a team spirit that motivates team members to work with confidence and competence. Because mission accomplishment is based on teamwork, it is evident the better the team, the better the team will perform the task.
Principle #11 – Employ Your Team In Accordance With Its Capabilities – A leader must use sound judgment when employing the team. Failure is not an option. By employing the team properly, we insure mission accomplishment.
These 11 principles translate into all forms of leadership. Be it leading a business, a team, a project, or a church group. I have used these principles ever since I received this gift from a man, I at first thought hated me, then realized made me a better person. That alone was a huge lesson in leadership for me, I hope these principles can serve others well in the future too.
Photo credit: Tyler J. Bolken / Foter / CC BY
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