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Military Leadership: Strength (and Success) in CEO Selflessness

It’s easy when you’re in a position of leadership to look at your employees as those in service to you. …

It’s easy when you’re in a position of leadership to look at your employees as those in service to you.  And, why not? They work for you and ultimately answer to you.  But, the reality of the situation is that good CEOs look at the leadership structure from the opposite point of view. Strong leaders serve those that answer to them.

Col. Eric Kail has written a series of leadership articles for the Washington Post. Kail has commanded field artillery companies and battalions and is now the course director of military leadership at West Point – so he knows what he’s talking about.

Col. Kail sees true leadership as selfless rather than selfish.  He cites advice given to him, “To lead is to serve; nothing more, nothing less.”  And what he means by this is that leaders need to find out what their team needs from them.  Here are a few excerpts to summarize the piece:

  • “Selflessness is all about strength, and it’s not for the faint of heart.”
  • “Real strength is measured by what we enable our followers to accomplish through our service to them, not by the pressure of our grip and the weight of our demands.”
  • “You need to be out front where the action is – not doing everyone else’s job or micro-managing, but learning what the people of your organization really need from you.  And when you ask them what you can do for them, make sure you are listening instead of waiting to talk.”

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