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Do you have a written Leadership Philosophy that is well known by all the people in your company? It’s good for everybody when the top person knows exactly what to expect of him/herself. Creating your own personal Leader’s Compass is an easy task that will reap enormous benefits.

Here’s a start: Come up with a set of guidelines for how you intend to conduct yourself as a leader.

When I was getting ready to assume command of a submarine I came up with seven guidelines for how I wanted to conduct myself and read them every day for the three years I was the CEO. Of course you probably have some good ideas for yourself. But, if you’re having trouble getting started, here are some, with a Navy slant, to get you going.

1. Be approachable and in control of yourself. If you can’t control yourself how will the crew believe you can control the ship during casualties and emergencies? If you are not approachable they will stop bringing you bad news, and that is really bad news for you!

2. Be consistent. People would rather work for a guy who is a jerk everyday than a guy who is something different every day.

3. Be fair and just. There’s no measuring stick for the ambiguous idea of being fair. Just ask yourself at the end of every day, “Did I do all I could to be fair and just with my crew?”

4. Set the Standard. The Commanding Officer sets the standard. It is entirely rare that anybody below you will set a higher standard than that which they see you setting. Don’t expect your people to have sharper looking uniforms, sport better haircuts, or salute more crisply than that which they see from you. If you walk by a small oil leak in the Engine Room and don’t say anything to the Machinery Chief, then the new standard is that small oil leaks are OK. You are constantly being watched and you are constantly setting the standard … whether you are aware of it or not.

5. Continuously supply energy and enthusiasm for whatever is to be done. Be the most excited person on the ship for the arduous and undesirable tasks. No matter how much you don’t want to do something – another drill, one more climb to the bridge, reviewing navigation charts, or clean up time – do it with enthusiasm. As in rule # 4 – nobody will be more enthusiastic than their boss about what is to be done.

6. Be Yourself … but always be the CO. Your men will never forget the sight of you doing shots at a bar with the crew. And once you do it you have given up your place in their eyes as their leader. Don’t try to be somebody else and don’t try to be popular with the crew. They want you to be their Leader more than they want you as a friend

7. Make the crew proud that I am their CO! When I walk down the pier in the morning, I don’t want the guys topside thinking, “I wish that SOB was going to another ship!” I want them thinking – “That’s MY CAPTAIN, I’ll follow him anywhere!”

Take a stab at writing your own leadership guidelines.

To learn more about Sandler’s management and leadership best practices, join us in Orlando, March 9-10, for the Sandler Annual Sales and Leadership Summit.


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