Simplifying Leadership—Seriously!

Business woman sipping coffee

Last month I wrote about how hard leadership is. A quick recap on why that is:

  • Total accountability. A leader can’t delegate accountability and/or responsibility to someone else.
  • When you’re in charge, you are on the hook 24/7/365.
  • The boss is the focal point for everything good/bad in your organization.

Now, this month, my goal is to offer some suggestions on how to simplify leadership. Sure, Coach, piece of cake! As Bill would say “Easy peasy”!

Confused guidance from the top leads to frustration and lost productivity on the deck plates.

The truth is that you can’t really simplify leadership, the only thing you can really do, in my opinion, is to make it more manageable.

Group meeting in conference room talking about delegation of tasks

Coach’s tip(s) of the month: If you want to simplify (manage) leadership, try these:

Provide clear, concise guidance. In the Navy, we were taught that the mission statement should answer the five Ws (who, what, where, when, why). Done right, it clearly told everyone where you wanted the command to be now. For a vision statement, we were taught to make sure 1) our goals were realistic and achievable, and 2) clearly told everyone where you wanted the command to be in the future. Confused guidance from the top leads to frustration and lost productivity on the deck plates.

Lead by example. When you lead from the front and with integrity, your co-workers will follow accordingly. This is a no-brainer! Just try to work for a boss who is clueless, and doesn’t play by the rules……you’ll get more enjoyment watching paint dry!

Communicate…..effectively and often. Your workers will respond proactively if you take the time to keep them in the loop of what’s going on in your organization, where you want it to go, and how they play into that big picture. During my career, whenever we had something big in the works, I would schedule an “All Hands Call,” where I would meet with the entire command in one setting, tell them what had happened, what is projected for the future, and most importantly, answer any/all questions they had.

When you lead from the front and with integrity, your co-workers will follow accordingly.

Spread the wealth. And finally, the best way to simplify the demands of leadership is to share some of those demands with others. As I mentioned earlier, you can’t delegate overall accountability and/or responsibility to someone else, but you can delegate some of your daily requirements, thus making your job a lot easier. Like my SEAL instructors told me very early on in training, “Ensign Havlik, an officer can’t do it all by himself! Get your people engaged and involved!”

That’s it for this month. See how simple that was! Until April, lead effectively and with accountability.

About John Havlik

CAPT John “Coach” Havlik, U.S. Navy SEAL (Retired), led special operations teams around the world during his 31-year naval career, to include the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the SEAL’s most elite operational unit. CAPT Havlik was a nationally-ranked swimmer, and is a member of the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame and Mountaineer Legends Society. @CoachHavlik www.CoachHavlik.com

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