LDRSHIP. Although it seems to be missing a few letters, the U.S Army has used this acronym to distill the essence of leadership into a simple set of core values that have produced some of our nation's most exceptional individuals. Even if you're not (or have never been) in uniform, these same principles can help take your management skills to the next level. From the battlefield to the boardroom, LDRSHIP is the key to ensuring you have, as General George S. Patton defined it, "the capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence."
In a business setting, devotion to your company is only one small part of the leadership equation. In a broader sense, loyalty is a purely interpersonal virtue. It's about other people, not the logo on your letterhead. Refusing a job offer from a competitor pales in the face of standing up for your employees or even unduly taking personal blame for their mistakes. It's is a two-way street: the only way to have an unconditionally dedicated team is to be unconditionally dedicated to your team.
The core of duty is a personal obsession for excellence, beyond what is asked, or even expected, of you. It's an admission that only your best work is worthy of your company's name and a sound commitment to enforce these standards across your team. Early mornings and late nights are sometimes required, but the consequence of an incomplete project should far outweigh the fun of an early happy hour. This value is intended to set a tone and a work ethic, beginning with yourself and eventually throughout your team.
This one is easy, but it can sometimes be cast aside with tight schedules and approaching deadlines. A good rule of thumb is to recognize that the Golden Rule — to treat others as you would like to be treated — is universal across all levels of your company. From the mail room to the corner office, an individual must be able to empathize with their team and their managers to truly have respect for their position. This empathy is the cornerstone of respect.
As a manager, business owner or executive, your generosity and selflessness should grow as your role expands. Your employees are there to make your life easier, accomplish tasks out of your scope and help your vision come to life. In short, your personal self interests should always be secondary to those you lead. Even if your day is done, try to stay visible and accessible until the last member of your team packs up to go home.
Honor, although difficult to describe, is the act of placing all of these principles into practice. Work each and every day to become a better leader and refrain from only being loyal on Tuesdays or just respectful on Thursdays. An honorable manager or business owner has no choice but to serve their employees and make the right decisions for the good of the company, day after day.
Integrity comes from the Latin word "integer", meaning "wholeness" or "completeness," implying that this value brings a sense of peace within ourselves. Integrity is the freedom from a guilty conscience and the nagging voice in the back of our heads saying that maybe we could have made a better decision. This peace is what drives effective leaders to consistently make the right decision by trusting their gut and avoiding the guilt that comes with dishonesty.
The final piece of LDRSHIP is personal courage, a value that encourages each and every one of us to take risks and face the unknown. Decisiveness is a hallmark of all great entrepreneurs and demonstrates to your team that you have a vision for the future. Taking charge and offering the final word can be scary, the consequences of failure can be daunting and sometimes overwhelming, but a real leader overcomes these difficulties with courage and confidence.
Overall, leadership — especially in the business world — is often subjective, but can always be taught or passed along. The term "natural-born leader" is thrown around, but there is a deeper analysis that can be made to help share some of these secrets. LDRSHIP is the key to unlocking our true management potential and becoming a more well-rounded person in the process.