This week we gather and celebrate Independence Day with parades, cookouts, and fireworks.  As you enjoy this Independence Day, please keep in mind the brave men and women who are serving and those who have served our beautiful country.  We are forever grateful to those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.  They are the real heroes and leaders of our world.

As I look back at the relentless way these men and women served our country, I discovered 10 leadership skills that any leader should possess.  In no way are these in any specific order, but they all are critical to a deeper, more meaningful and significant life.

1. Agility

Reacting quickly is an important quality of a good leader.  Not only does this mean having good reflexes, but it also means to be a quick thinker.  There are some situations when you need quick thinking on the battlefield, but also with leading people. 

2. Adaptation

If you ask any soldier, they will tell you that in the heat of combat that they will often encounter unpredictable situations.  It could be the weather, illness, or a host of other things.  Great leaders are able to adapt.

3. Initiative

You cannot teach a person initiative.  Every organization looks for employers with initiative.  Leaders that are able to step up, be decisive, and take accountability for their actions without someone telling them to do so, is a priceless quality.

4. Effective Communication

Communication is the key to great leadership.  A general officer is an officer of high rank.  This officer has to have many skills, but one of his most important skills is his ability to communicate effectively to the high rank and lower-rank officers.  As leaders, effective communication starts with listening.  Also, we understand the content and context in which we are speaking.  Even when we aren’t saying a word, we are actually delivering a message.

5. Creativity

In many of the wars from the American Revolutionary War to the Iraq War, there is usually no playbook.  It took creative minds to forge effective strategies to bring about monumental victories.  The best leaders are good at being creative in their thinking because it creates various opportunities for efficiency and profound success.

6. Curiosity

In many wars, the best soldiers are curious.  They are curious about the comprehensiveness of their duty, their mission, their own strengths/weaknesses, and the capabilities of the enemies they are likely to face.  Leaders are curious about their strengths and weaknesses, but also the strengths and weaknesses of his team and those may oppose him or her.   

7. Unconventional Thinking

It takes courage to have unconventional thinking.  There are times in war that soldiers have explained how left becomes right, right becomes wrong, and sometimes doing nothing is sometimes the best action.  This goes against what is taught to soldiers.  The same may apply to your leadership.  You have to be able to think inside the box, but you must also be able to embrace thinking outside of the box.

8. Intuition

The best and most experienced soldiers have great instincts and senses.  They are able to anticipate ambushes and enemy attacks.  Somehow these soldiers just “know.”  Great leaders just “know.”  These leaders are able to draw from knowledge, wisdom, insights, and experiences beyond nature and what others believe is humanly impossible.

9. Discipline

The best soldiers understand that discipline is all about self-control.  During the most challenging or frustrating situation, they are all about self-control.  One of the greatest virtues of a leader is his or her ability to have self-control by being patient.  These leaders are able manage their emotions no matter the condition.  

10. Learner

The best soldiers never stop learning because they are always searching for ways to better themselves, their comrades, and their country.  The greatest leaders are always developing themselves and others around them by staying on the cutting edge of learning and their industry practices.  Great leaders love to learn.

We touched on a few qualities that make up a good soldier, but also a great leader.  What are other qualities that great leaders possess?  Please leave a comment below or email me directly.


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