Monday, August 8, 2016

Chapter 6 - Principle #5: Lead from the front

This principle can best be summed up with this phrase.  "When you are in charge, take charge”.  That may sound a bit harsh, but teams and organizations suffer when the person who is supposed to be leading shirks their duty and does not step up to the responsibility of leadership.   General Norman Schwarzkopf said it in another way, “When placed in command, take charge.”  Leading from the front involves using the “come with me” approach to leadership.

I think one of the great scriptural examples of this principle is found in the Book of Mormon Chapter 2.
 1 And it came to pass in that same year there began to be a war again between the Nephites and the Lamanites. And notwithstanding I being young, was large in stature; therefore the people of Nephi appointed me that I should be their leader, or the leader of their armies.
 2 Therefore it came to pass that in my sixteenth year I did go forth at the head of an army of the Nephites, against the Lamanites; therefore three hundred and twenty and six years had passed away. (Mormon 2:1-2) 
Notice how Mormon accepted the responsibility to lead the armies of the Nephites and that he went forth at the head of the army.  He didn’t try to lead from the back or from a place of safety, he accepted his leadership responsibility.

There are similar examples in others leaders in the book of Mormon.  Think of the great warrior leaders like Captain Moroni (Alma 43:16), Teancum (Alma 52:33-34), and Lehi (Alma 53:2).  These great leaders all knew what it means to step forward and take charge.

Leading from the front does not mean that you have to be the best at everything your team is working on, but you do have to be competent.  During my time as a pilot in the Air Force I had the experience of being in a squadron where the squadron commander neglected his responsibility to maintain his flying proficiency.  He quickly came to be considered the worst pilot in the squadron.  Because of his lack of competence in the aircraft he lost the respect of his entire squadron.  The flight schedulers would only put him up to fly with the very most proficient instructor pilots because they knew he was lacking in flying proficiency.   The lesson learned from this poor leadership example is that you gain the trust of your team as you demonstrate both character and competence.  When competence is lacking, trust in leadership vanishes.


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