The Leadership Equation
J. D. Pendry
My Sunday school class is quite interesting.† With a few exceptions, most of its members are 20 years or more senior to my wife and I.† The life lessons shared in these classes are of value to anyone interested in getting it right on the one try that we have.† I realize that any mention of religion, religious practices or church will cause some folks to stop reading at this point, but this isnít about that.† Itís about the measure of your character and the quality of your leadership.
In our class lessons, something usually comes up which causes me to question my character and motivations.† For example, a recent lesson raised the question about why we do the things we do.† The issue for us to resolve was do we attend church in order to be seen with a particular group of people or at a particular place, to make business contacts with the community leaders who also attend, etc. or do we do it to get in touch with ourselves spiritually.† We all know what the answer should be, and itís an answer that points to our character.† A leaderís character determines the quality of his or her leadership.† That lesson applies to most things in our lives and careers.† Think about the things you have done as a leader or soldier.† Did you do them for the right reasons?† What was your motivation?† Again, your answers speak to your character.
We have to take these character lessons and apply them to what we do as soldiers and leaders or in my case, what I hope to do in my new life after the Army.† In doing so, think about what you could do or could have done differently or better.† That, I believe, is the most important lesson of all Ė looking at yourself and making an assessment.
Picking out the flaws in the leadership or character of others is easy.† If it wasnít, there would be a bazillion columnists and politicians out of work.† Pick up the paper, civil or military, and youíll find plenty of editorials commenting on the character or leadership of some prominent leader or group of leaders.† Unfortunately, there is hypocrisy there because too many of us making those judgments donít always practice what we preach.† Wouldnít it be astounding if you picked up the paper and in it was an editorial by a well known columnist or politician titled, ďWhat I Could Have Done Better.Ē† Thatís not likely to happen is it?† Itís simply much easier to hindsight others than ourselves and thatís why we do it.
For example, itís easier to judge how well another lives up to ďourĒ organizational values than it is to make that assessment of ourselves.† Itís also easier to judge the quality of anotherís leadership than it is to judge the quality of our own.
How do you measure the quality of your leadership?† There is a method.
To begin with, letís define leadership according to Army Field Manual 22-100:
"Leadership is the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction and motivation." -FM 22-100
Too often, we equate rank to leadership.† We do that because in the structure of a military unit, those who are senior in rank to others give direction and orders that are obeyed.† Rank may be a good indicator of who the leader is, but itís not always an indicator of quality leadership.† To understand what quality leadership means, recount your own experiences with leaders.† The odds are that you have received orders from leaders that you carried out with little enthusiasm. You have probably also received orders from leaders that you carried out with much enthusiasm.† When you understand why you responded differently to each, you'll have a good understanding of what quality leadership is.
To be an effective leader, you must gain the trust and confidence of those you lead and follow.† You can decide for yourself if you have gained trust and confidence by examining yourself with the leadership equation.
The key word in our leadership definition is influencing. Influencing is much different from telling or ordering.† Because of our rank or position, we all have the authority to tell subordinates to do something and they will usually do it.† All leaders must give orders and direction to others; however, itís their underlying character that influences followers to an enthusiastic response, not their rank.† The level of trust and confidence our subordinates, peers, and superiors have in us determines the level of influence we have with them.† If you effectively meet the blocks in the leadership equation, you'll have the trust and confidence necessary to exert leadership influence.
Demonstrated Skills + Demonstrated Ability =††††† Your Competence
Your Competence + Your Character =†††††††††† Your Trustworthiness
Your Trustworthiness =†††††††††† Level of Trust other have in you
Your level of Trust =††††††††††† Your ability to Influence others
Your ability to influence others = The Quality of your leadership
A leader demonstrates his or her character by the values and proven leadership principles they model.† Your demonstrated skills, ability and continual work toward self-improvement are whatís used to measure your competence.† Itís the combination of your demonstrated character and competence that earns you a level of trustworthiness or creditability from peers, subordinates, and superiors.† Itís the quality of your character and competence, good or bad that determines the level of trustworthiness given to you by them.† Trustworthiness simply means the degree of trust and confidence one person places in another.† When others have a high level of trust in you, you are able to exert influence on things at all levels.† That is how you measure the quality of your leadership.