The Most Underrated Skills of Leadership and Life (Part 2)
Similar to a star quarterback managing a 2-minute drill, leaders need to make the call with conviction when it matters most. They need to galvanize the troops, execute the play, and live with the results.
Being a true leader in your family, your business, your sport, and in life is about making thousands of crucial decisions in short pockets of time. Some of those decisions can impact the next couple of hours, days, weeks, or even the next couple of years.
No matter the reason, you can't stall. You need to quickly identify what matters most and use it to push you forward.
Making moves starts with making the call.
Your quality of life is equal to the quality of your decisions. Hence, the more quality decisions you make, the more likely you improve your chance of success. As you make these crucial decisions, remember this. Time is the greatest leveler and truth-teller. It will always expose the truth, but it might take 5-10 years to reveal itself.
Think I am wrong? Just reflect on a couple of decisions you made for your business, your relationship, or your health over the last 5 years.
- How did things level out over time?
- What did those decisions reveal in the long run?
- How did it impact you over time and how did those decisions influence where you are now?
That being said, there is a great rule called the 10/10/10 rule by Chip and Dan Heath that can help you make better decisions. Every time you make a decision that can potentially move the needle in your life, ask yourself this simple question. How will this affect me in...
- 10 minutes?
- 10 months?
- 10 years?
This simple but tactical question will give you some perspective on the value of the decision and how fast or slow you should move on it. It will help identify if you should make the call in 10 minutes time or 2 weeks.
Mental cues like this can help you cut through the complexity and quickly identify what matters most.
When it comes to making a decision, speed and conviction will beat over-analysis and precision every time.
Another important rule is the 70/40 rule made famous by Collin Powell.
- If you have 70% of the information and you haven't made a decision, you are stalling.
- If you have less than 40% of the information, you need more data.
"Every decision will be different, but knowing the sweet spot of when you need to make the call and having the guts to do it is essential to anyone in life."
So if you are stuck in a rut trying to figure out your next move, quickly determine if you need more data, or you are just procrastinating out of fear.
No matter the scenario, never sit on your palms expecting the world to pull you off your seat. Just make the call and make your move.
Master Metacognition, Learning How to Learn (Rapid skill-acquisition), and Memory
I had to give you a three for 1 special because each of these skills feeds into the other. Just call it a Three-piece from Popeye's.
If you have been around any world-class leader, you might find these three specific traits.
- They are keenly aware of how they process information and how to apply that knowledge quickly.
- They are not only lifelong learners, but they have mastered the skill of learning.
- They have a great memory of the things that matter most, especially the details.
I could write a book on how much these three skills can change your life. In fact, if you mastered these three skills alone, you could be insanely successful in any endeavor.
To be blunt, it all comes down to knowing how you think, how you learn, and how well you focus.
Once you can master those three skills there really isn't anything you can't do.
Possessing these skills is the "Art of knowing yourself and applying yourself at the most supreme level." You are basically a walking triple-double that can score, pass, and rebound with the best.
Add these skills to your bag and you will easily become a thought leader in your industry in no time.
Bottom line, master the art of active learning. You will acquire more skills, be more creative, communicate better, and add more value to others. It's everything you need to be a world-class leader in your industry and in life.
If you can learn anything, you can be anything.
This skill might be the most shocking because vulnerability is often associated with weakness.
In the military, vulnerability is a synonym for deficiency, showing kinks in your armor. You are exposed to an attack by the enemy. Suddenly, your opponent can exploit the holes in your offense.
But in leadership, the power of vulnerability can be quite the opposite. It can be a symbol of strength and a tool to create community. Both of which are extremely useful to create a deeper connection with your team, your family, and your employees.
We often put leaders on a pedestal. As if they don't bleed the same way we do.
News flash, we all bleed the same way, but we all don't think the same way. This is precisely why mindset, self-image, and habits are what separates leaders from followers.
Now, I do believe we need to respect the hierarchy and the pyramid of rank. But I deeply admire leaders who were not afraid to be vulnerable and show their scars.
They don't hesitate to share their failures and personal demons. They lead with radical transparency, even if their past may tarnish their superhero status. Great leaders are too comfortable in their own skin to hide their flaws for the sake of protecting an image.
Besides, we are all prone to follow people who feel relatable. We listen to someone who has felt the same insecurities, walked the same path, and fought the same demons we have.
As a follower or teammate, I want to know that my leader bleeds the same way I do. I want to know that I am not alone in this fight.
When a leader uses the battering ram of vulnerability to break down a wall, they establish a bond with their team that is almost indestructible. Their peers become perfect soldiers. They will run through a brick wall or even take a bullet for them. Ok, the bullet may be too much, but you get my drift. They become "Ride or Die" type allies.
"A leader's accomplishments may capture the public eye, but their personal story will capture the public's heart. And once you have their heart, they are with you forever."
Now, I am not saying you need to share your laundry list of sexual escapades, personal finance history, and your social security number. But I do believe sharing hard times, exposing hidden scars, and discussing the healing process from those spears can be extremely powerful. You will undoubtedly earn a new level of respect once you take down your shield.
World-class leaders are willing to share all the ugliness and beauty that comes with the journey. They do it for the sake of educating, inspiring, and elevating their tribe.
This is the type of vulnerability that creates connection, commitment, and the ultimate buy-in from your platoon. It's about taking off the mask, stepping off the pedestal (In fact, kill the pedestal altogether), removing the title, and caring less about status and more about service.
Switching gears to even a more personal level, as a happily married man I noticed that vulnerability is mandatory to building a healthy marriage.
Personally, I believe that you can not truly be fulfilled or be in love until you allow yourself to be vulnerable. It might be high risk, but the reward of happiness and sharing an implicit trust is indescribable.
Go all in, on your team, your family, your marriage, your skills, and your inner circle. Be vulnerable until it hurts. You will soon find out, that the world will give more back to you in return.
Just keep the vulnerability to a minimum against your competitor, rivals, and enemies. Keep those people guessing and on their backfoot. The military has it right on that note.
Make the call to make moves. Think about the 10/10/10 rule by Chip and Dan Heath. Think about the 70/40 rule by Collin Powel. Recognize when to apply both rules. Identify the moments when an answer should take you 10 minutes or 1 week.
Just don't sit on your palms and watch opportunities swim by you. No one wants to float in a pool of regret.
Master the Art of Learning, Metacognition, and Memory:
- Think about how you think to manage high-pressure situations and control your behavior.
- Learn how to learn rapidly and efficiently so you can build a dynamic skill set that will take you to the top of your profession.
- Master memorization to help you with negotiations and other crucial conversations.
These three skills can change the trajectory of your career and your life.
More knowledge goes hand in hand with more skills. That lethal combination will lead to more opportunities in your industry and beyond. People who understand skill acquisition at a high level can lead at any level. They can essentially teach themselves how to do anything, which makes them valuable and dangerous in any scenario.
Use vulnerability as a way to build a deeper connection with your team. This improves alignment, commitment, and the likelihood of success.
Take down your shield. Break bread with your fellow warriors, and show them that we all bleed the same way. It will develop a kinship between your team that is almost indestructible.
We are willing to fight harder next to leaders who not only "bleed with us" but also "bleed like us".
In Part 1 of "Underrated Skills of Leadership and Life", I gave you 4 different skills. In Part 2, we added three more. Now, get ready for Part 3 as we bring this series to a close. It is coming real soon.