What the Army Taught Me About Virtual Leadership

Today’s virtual, work-anywhere environment presents many interesting challenges for managers and leaders.  However, I am convinced that the fundamentals of leadership never change.  In the spirit of the upcoming US holiday, Veterans Day, I reflect on what I learned years ago while serving in the  army.  I was taught the 11 principles of leadership, and I still find that this list is as relevant today as it was when I first saw it 20 years ago.  Here is the list:

  1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement
  2. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions
  3. Make sound and timely decisions
  4. Set the example
  5. Know your people and look out for their well-being
  6. Be technically and tactically proficient
  7. Keep your subordinates informed
  8. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates
  9. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
  10.  Build the team
  11. Employ your team in accordance with its capabilities

Now, think about the list in terms of leading virtually.  Do you set the example (#4) by working remotely or working from home periodically?  Are you trying to leverage all the tools available to you to lead in a virtual environment or are you still relying on ‘old school’ styles of running things (#6)?  Are you outcome oriented or are you micro-managing how your employees get things done (#8 and #9)?  Are you creating a sense of equality and fairness between your traditional, office-based employees and your teleworkers (#10)?  I could go on.  It’s good to take a minute or two to reflect on how these principles apply to your current situation. 

In addition to the 11 principles above, I was taught that leaders are made, not born.  All of us have an opportunity to become better leaders with a little effort and hard work (see principle #1). 


P.S.  Wherever you reside, this week thank someone who has served their country.


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