Are You Up for the Challenge?

I had the great delight to host the Challenge to Lead Gala Dinner on Saturday. The guest speaker was Colonel Marcus Fielding, military strategist, author of Red Zone Baghdad and philanthropist.

It was interesting to hear his perspective on leadership. The difference in leadership style between nations, situations, genders and personalities. One of the comments that stuck with me is that Leaders are also the best Followers. They know that sometimes it is time to lead and other times you need to follow. While he mentioned many leadership theories, the underlying theme was that leadership is about trust. Trusting yourself, trusting those around you and trusting those that support you.

Trust takes courage – particularly in a time of war or a military presence. My experience is that Trust is built continuously. It is built in the social conversations, the pressure free interactions as well as when you and the team are operating under pressure.

Colonel Fielding said that one of reasons our Governor General Peter Cosgrove is seen to be a strong leader is that he is very skilled at small talk and will happily talk with anyone over a cup of coffee, glass of beer or drinking straight from the military canteen. To me, this is a natural trust building exercise and I suspect it is something that he does naturally.

Leadership (whether it is formal or informal) is a challenge. It is knowing what NOT to do as well as knowing what TO do. It is a blend of science and art. All the knowledge on leadership principles and the history of great leaders is a complete waste if you are not up to the challenge to act on that knowledge and act with an instinctive reflex.

So are you up for the Challenge?