Shoot for the stars

Managers can often appear trigger happy; shooting from the hip and the consequences on relationships can be dire. Many of you will know I take inspiration from everything around me and this short blog is no exception. I have recently been reading several books about the Afghanistan war in preparation for a family member joining the army. One book in particular was recommended to me – ‘The Longest Kill’ by Craig Harrison. Some of you may find this particular source controversial – it is intended to be an example of looking beyond the surface and in doing so provide some ideas and reflection that can easily be applied in our day to day work.

Craig was a sniper in the British Army and his story is an incredible read about what it takes to the best.

It also is a great lesson in leadership.

  • A sniper is a person who is highly trained to perfect a shot at a distance.
  • They often have a role of ‘overwatch’ in which they take a position to observe the terrain ahead in support of advancing troops.
  • One of their job is to spot enemies and protect their platoon.
  • They usually cover their bodies to blend in with the natural surroundings to make it difficult to spot them.
  • Theirs is a job of accuracy; a missed target could be fatal for their own troops. It is a job with huge responsibility.
  • They must be calm in the face of extreme conditions and adversity have; be courageous and loyal.

So here are my key takeaways:

  1. Be precise: Remain laser focused on your goals

Avoid getting dragged into the melee of here and now. Business is crazy busy and it is so easy to get sucked into what is happening right now, fire-fighting and chivvying people on we can easily lose sight of where we are going and getting blown off target. So maintain sight on the goals and work tirelessly to build understanding about these goals amongst your teams and ensuring they know what they have to do to attain the goals.

2. Be disciplined

You have a specific job to do. I wonder how much of your time you actually do fulfil that obligation or how much of your time you spend on other activities that aren’t really about your purpose but feel urgent at the time?

3. Be analytical: Anticipate risk and obstacles along the way

The more you do this the more you help develop your team to anticipate and handle challenges which in turn reduces the time you need to spend firefighting.

4. Be covert: Step back from the limelight

Leaders should get a thrill from their teams getting recognition, from supporting their success not their own. Seek out ways to promote others. That is recognition enough!

5. Be accurate

Do exactly what you promise not there or thereabouts but exactly what you promise. Discipline yourself to be honest about what you can achieve. Plan to ensure success, follow up to keep things on target. How many projects fail or miss their deadlines because of over promising and in doing so have huge impact in the organisation? Make sure you are not one of those people.

6. Be Patient

Things don’t always go to plan but patience allows you to take stock and be resourceful to adapt.

7. Be loyal

If you were to rate your emotional intelligence what mark out of 10 would you give it? Think about how calm, courageous and tolerant you are. What about the way you relate to others? How empathetic are you really? How well do you build your team and deal with conflict? Just take a moment to consider this and reflect on how you can move yourself up the scale. Loyalty is a combination of all of these. It is about genuinely caring and supporting others.

So, have a think about this message and consider what you can do to step up your leadership ability – no matter what role you have you all have the ability to show leadership if you want to.

And each time you watch a film or read a book think about what you can learn from it as well as just enjoying it! It’s amazing where thoughts and ideas come from if you are on the look out for them.

Enjoy your stretch and shoot for the stars!