In a recent discussion on the making of a leader, I realized that as HR practitioners, we seemed to have taken on a rather textbook approach on defining leadership.
Let’s go back to basics.
I practice a rather straight-forward and simple form of leadership. It’s called “Will you shoot me from behind?”
Here’s how it came about.
Many years ago, I had to fulfill my national service by serving in the military service. During my basic training, we had a very nasty Sergeant (He’s our Section Leader). Let’s call him Sergeant John.
Being in the Infantry unit, we had to fulfill all sort of “in-humane” training programs. Or rather, it kind of seemed “in-humane” back than.
However, being Sergeant John, being our section leader, had never seemed to be a part of “team” and is often seen baking down at us and pushing us to the limits.
(Yes, I know that this is part of the training, and looking back, I can see the rationale of doing do. However, please read on)
During one of the exercises, one of my section-mate made a comment. “If this is a real war, I’ll shoot Sergeant John first before the enemy”
It was a rather extreme statement, but in all its simplicity, it simply means that, our section leader didn’t command our respect.
Over the course of the next few months, I graduated from training school, earned my strips and had men reporting in to me.
Being a part of the section of infantrymen, we had to spend time training together. Over time, the bond grew stronger.
In a very simple way, I realized that true leadership is not rocket science. It’s about having an aligned objective with your subordinates. It’s about being there and working as a single unit. It’s about the bond and togetherness.
As individuals in an infantry section, we realized that there are times where individuals puts in a little extra for their own team mate. It’s all a part of being a single unit.
I lead my men with a very simple motto. “With one heart”. I guess for me, leadership is simple. It’s about unity and alignment, keeping your subordinates together and aligned.
On one occasion, after a military exercise, I asked my men the question. “In war, will you shoot me from behind”
The men laughed. I guess I had my answer.