"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."  -- Gen. George S. Patton

"Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way."
                -- Gen. George S. Patton

On this Memorial Day weekend we pay tribute to our fallen brave men and women in the armed forces.  It is also fitting to honor the great leadership lessons of our past military leaders.   It is not surprising to me that many great civilian leaders that I have known have received their leadership lessons in the US military. 

The leadership in the US Armed forces inspires and demands that each person does his or her very best.  Now that doesn’t mean that everyone has to have a management style like Patten.  Those were his traits.  People with totally different traits such as Colon Powell or Norman Schwarzkopf were equally effective leaders.

A great leader does understand what motivates people.  If you wish to lead your team in your agency or your office you should understand that as well.  It is important to understand that today’s workforce does not react the same as Patton’s troops did.  Fear and incentive motivation does work but it does not have lasting results.  Today’s leadership is positive.  So in order to be a great leader you must understand the motivation of your people as well as what motivates you.  Here are 7 key points to remember:

Convey a clear vision.  Clearly explain your vision, your goals and objectives as well as those of your organization.  A clear vision lets people know what to do.

Leadership begins with the leader.  Convey a positive attitude.  In order to empower your people to achieve results you must begin by developing positive attitudes toward yourself and your abilities. 

Ability to lead is connected to confidence level.  Was there a time when you were told you could not do something and yet you did it?  Sometimes people are overwhelmed by their own self-doubt.  Confident team leaders overcome and overwhelm those self-doubts with their own positive beliefs.

A good leader is a good listener.  Good communication is essential for building trust and understanding.  In order to understand other people the leader must listen much more than he or she talks.

Lead by example.  If you tell your people that they must set goals, manage their time, and measure success you need to be doing that and it must be visible to your team.

Give meaningful feedback.  People are most productive and have the best attitudes when they receive a balance for both positive and negative feedback.  Remember to catch people doing things right as well as when things are wrong.

Remember that leadership is not given it is granted.  You can call yourself the boss, the owner, or you can be promoted to manager.  But the team will work best with you when they see you as the leader.