As you may know, I am an officer in the Armed Forces. I’ve had the privilege of attending one of the best leadership training courses in the world and spending a lot of time applying it all under supervision and then in an environment where feedback from colleagues is natural. What I learned at the academy was worth its weight in gold. When I came out to lead my own unit, I was delighted to see a real professional acting. It was my then company commander Lasse, who years later I inherited the company from. Lasse was and is my example of how a good leader should be.
I’ve been wondering what it was that made him such a good company commander?
What enabled him to bring all 248 members of the unit to carry out the feats of hunger and cold, and at the same time to succeed in solving the task? I have listed a few things and I think we can all learn from what I have seen as strengths in his leadership.
I just want to point out that it may sound like Lasse is no longer with us, but he is. When I speak in the past tense, it is based on the time together in the unit 30 years ago and nothing else.
So, what was it that made Lasse so good? What I have found are four things; love, knowledge, analytical calm, and determination.
During our years together in the unit, Lasse always showed love for the people around him. He genuinely enjoys people and working with them. He cared about how the rest of us felt and how we perceived the situation. It made us feel like we were a gang where we were together solving a task. I see that caring about your employees and fellow human beings does so much for leadership. Asking how people are feeling and then also being really interested to hear the answer.
Furthermore, he had knowledge of the business. Not that he was down to the details, because the newly trained soldiers knew more about that, but he had a basic knowledge of what the business was and what the needs were. With that knowledge, he could ask the right questions at the right time to get us other leaders to come up with solutions. It gave us an injection to show commitment and that we had someone who understood us and our situation in solving the task.
In addition, he always showed an analytical calm. With this ability, things could happen around you, but then we knew there was a calm point to go to and discuss the situation that arose. Things go to shit in a business. Out in the woods, cars froze up in extreme cold, soldiers got stomach flu (never drink ice-crystallized milk and eat loafs!) and a lot of things that overturn or at least make it difficult to carry out as planned. The ability as a leader to be calm and able to make decisions based on facts and data, and with analytical skills is incredibly important.
When it came to decisions after analysing the data and facts, as a leader you always need to be able to make those decisions. Lasse made these decisions at the right time when they were needed. We were taught at the Academy that “the consequences of not making a decision are often worse than making the wrong decision”. It’s been with me ever since. In the majority of cases, decisions can be corrected by new decisions and future corrections. There are few times in a normal business when we have such crucial decisions that they are irreversible. Of course, these exist in some places, and then we need to have even better prepared structures for how we make these decisions. Unfortunately, I see too many people here who don’t dare to make decisions, even though they are the boss. They should always be waiting for something and/or the perfect moment. It is devastating. The decision is needed sooner rather than later.
So I hope that my learning from my mentor Lasse can give you a good input to become a better leader.
Remember to show love, make sure you have a good knowledge of the business, stay calm and be analytical where you make decisions on facts, and make sure you actually make decisions.
Have you had a Lasse in your life? Please email me and tell me, because I’d love to hear about our great leaders.
I’ll be in touch,