“Big Leadership” principles

Big Leadership is a term used by Major General Perry M. Smith, retired USAF.  General Smith is an author and speaking coach on Leadership.

His premise holds that many leaders in the high ranking positions follow not only the main principles of leadership but must exercise vision, long term thinking sometimes referred to as strategic planning, and take bold initiatives often with less than the full information on a problem.  They must also be motivators down through many organizational layers by developing a foundational culture of delegation and empowerment.

Another feature Smith holds high is the concept of Ethics.  Many senior leaders understand that their decisions have a significant impact on many people yet they are routinely challenged by ethical dilemmas to bend the high road for what is perceived to be for the greater good.  This seldom serves the leader or the organization and General Smith’s advise is to stop this ill perceived behaviour rapidly.  Greater long-term respect will result.

A vital behaviour demanded by these high positions involve avoiding micromanagement.  Learn to speed read and use dictation.  Ask for plenty of feedback.  Ask good questions.   For example, can you tell me from your perspective anything that I may have missed in this discussion that may lead to a better alternative – or cause further problems?

His article written  in the late 1980s still holds great value today.  He ended it with with these quotes.

General Smith’s favourite “one-liners” for senior leaders.

Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Gen Matthew Ridgway: “My greatest contribution as

Chief of Staff was nourishing the mavericks.”

Max Depree: “We cannot become what we need to be by

remaining what we are.”

Jim Stockdale: “Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain

authority by giving it away.”

Benjamin Disraeli: “The secret to success is the constancy

of purpose.”

Anonymous: “I am interested in the future because that

is where I intend to spend the rest of my life.”

Times are changing more rapidly than ever but there are fundamentals of leadership that always pertain.  Leadership doctrine – immutable truths that transcend the passage of time.  Wow how’s that for a heavy testament?

Time to lighten up.  Next time….

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