Entrepreneurs, whether they know it or not, will become leaders if they don’t consider themselves one already for the simple fact that they must if they want to survive. Many of the same traits found in leaders are the same ones required by founders, such as courage, resiliency and emotional intelligence. Without the practical application of these traits, the likelihood of entrepreneurial success withers away.
In my first column, A SEAL’s Perspective: 5 Ways To Become a Better Leader, I shared five tips for becoming a better leader as gleaned from my previous life in special operations. However, the article became too long to include all ten.
To build upon the leadership lessons learned as a Navy SEAL (and ideally applied everyday as an entrepreneur), here are the other five lessons for becoming a better leader not mentioned in that article:
6. Be a quiet professional (and not an arrogant ass).
On the same spectrum of humility (yet opposing end) is arrogance, or rather the lack thereof. There is absolutely nothing worse than somebody who thinks the world of him or herself. If that person is so good at what he or she does then telling everybody isn’t necessary -- it’s already known. Do the work and praise will come.
7. Mind your manners.
Go out of your way to hold the door for people. Say “please” and “thank you” to every server at the restaurant every time they come by. Talk with them. Ask them their names and see them as people rather than a service. Likewise, they’ll see you as a person rather than a customer and be less likely to spit in your food.
8. Mind your emotions.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions both in yourself and others. Just as different situations dictate different responses, they also necessitate a bit of what I call emotional throttle control. Depending on the situational dynamics and personalities involved, more or less emotion is sometimes needed.
Related: 7 Secrets to Employee Happiness
9. Leadership is fundamental.
Improvement only comes from one thing -- practice. Top shooters, Olympic gold medalists and professional sports players all arrived where they are because they put in their time. Guess what? Leadership is no different. When it comes to leadership, exercise your ability to trust and be trusted every day. Demonstrate your integrity. Be responsible and show up on time. It’s fundamental to human decency.
10. Make the call.
It takes just a few moments of your time to ask somebody how their day is going or to call home and say hello. It’s always time well spent because you never know what’s going to happen. Heck, I never expected getting shot on two of my eight deployments but hey, “stuff” (for lack of a better term) happens.
The unexpected likes to pop its ugly head at a moment’s notice and without regard. Don’t let complacency set in. Just because nothing threatening has challenged you or your company yet doesn't mean nothing ever will. The last thing that you -- or anybody close to you -- wants to live with is regret.
Depending on who you ask, there are myriad leadership traits that define what it means to be an effective leader. If there was one thing I learned in the SEALs it was that if you hone the fundamental behaviors that build trust, integrity and service, for example, and practice them every single day, they just become a part of you.
Leadership isn’t something that comes naturally for some people whereas others seem to be born leaders. Either way, there’s always improvement. Identify what it is you want to develop and do it, for anything worth thinking about improving is worth doing so.