General Sir Mike Jackson: Leadership rules that deliver results

Are you fit to fight your competition? The ex-head of the British Army shares four punchy steps to deliver leadership that gets the job done

If you bring together a group of people, large or small, you are building a team – to achieve a common purpose.

You need a leader to achieve that common purpose, in whatever walk of life, whether that’s commerce, military, or sport.

If you get it right you bind them together with an ethos that the youngest person in the group is important to the whole.

Thinking, deciding, communicating, doing

Thinking – This is how you devise your plan for what you’re about. What are the ends, the ways and the means? What is your purpose, your objective? Where do you want to be?

The means are what you have – you have people. Money, machines, and time are means too. The art of leadership is the way in which those means are devised to bring together your journey to the objective. That’s the key to it.

Your analysis and thinking will probably result in more than one course of action. Each action will have advantages and disadvantages, and a degree of risk.

Deciding – There will come a time when you have shone a light in every corner and looked under every stone that you will have to make a decision.

At the point of making that decision, all effort, time, and energy must be devoted to the course of action that has been decided.

All energy and effort should go into implementation. There is a difference between what should be done, must be done, and what can be done. By differentiating you can avoid a byway of distraction.

Communication – Sending an email is unlikely to be enough. Test your assumptions. Do not assume assumptions will always be right. Do not confuse activity with achievement.

Not only have you got to get it down to the team, but also convey what it will look like.

There is a human tendency to report upward that which your team leader wishes to hear. Communication has to be clear.

Doing – As you adopt your plan, it’s worth having Plan B up your sleeve. In commerce you have competitors. In my old game you have the Queen’s enemies. Either way, they’re trying to bugger you up.

Some vision statements are the best antidotes to insomnia I’ve heard. In my old job as head of the army, before battle I asked ‘is there anything on your mind young man?’. He replied, ‘when are we going to go?’. To get this point across, I will have to slip into the vernacular: ‘Get across that border, kick some bugger’s arse, and get back for some goody beers.’

I commend that mission statement to you as an example of briefness, lucidity and purpose.

General Sir Mike Jackson was speaking at the Accelerate conference in Liverpool. He is a speaker with the Gordon Poole talent agency and speaker bureau.

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