By Troy Fontana
Are you a Leader? Of course you are. Each of us is a leader. Whether it’s being a leader to your clients, co-workers, team members, friends, or your kids, you lead. Your ability to lead can be an asset or detriment to those to which you do provide leadership. In this article I will share how to develop a winning culture within your team, critical characteristics successful leaders must posses and I will help you develop the skills of a warrior leader.
Warrior leadership is a powerful, selfless, motivating and unique leadership style, which if properly studied and practiced can bring about desired results in your business. The roots of warrior leadership can be found in many places. Much of the warrior pedigree stems from nations, countries, tribes, civilizations, individuals or organizations that perfected the art of creating a ‘One Team-One Philosophy-One Heartbeat’ persona. The heart of warrior leadership ultimately funnels into one trait: selfless love. True warriors always have common goals of protection, increase, service and a purpose to create the best for all involved. Many have led, but few have done so with the heartbeat of a warrior.
Always go first. The really great leaders always show the path and go the path. Imagine being excessively over-weight, over-stressed and constantly eating junk food. Then try telling your clients that they should live a healthy lifestyle. Impossible! Warrior leaders brave the front lines. They rally the troops and they charge forward with confidence, a confidence that breeds hope for all. Trying to teach without authority is called using power. Ruling with power can be destructive. Just take a look throughout history and you will see many examples of failed use of brute power. Although you may see some immediate change, nothing lasting or truly effective should be expected. Quit expecting things out of your team members and clients that you don’t model yourself. Instead show yourself as an example.
Develop the warrior mentality. My favorite example of this is the story David versus Goliath. I’ll set the scene. Imagine two armies getting ready to face one another on the field of battle. One of these armies is far superior in skill, resources, and they also have on their side a mountain of a man named Goliath. Goliath boldly challenges anyone to a one-on-one battle. If he’s to be defeated his army will withdraw forever. Under manned and under armed the smaller army looked for someone to accept this challenge. David, just a young boy, confidently accepts this challenge and the rest is, as they say, history, as he defeats the giant enemy with a single stone launched from his slingshot. What’s so special about this? David had the right mindset and he didn’t play scared. He saw what most called impossible odds as an opportunity. He didn’t focus on what he didn’t have; he instead relied on his natural strengths.
In the time of a recession or a slowed economy it can be hard to control your surroundings, but one thing you always have control over is your mindset. The warrior leader sees adversity as opportunity, he sees fear as a false emotion appearing real, and he understands that in life, there are no losers, only learners. Edith Armstrong is quoted as having said, “I keep the telephone of my mind open to peace, harmony, health, love and abundance. Then, whenever doubt, anxiety or fear try to call me, they keep getting a busy signal, and soon they’ll forget my number.” (ThinkExist.com Quotations. “Edith Armstrong quotes”. ThinkExist.com Quotations Online 1 Dec. 2008. 31 Jan. 2009)
Be selfless and serve. As mentioned, the most important asset of the warrior leader is his ability to emanate love. This is demonstrated when putting a fellow colleague first, placing the team’s purpose before your own, the sincerity of your heart, and acting on your true purpose. The people you lead are smart. A client can sense when it’s only about the money to you. The team will know if your search is for power. People will know when you purpose is self-centered. The warrior leads with a heart filled with love, a love that reaches beyond the surface. The journey and the victory must be about what can be given, not what can be won and attained only for oneself. The ripple of selfless influence will remain for generations. To the warrior this is sufficient. A reminder to those whose actions are selfish: we don’t see a U-Haul behind a hearse.
Coach and teach. Great leaders are always looking for opportunities to educate and teach those they lead. The warrior leader also realizes that the largest room in the world is room for improvement. You must create an atmosphere with your clients, within your team and beyond, of always seeking to improve. When given feedback, instinct may be to take offense, or to protect your current belief. The warrior understands that feedback is the breakfast of champions. You must be in a constant search to improve. There is no such thing as a perfect game or perfect performance. Perfection can only be found in effort. Give perfect effort to everything you do, don’t take feedback personally and learn to love the art of improvement.
Be strategic, thus creating advantages. Warrior leaders often view life through opportunistic eyes, and they are always incredible strategists. Study your own personal strengths, the strengths of your surroundings, your community, and the individuals with whom you collectively work. Formulate a plan in which you use your strengths and advantages. In doing so you’ll avoid making costly errors. Setbacks can be destructive to all those involved. In your own life this can be a costly business decision or allowing your client to be exposed to a harmful situation. To avoid situations like these the warrior leader will look to learn from those who’ve gone before or others who’re traveling similar paths. In your own life and career, look for these same opportunities. Seek the help of a mastermind group or find mentors to which you can look to for guidance. Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
Motivate. Employees, team members and those that expand the team’s purpose or mission all want one thing. They want to be part of something that works, something that is making a difference, something they can feel proud to be a part of. We all have a desire to be part of something special; to make a difference and this is no different for your team. The warrior leader has always understood that the further behind hostile enemy lines you go or, in today’s case, the further and deeper your purpose becomes, the greater the solidarity of the team.
Along your path you’ll undoubtedly come upon difficult days, days that suggest retreat, but it is here that victory is often closest. As Sam Parker tells in his book 212 Degrees, water is hot at 211 degrees, but at 212 degrees it begins to boil, and when water boils it creates stream and steam can move a train. It’s the one extra degree that makes all the difference in the world. In life, we too often stop one degree short of our goal. Your team will look to you for the encouragement to persevere and to press on. In these times it’s crucial that you positively enforce your counterparts. Motivate and encourage them to reach places they’d never dream possible. Make an effort to catch them doing something good. Show them that they too are valuable.
Create advantages by building strategic alliances. As before mentioned, the warrior is an expert strategist. The warrior will often find victory by unfamiliar routes. If you’re looking at your team as only those who work in your particular place of business, you’re at a large disadvantage.
In ancient times the warrior would lead his cause into unfamiliar territories and quickly look to build strategic alliances. Fully knowing that an army alone rears little strength, and is vulnerable from multiple directions, but once united with allies can overcome seemingly impossible odds. In your journey you’ll often come upon others who have a similar mission, or equally valuable are those who can strengthen your weak points. In times past, the true warrior leaders never destroyed or set about ruin during their voyage. In fact they welcomed and helped others along the way. Buying goods from surrounding tribes or villages, trading with others and supporting those who at times were weaker than they. These actions laid valuable groundwork and built relationships that would only strengthen their cause. Often it was through these relationships that a need or void was filled, one in which if done without may have led to destruction.
Where might your business have a void or need? What are some ways you can strengthen your strategic alliances? First, develop a dream list of your strategic partners. Start by looking to ways you can better assist or serve them. Try offering free fitness day for their employees or customers; assist a fellow trainer who’s in need of a client, offer an education filled lunch or anything else you can provide. Build up an unstoppable force around you. Then when the time is fitting you’ll reap benefits in multiple areas, areas you would have never achieved before.
With leadership comes responsibility; responsibility we all share. It’s said that in the average lifetime we will influence 10,000 people. You see, we all lead, some in a tribe of many, others a solo-prenuer, or entrepreneur, and even others a mother or a father. The very steps you take are leaving marks in the sand. We do not inherit from those who came before; instead, we borrow from those who will follow behind. I ask you, are you leading a path worth following?
For more assistance contact Troy Fontana by email at Getfit@fontanafitness.com or visit www.FontanaFitness.com to sing-up for his FREE monthly newsletter. Troy Fontana is an author, motivational speaker and owner of Fontana Fitness Personal Training Studios. Ask Troy about his empowering leadership series “Building Champions for Life” and other business and career building tools.