Guest article: Four Keys to Exceptional Leaders, T. J. Trent

Published on April 7, 2020 by
  1. Stop Passing the Buck. As the former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink says, extreme ownership is a required tool for every leader. Many of our national leaders are setting the wrong example. They are too busy playing the blame game, and their people are suffering. Extreme ownership does not mean we are to blame for everything that goes wrong. It is an acceptance that we, as leaders, are responsible for solving problems, and it requires us to continue to ask ourselves what we could have done or what we should be doing. Where does the
    proverbial buck stop? It stops at every level of leadership from junior managers to the C-suite.

2. Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste. Texas grocery giant HEB learned from past disasters and, as a result, positioned themselves to be able to continue meeting the needs of their employees and customers during the current pandemic. Currently, I lead a team of over 300 people who ensure the nation's senior leaders can communicate through a crisis. We had to get creative and figure out ways 70 percent of our workforce could work from home. When we first started preparing, our senior staff, said it wasn't possible. As of yesterday, we were very close to meeting our 70 percent goal. In three weeks, we have revolutionized how we will respond to any crisis. As leaders, we need to leverage a disaster to drive innovation.

3. Work the Problem. The days, weeks, and months ahead will yield many challenges. It might even seem chaotic and have you out of sorts. It is a question of when not if. Parents working from home, schools closed, and stay at home orders are a recipe for disruption. Teleworking will more than likely require a significant shift in mindset and routines. Yesterday, I managed a conference call and a toddler at the same time. Full disclosure, I was helping out some Army friends whose daily routine has been impacted by the school closures. I was pretty proud of myself until the toddler asked me for a drink, and I had no idea what a toddler drinks, lol.

4. The Fog of War Is the Leader's Typical Battle Rhythm. My mentor and former coach, Alan Allard, helped me make a significant shift in mindset by expecting to expect the unexpected. As we innovate (adapt and overcome), we are shifting stresses. We should expect degraded communications because we have moved millions of workers into their home offices. Internet service providers are struggling to keep up. Not to mention with schools canceled millions of more kids are at home streaming school lessons and Netflix. Learning to expect the unexpected keeps you on the balls of your feet. Flexible and agile to respond to whatever comes next.

The men and women that represent our organizations on the front line need you to Be The Leader You Would Follow. Why? Because their health, welfare, and safety depend on it. Seize the moment and leverage adversity to drive yourself and your organization to new highs.

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