Competent, Confident, And Agile

Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.
–Vince Lombardi

Human contortionist in a glass box

How Are They Made?

If leaders are made by hard effort, as Coach Lombardi points out, then I need to know how. What traits should we strive to intentionally develop within our future leaders?

I thought about this question long and hard. I wondered if I could even “boil it down” to a list that did not infinitely consume binary one and zeros within Microsoft Word. I felt challenged by the opportunity to succinctly and coherently define the traits common to all leaders.

Finally, (as if someone turned on a light bulb within my brain) three words came to mind:

  • Competent
  • Confident
  • Agile

If you want to make a leader (since leaders are made and not born), you must develop their confidence, competence, and agility.

How do you develop Competence, Confidence, and Agility?

I know. I know. I seem to have more questions than answers. Once again, I thought long and hard trying to answer this question, and not ask another one. Finally, as I was reading It Doesn’t Take a Hero : The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf , the answers presented themselves. I was able to quantify eight actions that will help leaders develop Competent, Confident, and Agile leaders within their organizations.

  •  Constantly challenge your beliefs and assumptions (Agility)

Renown leadership coach Alan Allard once told me “What got you here won’t get you there.”

  • Be Passionate (Confidence)

You are probably asking yourself “what does passion have to do with confidence? Well, passion prevents us from getting complacent. It pushes us to expand our knowledge, leave our comfort zone, and challenge ourselves. Our successes will help build our confidence.

  • Be Aggressive (Confidence)

Leaders must be confident but they must also project confidence. Project confidence by aggressively representing your position on a subject.

  • Clarity of Communication (Competence)

Leaders influence directly their direct reports and indirectly through junior leaders throughout the organization. Mission success is totally dependent upon clear concise communication. What better defines a competent leader than mission success.

  • Know when to say when (Competence)

Sometimes you reach a point of diminishing returns. You win some and you loose some.

  • Calculate the cost (Agility)

You win some and you loose some. Evaluate the risks before hand so your not caught with your trousers down.

  • Prepare for casualties (Agility)

In war, you hope to bring back everyone you deploy with. In some cases you do and in many more you do not. Always remain on the lookout for future leaders. Develop your “second team” so you have bright and talented leaders to fill vacancies as the need arises.

  • Assume responsibility (Confidence and Competence)

 “Leaders are never right but they are always wrong.”

-TJ Trent

“A strong leader accepts blame and gives credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.”

– John Wooden

“The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.”

– D. Eisenhower

Thoughts, Questions, Concerns?

Although I am both competent and confident, I would like your objective opinion. So please, tell me how this list this stacks up against your list.

Question: Would you change anything? What would you change? What do you think about my list of actions listed above? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

This is a guest post by TJ Trent.  He is currently a Staff Sergeant in the US Army stationed in South Korea. He is married to LaShawn. They have a hairy four legged child named Roscoe P. Coltrane. You can talk to him on Facebook, or Twitter

I’m always looking for guest posters. If you would like to guest post, you can find the guidelines at An Invitation To Guest Post.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.