Why Taking Care of Yourself is Essential In Leadership

My father was a british citizen before World War II but served in the US Army.  He shared with me a lot of insights into the differences between how the two armies functioned…British and American.  I always thought the Officer practice of having a “batman” was archaic and elitist until I understood why this practice was adopted by battlewise American officers who picked it up from their British counterparts.

A lot is written about leadership and its responsibility, in military terms, for those they lead, the mission and so on.  Little is said about a leader’s responsibility for him or herself.  This article makes some excellent points.

What it doesn’t say I would add:  Leaders have a responsibility to keep themselves fresh relative to new ideas and concepts.  A practice I adopted a couple of decades ago from a cemeterian friend that has helped me tremendously is treating myself at least every other year to a non-industry seminar or convention.  The exposure to outside thinking is both refreshing and insightful.  I recommend it.

“We must always accomplish the mission – it is why we are here. And while doing the mission, we must care for our soldiers – before the mission to make sure they are ready, during the mission to make sure their head is in the game, and following the mission to make sure they are cared for and prepared for what comes next. What we often fail to do is take care of ourselves as leaders. After leaders have met the first two requirements, we must take care of ourselves. If we do not take care of ourselves by sleeping right, eating right, and even talking with others about our experience…well (here he hesitated and then looked at the ground slowly) then we become casualties. Then everyone has to take care of us and that detracts from our soldier’s readiness and mission accomplishment.” Read More: Cool Leadership in a Hot Place Posted on October 1, 2012 by Clemson Turregano

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