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The "5 Be's" of Being a Leader

When you cut your teeth learning how to lead in the military, you learn how to handle an enormous amount of challenges with rare good grace and professionalism. I'm sure we can come up with a few more "Be's", but here are Five "Be's" of being an outstanding leader that have stood out to me as the most important:

1. Be Bold. Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of GE, would call this "edge" - being able to make big decisions without having all the information; stand up for what you believe is right; have a willingness to take calculated risks. Simply put, great leaders have the courage to put themselves out there and make bold moves.

2. Be Creative. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. You can't apply a single project management methodology to all of your projects and expect 100% success. Policies are there to provide left and right bumpers, and great leaders earn their money navigating the minefields in between. Additionally, creativity enables leaders to "peak around the corner" and develop unique strategies in response to industry trends to maintain competitive advantages for very long periods of time.

3. Be Relevant. A mentor of mine once said, "to be relevant, you first have to be present; but presence alone does not equate to relevance." Great leaders are aware of industry trends and, as Jack Welch says, "knows what their competitors eat for breakfast." They also keep up with available technologies and industry best practices. The best of the best do this well so they can always be able to explain the "why" to their teams, and connect tactical, daily operational activities to the organization's strategic objectives.

4. Be Ready. Standout leaders are always ready to answer the call of duty, whether they are asked at the last minute to deliver a critical presentation, take on a challenging project, or support an employee or team member with whatever they need.

5. Be Right. This doesn't mean that great leaders always have the right answers. In fact, simply being able to guide someone to the right answer by connecting them with the appropriate expert, or even acknowledging that you don't know the answer but do the research and return with it, makes you right in the eyes of the stakeholders. Great leaders are always right.

If you ever find yourself in a situation that has not turned out as expected, or perhaps the effort has failed entirely, review the events with the perspective of these "5 Be's". It's likely you have some improvements to make in one or more of these areas.

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