Whhhuuummpp! An arrow pierced the cool night air of the Swiss camp in the village of Arth, landing at the feet of the leader of the Confederates. Fearing an imminent attack, the rabble of the peasant army quickly drew their crude weapons while seeking cover, steading themselves to fight for their lives and awaiting orders.
However, no further arrows followed.
Upon further inspection of the lone arrow, a note was found, bound tightly to its length.
It was a warning from one of the enemy, a Habsburg Knight by the name of Henry Huenenberg, who recognised the superiority of his force and (possibly) thought that victory over such a lesser opponent would be a massive disgrace to his knightly code. So, in an act of absolute chivalry, he warned the peasant army that the Habsburg forces (3,000 – 5,000 of heavily armoured, well trained knights) were not going to attack the Village of Arth as the Confederates thought but were instead plotting to advance through Morgarten and that they should return to their homes.
However, as history witnessed at the end of the 13th century, the Confederates were not deterred from their vision of maintaining their freedom and their lands from the hands of the Austrians, despite being seemingly outmanned, out-skilled, out-armoured and out-resourced. They instead planned a roadblock and an ambush at a point between Lake Agerisee and Morgarten Pass, where a small path led between a steep slope and a swamp. A perfect place for a surprise attack.
The unsuspecting and highly confident Austrian force, led by Leopold of Austria, approached the Pass, completely unaware of what was about to unfold. Before they knew what hit them, the Confederate army attacked from above – throwing rocks and logs headlong into knights and coming at them with halbergs. Whoever wasn’t clonked on the head by a rock or log, was forced into the swamp and killed by the peasant army.
A great day for the Swiss. Not so much for the Austrians. And all because of a little note attached to an arrow from one very well meaning and extremely chivalrous Austrian knight by the name of Henry Huenenberg. History’s pages could have read so vastly different if that arrow hadn’t been shot into the Confederate camp all those centuries ago.
One little act of dis-unity unravelled the plans of a vastly superior Austrian army of knights versus a band of untrained, unarmoured, outnumbered and out-resourced, but highly unified, band of Swiss peasants……
This is the first of 3 articles I’m writing on “U” in FLITU – FAMILY. LOYALTY. INTEGRITY. TRUST. UNITY – so I’m hoping you’ll join me for all three!
YOU MUST HAVE UNITY!
As you can appreciate and have no doubt discovered for yourselves, that unity plays the most pivotal role in the success of a team and business. No unity, no success. You and your team are destined to go headlong into the swamp like the Leopold and his burly knights without it, so if you want to achieve your vision, you as the leader must work constantly at building a team around you that is unified and sold out to the Vision. End of story.
Do you have unity in the team you lead?
Do you have unity in the team you are part of?
CONSTANTLY ENSURE THE RIGHT HEART AND SPIRIT OF YOUR PEOPLE
To create harmonious and unified teams, there is a huge responsibility on the key leaders to drive the behaviours and drive the culture to ensure the right heart and right spirit exists within the team, to stay unified during testing times and not to break, even a little (just like Henry, as well meaning as he was!)
The heart and spirit of the Confederates must have been burning, fuelled with the vision of freedom for themselves and their families, living on the land which they would soon fight upon against a foe that was vastly more impressive on paper. Their hearts and spirits had to be on fire – their families depended on them! The buck stopped with them! The Austrians didn’t have as much to lose as the Swiss. Was their heart and spirit complacent as they travelled which made them less vigilant for signs of the enemy and thus open to attack?? We’ll never know, but we can learn from this true story none the less.
Growing unity is a mountain that must be climbed on a daily basis – the emotions of human beings, as you know, change day to day, and the human heart and human spirit is fragile. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure the heart and spirit of the individuals you lead are in the right place, which protects unity and it protects harmony.
What is the heart and spirit like of those you lead?
How do you know for sure?
What’s your process to find out?
What do you need to do to improve the heart and spirit of the people you lead?
Are you confident their heart and spirit will stay with you in difficult times?
BUILD BELIEF IN YOU AS THE LEADER
When building and growing a team, you need the team to believe in you as the leader to create unity and harmony.
In my own personal journey, I needed to understand myself better – know why I thought and acted in certain ways compared to others (my Personality Profile for example). This allowed me to better understand and therefore more effectively lead the people I surrounded myself with, so I that I could unify the team to want to follow me.
There have been key moments where I have not always achieved this and every leader will experience this at some point too – and it creates a greater hunger for me to want to strengthen relationships and strengthen unity moving forward in both my professional and business lives.
Who is believing in you? Why?
Who doesn’t believe in you? Why?
Strengthening unity is also the result of growing trust – complete trust that you and each team member are completely sold out to achieving the Vision and can be trusted to do whatever it takes (legally) to achieve it – trust that you all will act in the best interests of everyone in the team and the Vision, 100% of the time.
My last article was on Trust – the “T” in FLITU. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a team. Your team will break up if you don’t know how to create trust in your team so that individuals, and the team as a whole, will want to follow you and achieve the Vision.
Do you have trust? Why or why not?
Is there trust between all members of your team? Why or why not?
How can you improve the trust in your team?
Everyone is unique and therefore you need flexibility as the leader to lead individuals differently. Leaders who get great results don’t have a “blanket/one size fits all” approach to leading their team – they adapt their style to suit each individual – to meet them where they’re at, and when leaders do this it significantly builds relationships and it significantly builds trust.
Do you have different leadership styles for different members on your team?
KEEP YOUR “A-GRADERS”
Harmony and unification of a team requires the leader to have greater discernment and awareness of who are the “A” Grade team members that you just cannot afford to lose if you want to achieve your Vision.
If you want to grow unity, the team must know that you are 100% sold out to them – that you want those individuals to be on your team and that your team knows you truly 100% want to be with them.
Over the last 30 years of building teams, I’ve observed the importance of recruiting the right people for the team. I’ve observed the importance of committing to growing individuals on the team, I’ve observed the importance of not losing the right people on the team.
The most difficult process has been the retention of key people on the team due to division, disloyalty and disunity. There have been times when the leader has had to take responsibility for not retaining key individuals and there have been times when it has not been the fault of the leader but the change in the heart and spirit of that team member which resulted in disunity, disharmony and disloyalty issues (again, like Henry).
Are you an “A” Grader?
Who can’t you afford to lose?
Who do you need to let go?
What are you observing?
What are you discerning?
LEARN FROM DISUNITY
Having built my own businesses over the last 30 years, there have been significant moments in my business life where we have been hurt by disloyalty and disunity, and as the leader you have to be prepared for it, despite your best efforts to avoid it. You can’t let it take you down. Just learn from it and move forward (like I’m sure Henry Huenenberg did, if he survived the attack).
There have been pivotal moments in my professional and personal life where the impact of disunity has ultimately resulted in me becoming stronger through the pain and hurt that this negative behaviour causes and I want to encourage you all to work through it too.
You can’t teach what you don’t live and for 22 years I’ve been sold out to creating unified teams not only for myself, but for my client’s businesses and sporting teams as well.
Who is creating division?
Who is disloyal?
Whose heart is not for you?
What do you need to do to work through/deal with the impact of disloyalty? Are you being led by someone wiser than you who can share insights and advice with you?
I’ve come to a close for this article, the first of 3, on Unity! I trust that it will stimulate and agitate you to build unity and harmony in your team like the army of Swiss peasants in the Battle of Morgarten! Don’t forget that it’s something not only upon which your success depends, but also something you can’t take your eyes off for even a minute, just like Leopold did, the leader of the Austrian army of knights.
Do you have unity?
Do you have harmony?
What do you need to do to improve it?
Thank you for taking the time to read my article.
I trust my articles can play a part in helping you grow your Leadership strength to live a better life!
I talk further about the importance of values in my book, “The Dream Is Everything”.
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Some other articles I’ve written on this topic (or similar ones) are: