Part 1. Exceptional Leaders Set The Example In These Key Areas.

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The night sky lit up in a brilliant flash as lightning pierced the darkness, momentarily lighting their treacherous path that wound it’s way through the mountains, while thunder cracked overhead and rain fell, silencing their footfall and the gentle clink of armour and weapons. No one spoke a word. Beneath them in the valley below, slept the enemy – 40,000 in total, give or take a few.  All sleeping soundly, all too confident of an impending victory against the enemy and all hopefully too drunk to register, let alone respond to what was about to happen.  


Oda Nobunaga, the 26 year old leader of the Oda family, was leading his army of a paltry 2,000 men into battle against the vast 40,000 strong force of Imagawa Yoshimoto, who was steadily making his way through Oda land, conquering their fortresses.  Nobunaga’s generals advised him to surrender while he still had the chance.  Nobunaga disagreed.


On the night of June 22, 1560, in the hills of the Owari Province, Nobunaga left his fortress along with his 2000 men.  Each carried their weapon, a flag and a “dummy soldier” made with straw and a spare helmet, giving the impression of a much larger force.  They crept into the hills overlooking the enemy force.  Without warning, they charged on the drunk and unprepared men of Yoshimoto. Yoshimoto’s men fled in all directions to avoid the slaughter from what they thought was an indomitable force, and in their panic, they left their leader unprotected.  Yoshimoto, thinking the commotion was merely a drunken squabble, was slain by a Nobunaga Samurai before he had any idea of what was taking place.  


Nobunaga’s army of only 2,000 men claimed victory that night against an army 20 times it’s size.  


His vision of victory, self belief and his ability to empower and instill belief in his army, against seemingly insurmountable odds led to his amazing military victory.


Great leaders, like Nobunaga, cast vision.  The have an unquenchable and infectious energy which comes from the vision they cast and, it’s their energy that’s the power source to the team they lead to achieve the Vision.  


What is your Vision?


Does it give you energy?


Does it empower the team you lead?


Effective leaders are able to grow self confidence in those individuals who are following their Vision.  Their self-belief and self-worth grows in relation to their ability to accomplish clear expectations that have been set within their individual role to help achieve the Vision.


Have you set clear expectations?


Are your expectations for each team member realistic and achievable?


Do individuals in the team have a high self-worth and feel empowered to achieve the Vision?


I would have loved to be there when Nobunaga was planning with and preparing his men, building them up, giving each of his Generals their roles for the impending battle.  It would have been awe inspiring!


The Leader’s vision becomes the team’s vision whereby the team sells out to accomplishing the vision.


Is the team sold out to the Vision?


What must you do better as the Leader to ensure buy-in?


Belief will always come from within our spirit and our heart, not from our head.  What we believe in the end is what we will live and our belief creates faith in our ability to achieve our goals.


What are you believing right now?


The Leader always believes anything is possible and that’s why they are a Leader, but, at the same time, what they believe is possible must be realistic and achievable or your team won’t get on board (and you can’t do anything great by yourself!).


Have you set realistic and achievable goals?


A real skill to becoming an effective leader is to not get distracted by attempting too many major goals simultaneously.  This is a key weakness for “Natural Leaders” who can become easily distracted by multiple goals which results in them moving away from what their right priorities are.


What is distracting you?


Is anything distracting your team members?


Our thoughts will determine our destiny and to be able to continue to lead by example, effective Leaders must conquer the way they continually think, which comes from our heart and spirit as pressure and challenges to the Leader’s responsibilities build.


Nobunaga’s heart and spirit would undoubtedly have been challenged countless times as he defended his lands and protected those under his care, though he found a way to build his inner strength to carry out one of history’s most daring victories.


What can you do better to master your Spirit?


To lead by example, your influence will grow when the team you lead observes your personal change and growth as their Leader.  You need to lead yourself first before you can lead others.


What do you need to change?


An effective strategy all outstanding and highly effective leaders use to grow themselves in Leadership is to be led by someone more effective than themselves.  If you want to lead, you have to allow yourself to be led. To lead to the best of your ability you need a leader, independent to your business, who you meet with regularly (at least once a month), who will push you to be the best you can be, call you out when needed, hold you to account to do the things you commit to do, someone who builds you up and supports you, (particularly when things get challenging), and someone who helps you make wise decisions.  All the great leaders throughout history have all been led by someone more effective than they were.  Gandhi led Nelson Mandela, Socrates led Plato, Steve Jobs led Mark Zuckerberg for example. You cannot lead to the best of your ability by yourself and why would you want to?!  It’s lonely enough in Leadership. Step out in faith and allow yourself to be led!


Who is Leading You?


When your team members see your growth from being led, this opens them up to want to be led – by yourself or by another effective leader from outside the business, and the team gets stronger and momentum builds as the process repeats.  Being led is an extremely effective leadership strategy.


Leadership is a continual journey.  We can always do something more effectively than we have before. Always. That’s one of the great challenges of Leadership.


Is your Vision clear to you and your team?

Does it empower you?  Does it empower your team?

Have you set clear and realistic expectations?

Do you allow yourself to be distracted?

Do you build self worth and belief into your team and yourself?

Do you allow yourself to be led?
What do you need to go and do right now to lead by example more effectively?


Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

I trust my articles can play a part in helping you build your Leadership strength to live a better life!

Peter (Coxey)


I talk further about leading by example in my book, “The Dream Is Everything”. If you’d like to receive a FREE e-copy, (RRP $24.95), click here.


Some other articles I’ve written on this topic (or similar ones) are:

Allowing Yourself To Be Led

Are You Running Your Own Race With Like-Minded People?

Leading By Example


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