A very wise mentor once told me, “If you have no idea who you are or what you’re all about, then your team won’t be able to count on you and will have no confidence in you.”
The concept of leadership bushido is based upon the code of the ancient Japanese Samurai, called Bushido. It contained Seven Virtues:
GI (integrity) - REI (respect) - YU (courage)
MEIYO (honor) - JIN (compassion)
MAKATO (honesty) - CHU (loyalty)
Your leadership bushido is your code that you consciously choose and commit to follow. It is your foundation, your set of guiding principles; not a set of rules.
It should be formalized and written down; otherwise it will remain obscure and changeable, and will not serve you as it should.
Below is my leadership bushido, which I developed and revised many times over the years. Please feel free to use it as your template in developing your own leadership bushido.
My Leadership Bushido
Influence – Remember that leadership is influence. Be aware of the impact of your words and actions.
Awareness – Be perceptive; have situational awareness; gain an accurate, factual picture. Use this as the basis for your decisions and actions; minimize reactionary, emotional decisions.
Focus on others – Place the needs of your team and others you are serving above your own needs and wants. Do what is right for them instead of what you personally prefer. Challenge your zones of comfort and discomfort.
Honesty – Strive to always be honest. Without honesty, there is no trust.
Integrity – Do what you say.
Respect - Show respect to all others in what you say and do.
Courage – Do what you fear in order to do what is right. Stand for fairness and justice.
Honor – Be a trustworthy leader who holds the betterment of those entrusted to you in the highest regard. Honor the privilege of being in a leadership position by word and deed. Be true to your team.
Compassion – Try to put yourself in the shoes of others by asking them what those shoes are all about. Treat others with compassion and empathy.
Loyalty – Honor your commitment to the people, ideas, and things you have pledged to be loyal to.
Knowledge – Seek out and learn the things you should know. The day may come when you have to improvise, and your knowledge will help you do so intelligently with wisdom.
Initiative – Take care of things as soon as possible, without excuses or procrastination. Both on the positive and negative; take action.
Self-control – Exercise self-control over your emotions, selfishness, and other negatives. Seek help when you falter; pray for God’s help as self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).
Set the example – Set the example in all things. Follow the rules, be on time, do excellent work, be well groomed and dress well, behave well.
Communications – Communicate in all ways with clarity, Listen well with the intent to understand, not the intent to respond. Communicate vision, mission, and goals regularly.
Be strategic – Always have a clearly defined vision, mission, and goals. Delegate, never micro-manage. Think and act strategically, let the team take care of production. Lead people, manage things.
Be positive and approachable – Enough said.
Work your way out of a job – Develop the entire team to function well without me. Develop leaders to take charge in my absence, not just fill a chair.
Innovate – Always be looking, asking, and striving for new ways that are better. Don’t fight change. Never fall in love with a certain way or process, be ready to change as necessary.
Be thankful – Being a leader is a privilege. Always be thankful for what the team does. Show your appreciation in abundance.
Lighten up and smile – Don’t take things so seriously, find the humor. Make the burdens of the team seem lighter and more enjoyable. Spread good feelings by smiling… often!