2013 Leadership Summit

Military, organization leadership share common traits

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When retired Brig. Gen. Bill Bankhead stepped into the spotlight at the 2013 ITD Leadership Summit some attendees no doubt expected to hear a vastly different perspective on leadership than they heard in previous discussions

Indeed, Bankhead presented the tough side of leadership and individual accountability. But his message to 200 ITD employees also reinforced the views of fellow speakers.

Leadership, he said, is the process of influencing others by providing a sense of purpose, expectations and accountability.

“Yesterday is history; today is reality; tomorrow is the future, he said.

Like other speakers, Bankhead insisted that leadership requires relationship-building, establishing trust and confidence, and placing others ahead of themselves. Lead by example, he insisted.

“Your people are always watching you … Loss of faith in your leader will lead to failure. Leaders don’t lead sitting behind a desk. Leaders must lead from the front, not the middle of the pack,” he insisted.

Good leaders will become involved in the process and listen to their people. They bring all available resources to bear.

Other hallmarks of strong leaders, according to Bankhead, include:

  • They strategize and prepare for the task ahead. “You don’t plan to fail, but fail to plan,” Bankhead reminded.
  • Have well-conceived contingency plans.
  • Be flexible and able to adapt. “It’s not when change will occur, but what to do when change comes.”
  • There’s always one more thing you can do.
  • Be dynamic, not static. Plan to survive in changing circumstances.
  • Anticipate problems, and then mitigate them or solve them.
  • Be rational and fair.
  • Use common sense.
  • There is no place for “toxic” leaders in an organization. Root them out and dismiss them.
  • Don’t blame other people.
  • Make it happen.
  • Confidence is contagious, but don’t let it turn into arrogance.
  • “You can’t go wrong by doing what’s right.”
  • Be willing to stand alone and unafraid, if necessary.
  • Focus on the organization. “It’s not about you … ride for the brand.”
  • Build relationships and look for common ground. Success is built on collaboration.
  • Communicate with your superiors and other team members. Providing details can prevent misunderstanding and gossip.

Leadership attributes: Accountable. Values driven. Confident. Loyal. Maintain a sense of duty, respect and commitment to the team; be honorable; maintain integrity; give personal service.

The retired general followed with eight personal rules for leadership conduct, most of which summarized his key observations.

This was his second consecutive year as a featured speaker at the leadership summit.

Published 10-11-13