by Tom Reilly, author of The Humility Paradox
How do you set priorities?
All schooling does not happen in traditional classrooms. For most students, their real education does not begin until their formal schooling is out of the way and they encounter the real world with real-world problems. My educational experience has been much the same.
I studied at two great institutions of higher education and graduated from both with undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology. I value that learning and have used it for most of my career. There was another institution of learning in which I spent four years—the United States Army. During my service, I had the privilege of attending leadership schools and subsequently leading troops. What I learned from this experience had a profound effect on me.
I learned a priority system which business and political leaders could benefit from: Mission-Men-Me. Notice, the top priority is commitment to the mission—getting the job done. Locking in on mission and locking out distractions is how leaders prevent mission creep and accomplish results. Next, attending to the “men” (people) means taking care of those for whom we have the privilege of leading. We learned simple things like the troops eat first and never position your troops in formation with the sun in their eyes. These commonsense acts reflected the next and most important sense of priority—leaders must subordinate themselves to their mission and people. Leaders rank third in this order of importance.
The willingness of leaders—military, business, and political—to subordinate themselves to their cause and to their people is the hallmark of true leadership. This presumes a measure of humility that is in short supply these days.
Whether you manage a sales territory, a sales force, or a company of employees, your sense of self must follow your commitment to the mission and the people you serve. Then, you will be an effective leader, of sales and people.