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Inspire staff with a military model

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Daniel A. Dailey is Sergeant Major of the Army, the service’s highest-ranking enlisted soldier. So it would figure that Dailey, 46, has strong ideas about what it takes to lead. His tips:

Take charge—quietly. If you tend to yell to make a point, reconsider your approach. Barking orders can alienate the people you’re trying to motivate.

Skip the reminders. If you find yourself reminding people of your job title, that’s a bad sign. Explaining your role—and how you’re the boss—almost assures that underlings will chafe at your assertion of authority.

If you’re truly in charge, you don’t need to say it.

Tamp down the emotion. Seek to gather information and learn from others. That’s better than rushing to make comments that reveal your lack of preparation or knowledge.

“Nobody likes a dumb loudmouth,” Dailey says. “Take the time to do the research. Learn how to be brief.”

Never complain. You’re a role model whether you realize it or not. The moment you complain, you open the floodgates for others to do the same.

When things aren’t going well, express optimism for a turnaround.

Put a positive spin on negative events, or at least avoid lamenting your misfortune.

Respond to bad news without losing your composure. People will watch to see how you handle adversity—and follow your lead.

Write neutral or positive emails. Avoid expressing negativity in an email. You never know who will see it, even years later, and how writing just one stinging sentence can harm your reputation.

If you need to criticize or discipline someone, do it in person or by phone. “Email’s just a tool,” Dailey says. “It’s not a substitute for leadership.”

—Adapted from “SMA Dailey’s top 10 leadership tips for sergeants major,” Michelle Tan, www.armytimes.com.

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