Mike Durant’s Principles of Leadership

If you don’t know who Mike Durant is, you are missing out on an amazing story. He is the pilot of Super Six Four, the Black Hawk helicopter that was shot down in Somalia in 1993. He was captured by the enemy, put through a horrible experience, and lived to tell the tale. But that was long ago. Now he’s a CEO, speaker, and all-around great guy. I just finished reading his book “In the Company of Heroes” (highly recommended!) and he wraps up with his thoughts on leading others. Just had to share.

Trust and empower your people to do their jobs, then stand behind them. Unless they are absolute lowlifes, always, even when they screw up, go to bat for them. However, also call a spade a spade. Supporting your people doesn’t mean carrying the deadweight.  If there are stellar performers and nonperformers, make it clear that you know the difference and reflect that in mission taskings and performance evaluations… Be dedicated to your people, the mission, and the customer first and foremost, and only then to yourself and your career. (pg 383-384)

I know we’re a few days past Independence Day and the patriotic feelings here in the US, but I thought this was worth mentioning. It’s not common to find the kind of loyalty that Mike has for his people in senior leaders today. I can attest to the fact that he lives by his words: the customer, mission, and employees come before his own needs, and if you ever get the chance to meet him, you’ll understand that fact very quickly.

By the way, his book is one I’d add to my leadership reading list.