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Leadership Lessons: Army Strong: Top Five Tips to Lift Your Leadership
Former Black Hawk pilot, Elizabeth McCormick, shares five lessons she has learned to be a better team leader.

By Elizabeth McCormick
Date Posted: 2/1/2018

From flying top secret intelligence missions to command and control battlefield operations, Elizabeth McCormick has learned how to succeed when failure is not an option. As a former Army Black Hawk pilot, McCormick faced challenging scenarios as a woman in a male-dominated work environment. She found that knowing what to do as a leader is much easier than actually doing it.

Your leadership ability rests on you, and it all starts with empowering your team. These five ideas have helped McCormick achieve real success in the military as well as life.


1. Listen to Your Team

It’s not necessary for leaders to know everything, but you do need to know what the individual skillsets are in the members of your team, so you will know who to approach to get the answer you need.

It is also important to ask your team for input, and listen to what they have to say.  They will appreciate being included in any decision made – especially if it affects their workload, their department, their budget, or the amount of time they have allocated. When your team feels like a valued part of the process, it helps improve both their personal connection and overall commitment to the desired results.


2. Make Tough Decisions

Your team may not like every decision you make, but don’t let that scare you into not making the right decisions, or worse, no decisions at all. For any decision you make, do your research and get feedback from your team. If you are able, explain your decisions diplomatically and address the concerns.

At the very least, your team will feel informed, and be thankful the decision wasn’t theirs to make.


3. Delegate to Team Members

There are many leaders who diminish their potential by hoarding tasks and duties because they’re afraid of what others will think if they ‘can’t do it all.’  This is a misconception that can lead to burnout, and even worse, cause your peers and teammates to lose their trust, respect, and loyalty to you as a leader.

Great leaders are also great delegators. If you are not sure what you can delegate, here’s a general process for you to consider:

• Make a list of your specific tasks and duties

• Put your name next to the ones that you absolutely must do yourself. For example: signing checks, attending executive meetings, and certain high-level approvals are not tasks and duties you can delegate.

• For the tasks that are left, think of people on your team and their specific skillsets. If they are capable of doing a task at least 80% as well as you – then delegate that task.

• Empower your team with delegated tasks and duties while also allowing them the autonomy needed (meaning – don’t micro-manage them). Be sure to also give them the authority necessary to ask questions and get help if needed. People will surprise you with their skill and abilities when given the trust in an opportunity.


4. Admit When You’re Wrong

Everyone makes mistakes and leaders are no different. When you make a mistake, be up front with your team. Your honesty and vulnerability will help open a pathway to better trust and communication.

When you show your willingness to trust them with your mistakes, they in turn will feel more valued as a team member and work with you to help correct mistakes, and ensure a lesson is learned for everyone involved.


5. Show Appreciation

When your team members do good work, make sure you let them know you noticed. Write a hand-written thank you note, give them a special gift card, and take time to recognize them publicly. To make an even bigger impression – send their spouse a hand-written note sharing how important they were to the team’s success.

Appreciation goes a long way, and as you incorporate a culture of gratitude, your staff will reciprocate that appreciation through loyalty and a job well done.

Improving your capacity to lead is something that will take intentional effort, and these tips will help you focus on what matters most. Your attention to detail is sure to be rewarded in the form of enhanced loyalty, higher respect and increased team success. 

Editor’s Note: Elizabeth McCormick is a keynote speaker specializing in leadership, sales and safety presentations. A former U.S. Army Black Hawk pilot, and author of The P.I.L.O.T. Method; the 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life; Elizabeth teaches instantly applicable strategies to boost your leadership abilities. For more information, please visit: www.YourInspirationalSpeaker.com.


Quotable Ideas”


"If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.”

—Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker


"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."

—Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, animation and computer visionary


"If you can dream it, you can do it."

—Walt Disney, pioneer in the American animation industry, amusement park dreamer and founder of the Walt Disney Co.

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