As Denise and I walked through a building on the Yard, we saw the words, “Excellence without Arrogance“, predominately displayed. As many of you know our third child, Mitch, entered the United States Naval Academy this summer as a freshman, or as they’re known as – Plebes, and where the campus is referred to as the Yard. When I read this maxim, six weeks into Mitch’s Plebe summer (basic training), I knew immediately it wasn’t just a pithy saying that someone painted on the wall but was a value that my son, as well as the other 1200 Plebes, learned during their training.
How do I know this?
First, the people affiliated with the USNA that Denise and I met, be it Naval and Marine officers, upperclassmen, facility and support staff, all demonstrated this incredible balance of excellence and humility. They were both gracious, friendly and helpful as well as they oozed with professionalism, commitment and excellence.
Secondly, when we were with Mitch that weekend, we saw change in him. He was no longer the same person we dropped off on Induction day. His sister, Christina, describe it best when she said “Mitch seems more confident and less arrogant.” An interesting play on words but an accurate description of this important Navy value, Excellence without Arrogance, becoming a reality in a future officer.
So here’s what we, as leaders, need to grapple with – a value of an organization or individual is not core just because it’s written on a wall, a card or in a website. It can only be core if it is so deeply embedded that it oozes out in such a visible and tangible way that others outside the organization can see, experience and name the value without ever reading the website.
Today it so often seems our world value celebrities, fame, and image over integrity and character. As a consequence, leaders are often tempted by the promise of influence that fame offers so they can quickly slide into focusing too much energy on managing their image instead of building their character.
However the problem with fame and image, from a leadership standpoint, is that they’re superficial, temporary, and do not build meaningful relationships. And without meaningful relationships, transformational leadership becomes impossible. Now here’s why (so follow my chain of logic for a moment)–
Transformational leadership requires a context of healthy relationships
Trust is the key ingredient to healthy relationships
Trust comes not from image or fame but from integrity
And integrity is simply doing what we say we’re going to do when we say we’ll do it.
In other words, handsome is as handsome does.
This is why leaders at SpringHill are more concerned about doing what it takes to positively impact the lives of others and the world as well as following through on the promises they’ve made rather than becoming a celebrity, being famous or enhancing their image. For the SpringHill leader the only handsome they care much about is the good looks that come from integrity.43.928283-85.286682
Last week I spent a couple of hours with Glenn Abbett, SpringHill camper parent and farmer in northern Indiana. We toured his farm where I learned more about his and his family’s formula for success. And successful they’ve been. Over the past 15 plus years Abbett Farms has grown 5 times over.
When I asked Glenn what he attributed their success to he answered by sharing three commitments they lived out:
- Integrity: Abbett Farms always does what they said they’re going to do. This has built confidence and loyalty with their major customers, assuring ongoing business even in difficult economic times.
- Innovation: They’ve made significant investments in innovative equipment and processes to assure they will deliver on what they say they’re going to do. For example, they’ve designed, built and now operate the largest tomato planting machine in the world, assuring they always deliver on their tomato commitments.
- Advocacy: Finally, Glenn has personally invested time lobbying on behalf of other farmers and others who work closely with agriculture. This personal investment on behalf of his entire industry has led to further loyalty among his customers as well as assistance from his peers.
As I drove away from our time together I realized that these three commitments are worthy for any person to pursue and are foundational for any organization if it desires to be successful, whether a farm, business, church or Christian camp.43.928283-85.286682