It’s not about you. It’s about the mission.

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High-trust military leaders realize it is not about them, it’s about the mission.

Many people aren’t aware that each U.S. service member swears an oath upon entering the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force. And periodically thereafter.

And many more people are not aware of the object of each Sailor’s, Soldier’s, Marine’s, and Airman’s “true faith and allegiance” from the most senior general and admiral to the most junior seaman recruit, airman basic, and private.

They don’t swear allegiance to the President or the Secretary of Defense or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or any other person.

They promise to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies.”

That’s the unifying strategic mission for all members of the Department of Defense. High-trust military leaders realize it is not about them, it’s about the mission.

Here’s the takeaway: the amount of loyalty and trust given to each leader at every level is a direct function of their selfless commitment to the shared mission.

When leaders demand, expect, or try to coerce trust and loyalty to themselves without a shared devotion to a higher calling, there is always friction, wariness, score-keeping, and mistrust.

But when the team believes the leader is also fully COMMITTED to a cause greater than himself or herself, and is making shared sacrifices to serve the MISSION, the team will generously give their leader the gift of their TRUST and LOYALTY.

What is your team’s mission (or is your focus all about you and your success)?

Do you clearly articulate it regularly so all understand and don’t forget?

Have you — at least figuratively — sworn an oath to the mission or is it just nice words in an e-mail, a memo, a speech, or posted on your website? You can’t fake this. Your actions — usually measured by your willingness to match the sacrifices you expect of your team — will invariably give you away and the cost will be lower trust and loyalty.

“Leadership is about service and you can’t lead if you can’t follow. It’s never about you. It is always about the mission. And people will follow you if you’re prepared to get a mission done, something with a goal that is a little bit beyond the reach of all of us.” — Arkadi Kuhlmann, chairman and president of ING Direct USA

Be a High-Trust Leader: serve your team by demonstrating every day that you share their devotion to the team’s mission, its higher calling.

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