Growing up in Germany provided me the questionable privilege of spending a year in mandatory military service. Trying to have at least some fun (for whatever definition of fun you want to use here) I opted to join the Air Force and became a drill sergeant. The experience ended up teaching me a lot — about leadership, about organizational structure and about humility.
Probably the most important lesson I took from my time there is a leadership principle which I follow to this day:
As a leader you want to be hard — and fair.
People will respect you for pushing them close to their limits (and sometimes breaking through limits they believed they have); for demanding the very best they can do and be; for working towards something they are proud of — as long as you are always fair to them. Never ever misuse their trust. Never ever betray them. Never ever leave them hanging. The buck always stops with you.
It is your job to bring the best out of everyone you work with. That’s what we need you for. That’s why we made you a leader. That is your job.
Make people proud of their work — and you have done your job.
And never ever pass the buck.