MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --
I want to take a moment to look at leadership from within a
great organization. How each one of us can be a part of that leadership team
and ultimately how our leadership input will impact the organization. I am a
traditional guardsman, with 12 plus years on active duty and another 18 years
as a SCANG member, for a total of 31 years. I have seen firsthand how the
impact from just one individual can affect the overall leadership of a section,
a unit, and ultimately the wing level. One person’s leadership strength can
directly impact co-workers and that influence can affect the team, which can
ultimately affect the unit.
Leadership is most commonly viewed from a top-down approach.
This statement is only true if someone is looking from a point of view quite
far away. The truth is that leadership mostly occurs from the middle of an
organization, not from the top. All great organizations have leaders integrated
throughout, which ensures that everyone has the same motivation and the same
goal in mind.
At each level within a unit, you can have an impact on the
organization. Developing leadership from wherever you are within an organization
is not easy but with practice, it can have a dramatic effect. One of the best
ways to help in any great organization is to develop and manage ourselves. As a
member of our unit, be the one that others can count on. Be proactive, take the
initiative to look ahead at upcoming training in Advanced Distributed Learning
Service (ADLS), medical requirements, Professional Military Education, and
fitness testing. If your section supervisor has to constantly spend time and
energy on your readiness, you might be perceived as someone that drains
resources away from the unit. However, if you manage yourself well, your
section supervisor will perceive you as someone to count on when opportunity
Don’t buy into the myth that, “when I get to the top, then
I’ll learn to lead.” Some of the best leaders are not at the top but are within
an organization. Leadership is not an all-or-nothing movement. Leading from the
middle of an organization can be very frustrating and difficult at times, so
you need to develop the skills to lead from every direction. While leading in a
downward direction is where most people see themselves as they progress in
their career, leading others from the side or trying to lead up can be very
rewarding. Develop your leadership skills early and constantly work on
improving them. Pursuing excellence in leadership gives you the ability to
change lives and impact your organization.
There are many published works on leadership. Some of the
bestsellers covering this subject are on the recommended reading list from the
Chief of Staff of the Air Force, located on the Air Force Portal. Opinions
about good leadership qualities vary, however, the most common qualities agreed
by many are, but not limited to; honesty, integrity, confidence, good communication,
compassion and the ability to inspire. In addition to these qualities, noted
author John C. Maxwell emphasizes that a good leader must keep in mind: don’t
be afraid to make mistakes, ask for advice and be open to learning from others.
Make the effort to add influence and value to your organization, even if you
don’t make it to the top. Be the leader that you would want to follow.
I would like to close by sharing three of my favorite
“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own
personal example,” John Wooden.
“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just
like anything else, through hard work. That’s the price we have to pay to
achieve that goal, or any goal,” Vince Lombardi.
“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader,
but without integrity, you will never be one," Zig Ziglar.