In our 20’s, we are busy building a career based upon the expectations that others have for us. Everything revolves around the desires, dreams or ambitions that they have for our lives.
Unfortunately, some of those desires arise out of their own lack of fulfillment. For example, Daddy wasn’t the lawyer he wanted to be, he worked in construction, therefore you have to be the lawyer. Mom wanted to play in Led Zeppelin, but she didn’t have the hair for it, so you were made to take up the electric accordion.
In our 30’s most of us continue on this path of least resistance, never stopping to ask ourselves the questions, “Am I fulfilled? Am I on the right path? Am I engaged in my life?”
We end up with a family, a mortgage and a growing sense of frustration.
Then, when most of us hit our 40’s and 50’s, we seem to stop and one of two things happen:
a) we re-examine and refocus our lives
b) we live our remaining days as victims, trying to make amends for the person we were, and the pain we inflicted on others.
Very few people ever really stop to scrutinize their life, re-examine their earlier choices and consider redesigning their life for a greater more fulfilling purpose.
They don’t seem to stop and reposition themselves to live from the inside out.
Mike Denny writes a great article entitled Four Key Leadership Lessons A Veteran Learned After Leaving The Military. I have summarized the article below. Please check out the full article, it is worth your time. Great job, Mike.
The civilian workforce taught me a lot about both myself and those I am meant to lead. I did not transition from active duty in the most well-thought-out manner.
I returned from deployment and signed out on terminal leave just 60 days later.
On the day I drove away from Fort Polk (hopefully forever), I received a call from a manufacturing company offering me a job as an operations supervisor.
I immediately took it, so I didn’t have to return to my in-laws as an unemployed dead beat son-in-law who threw away his promising active-duty career. Thirty days later with a beard and 10 pounds of post-deployment beer belly, I began my career as a civilian.
Within my first 60 days, I started to have issues. I was a hot-shot combat veteran with loads of management experience and these unwashed masses of lowly underlings were going to learn the right way to do things.
I was heading down a road to ruin and was pulled aside by a manager who was also an Army veteran. He sat down and told me a story.
In this story, he spoke of how to communicate, where other managers get it wrong, and how to prevent a trip out the door. In spite of my glowing evaluations and deployment commendations, I was a slightly toxic leader in the military, but certainly in the civilian world, even in the rough and tumble world of heavy equipment manufacturing.
In the civilian workforce, I learned the same things many new leaders learn from soldiers — that employees bring complex capabilities, knowledge, and abilities for organizational success if you properly tap into these abilities and leverage them to complete the mission.
To a certain degree at the tactical level, toxicity on active duty is allowable if you get things done, complete missions, and support your bosses’ intents. I was certainly not a very empathetic company-grade officer on or off the battlefield. Anger and rage were acceptable means of overcoming barriers to success and completing missions.
The stresses of combat often elicited a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde from many officers I served with. I had good mentors along the way who assisted in channeling passion for success and create a better leader, but the means of dealing with conflict with subordinates or peers still resorted to the shotgun blast method learned from others in the military.
One of the frictions I had as a manager was the near dependence of over 50 employees on me to sign off on any decision they needed, which required me to run ragged around the building. I wasn’t sure how to fix it, and didn’t know how to change the habits of employees who worked for the same organization longer than I had been alive. For the first time in my professional career, I wasn’t doing well at this management skill and needed to self reflect.
Step one: Holster that knife hand, self reflect, and listen before reacting.
Step two: Establish a new line of attack.
Step three: Know your team.
Step four: Communicate.
Santa’s not just jolly…he can teach us a thing or two about leadership, apparently.
Here is a summary, please visit the article for the full story…it’s worth it
Good leaders will always put others ahead of themselves. They truly believe in the team concept and are aware of the fact that there’s strength in numbers, so they make sure that everyone is buying into the beliefs of the organization by building trust with one another.
It’s the Golden Rule! Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Good leaders know to be respectful and polite to all their colleagues. They keep their head down and listen before they begin to preach.
Focus On Outcomes
Good leaders always focus on the bigger picture. They also manage to get this message out to colleagues in a transparent fashion, allowing them to achieve goals with an understanding of why they do it.
Inform And Educate
A good leader will always inform and educate the people around them, allowing colleagues to ask more relevant questions that will benefit the organization, the team, and any projects that are being worked on.