June 2015

June 2015

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Life is about learning and changing, and the direction I’m headed is clear in front of me: I’m on a track of ramping up opportunities and opening doors. I am continuing to grow and flex my skills as I tackle the projects and events I’ve created and executed, moving forward with the momentum from the Bush Fellows opportunity and continuing to build on myself inwardly: spiritually, mentally, and professionally, working on leadership skills ranging from a grassroots to an executive level.

I am embracing the opportunities of executive leadership whether I create them or they come along as part of my job. I am refining my strengths and building relationships with intelligent, service-oriented individuals so we can work together to connect the dots, build a stronger taskforce, and tackle the service goals that are important to us. Throughout the past twelve months I continue to be impressed by the importance of clear communication, the art of connecting, and being aware of opportunities as these factors contribute to being a successful and effective leader.

I’ve taken to heart the strategies outlined in The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organization Accountability which include the idea that experiences are the foundation for our beliefs, which are the foundations for our actions, which are the foundations for our results. As such, one thing that has solidified its importance regarding successful leadership is accountability: a leader must be responsive, able to lead in different ways in different situations for different people, and acknowledge that responsibility and accountability of being in control. A leader must have integrity, take ownership, get things done, and demonstrate commitment to the objectives of the group.

Being the leader with the decision-making responsibilities can mean making difficult choices, and compromising when you may not want to, especially when multiple groups of people with very different opinions are involved. I’ve seen and experienced many diverse ways of navigating leadership include navigating my leader and my peers to buy into and see things from a different point of view that will benefit everyone, which highlights communication as a key success factor – both expressing your views, and listening to others. For a project or program to have an optimal outcome for stakeholders, it is often times the case that decisions will be made which cross the lines of multiple perspectives, while ideally maintaining a balanced approach to the issues at hand. True leaders must go beyond weighing pros and cons, and also weigh whole situations to find the best outcome which may not necessarily be the easiest or fastest approach…but which will be the longer lasting solution that benefits the most amount of people.

One of the most important parts of leadership is growth, and experience, which enables you to be prepared for the worst, the unexpected, and in so doing gives you insight into how to navigate and respond in a proactive and positive way – those choices may also be the hard choices, but you will recognize that and be more confident in your decision making.

I often look back to when I was a fresh-faced young soldier in the United States Army and how I was thrust into the responsibility of being in charge. An example is in 1984, we had an “alert” – we had to move to the Czechoslovakian border. At the time, I was a part of a seven-man squad (team) and I was just promoted to second-in-command. My sergeant was on vacation and during the alert, we had to move to the border, not knowing that it was not a drill. The team looked to me to make critical decisions. My superiors came to me, a 19-year-old soldier, to move my squads to position and be prepared for combat strategically and tactically. I was challenged by the circumstances of being in charge. I felt very nervous, incredibly inexperienced, and concerned that I could not let my team down. I worked back through all of my training I’d been taught, and in my inner self found the confidence to believe that I could do this. Without wavering, I stepped forward and began to address my team, pushing out orders of what needed to be done, and before I knew it things were clicking smoothly; I felt the respect and confidence my team had in me, and I asked for their input on things knowing they had their own strengths. They trusted me with their lives, and this was the start of my maturation as a leader. From that point on, I served my country for 21-years, in a leadership capacity.

The biggest obstacle I’ve faced as a leader? There’s never enough time. Family comes first, and it is important to me that I make time for my personal life as a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a mentor. I’ve been working the Stephen Covey’s time management matrix into my daily routine to help me determine how to spend my time, and using the grid’s categorization method to evaluate my commitments so that I know where they fall in the big picture.

Photo of Covey's Time Management Grid

(image source)

I place no limits on where I’m going. Professionally I’m looking into running my own organization. I like being at the top of my game leading an organization or business, at the highest level and capacity. I am excited about the potential to work on my passions, and lead the way for myself and others. I want to be a game-changer, with a service focus, with a foundation based on the questions “What more can we do?” and “What other options do we have?”