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They Expect You to Lead Now????

In the Air Force, you begin your journey as a group of mostly scared, young, teenagers (some are older). You go to basic training (boot camp), you get your head smashed in (mentally, not necessarily physically), you get rebuilt as a team, you graduate more proud than you've ever been because you have learned to lead and be a part of a team, and you're shipped to school where you learn technical skills.

After you become efficient in your technical skills and you graduate, you're shipped to your first duty station where you meet your leadership and your team. From that point on and for the next 30-40 years if you stick around that long, you are TRAINED and TRAINED, and TRAINED, and EDUCATED, and EDUCATED, and EXERCISED (tested) over and over again. What is all of this for? To teach you how to be a leader. A leader of yourself and of others.

Most of my military brothers and sisters can tell you, by the time you have spent 4-7 years in (depending on how good your leadership was), you are pretty knowledgeable about what it takes to lead. You might even be in charge of a whole team of people by this time, not to mention possibly leading them through the most dangerous situations you can imagine.

In the civilian world (and I know this isn't every company), I hear that you are trained to be technically sound, and off you your job, do it well, and if you become an expert, you might get promoted. If you get promoted enough times, you might become a leader in your organization. Once you're a leader...well, go and lead!

HOW? What if your team doesn't perform well? What if you have too much work and not enough time, not enough people, not enough resources...but now it's now your responsibility? What if you have employees who show up late, or fuss and complain all day, or they don't carry their own weight, they don't listen to YOU...the "leader"! ???

What is your next step? What do you suggest organizations do to better prepare you? If they don't, what can you do in advance?

I recommend you learn how to do a few things right now:

  • Learn to have vision so you can share the vision with your team/or create it together

  • Learn to communicate, so you can be understood

  • Learn how to listen to them, I mean LISTEN, not just hear them

  • Learn to manage your time and set priorities for you and the team

  • Learn to go first. Take the risks, take the hits for your team, pave the way

  • Learn to be open minded

  • Learn to have empathy

And the list goes on!

Some of my upcoming blogs will be geared towards giving advice and sharing stories pertaining to these areas and more. If you have a story and advice, let me know and you can write as well.

Be sure to share with people you know who are looking to lead, or find themselves in leadership, but without the skillset to do it yet. We can help.

1 Comment

Keith Miller
Keith Miller
Apr 22, 2021

Everyone should have a mindset to lead, even if not a group, themselves. The knowledge presented in this piece is essential for either journey. The first step is gathering these important tools, for without them, the house your building (or not), may be the very house you need to provide shelter from the storms of life. Thanks Will for leading the way!

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