One of my blog readers, Chris (who is a Company Commander on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps), wrote to me after reading an earlier post called "Leadership - A definition that works well for me”. In that blog I challenged readers as to what their thoughts were after reading the post. And naturally, being a marine, Chris rose to my challenge and provided some interesting and pertinent insight. It’s worth reading, particularly for those who are starting their leadership journey.
“Your blog sparked my interest and you challenged me to let you know what I think and I couldn't resist.
As a leaders, we discuss this topic all of the time. I enjoy taking the perspective of a professional outside of my career and growing as a leader.
A lesson that I discovered, but useful in my definition of leadership is that the people you lead have a huge part in defining you as a leader. Some people need a leader that will push them to reach new goals. Other people need a leader who will listen to their input and give them a venue to enhance their leadership skills. The largest contribution that I have had as a leader is to sit down and conduct eye-to-eye evaluations [with my team].
As a Lieutenant at 23 years old I had to evaluate infantryman that had been in the Marine Corps for 12-16 years with multiple combat deployments. Nothing was more challenging for me in my young life. How do you lead somebody that you have less experience than, but more education? (Education is a term I used loosely as I thoroughly enjoyed my leisure time in college.)
Even today, as a 30 year old Commander [with 8 years service], my top Marines are over 40 years old and have more than 20 years experience each. We sit down on a regular basis and conduct our counselling. I found that I've gained a lot of respect as a leader by asking these Marines to tell me 3 things that I need to improve on as their leader. The act is so simple and genuine that it catches most people off guard. This has made me a better human being, professional, brother, leader, husband, and father.
I thought you might find it interesting because in my limited observation in the veterinary world (and society in general), I see that there is the same dynamic between young doctors and senior techs that I have with my Marines. Our communication skills as leaders relies too much on text messages and e-mails rarely establishing clear, concise guidance.
In summary, my point is to cherish that the people your leading have a say in what they need from their leader. They can help you become well rounded and positively impact lives.
Dr. - Thank you for your time and challenge!”
My thanks for the email, the insight and the risk you, your Marines and all the servicemen and women who place themselves in harm's way to protect our countries.
Let’s keep this conversation going. What does leadership mean to you? Send me your thoughts on email.
Until next week, be happy, safe and healthy.