Becoming a Leader: Challenge #3–Give Others an Opportunity to Shine
This is, singularly, the most important concept that I learned during my 15+ years as an active duty Air Force officer. As a newly minted 2nd Lieutenant at my first duty station, I was put in charge of a group of about 100 men during a field deployment. I had been on base less than three months. My charge was to organize this team to build a 20-station obstacle course in less than a week. The course was to be used for training for our Military Police. My Commander could have chosen many other officers more senior to me to carry out this task, but he didn’t. He chose the youngest, greenest officer in the squadron. In the ensuing 15 years, I would be given many such opportunities–some I handled better than others. But I learned valuable lessons from each.
Senior officers in the military know that experience is not only a great teacher, but also a great motivator. They routinely provide leadership opportunities and reward those who rise to the challenge. Corporate America, on the other hand, tends to withhold leadership opportunities from young and unseasoned employees. Managers wait for proof of ability before granting opportunities to shine, but without such opportunities how are employees supposed to prove their mettle, let alone stay motivated?
Becoming a Leader: Talent #3–Think with Vision
Vision: The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.
The following exchange comes from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
There are two lessons you might glean from this conversation. One, if you keep moving, you are bound to get somewhere and learn something. Two, if you don’t have a clear vision about where you’re going, you are, in essence, lost.
As a leader, others will follow so long as you lead with a clear and compelling vision. If you don’t anticipate what will or might come to be, however, you and your followers will soon be lost