Veterans Instinctively Know When to Lead or Follow

Taking care of those that we are fortunate enough to lead is a core strength of those in the military. Our people are our number one resource that will make or break a task, mission or organization. As a leader getting to know your subordinates from a personal perspective is very important. This allows leaders to be able to make better judgement calls based on a particular reaction or interaction that doesn't seem in line with the individuals' typical behavior. Being able to focus on ensuring that the employees that work for you have all the resources they need to grow is important. When our employees come into situations that have obstacles that need to be removed it's up to the leaders to remove those obstacles for them to be successful. Being able to remove obstacles will increase the trust that will exist between you and those you are leading.

There will be times when as a leader you have to rely solely on the expertise and advice of those that report to you in order to meet the mission requirement. This could be for one of several reasons:

  • You are new to the organization
  • You don't have the expertise in a particular area
  • You are not going to be available when certain critical decisions need to be made

So being a good follower is just as important as being a good leader. Your direct reports will want to see that you respect their abilities, skills and knowledge in decisions. This will allow you as a leader to build depth within your team to ensure that at a moment's notice the same message will be delivered in your absence.

A key skill of a leader is developing the leaders around you. As part of this you will be in both situations; leading and following. A great leader will spend a good amount of time building up and supporting the leaders around them so that they have a plan moving forward to ensure the mission is accomplished in their absence.

There are many benefits to knowing when to lead and when to follow:

  • Mutual respect will be developed
  • Relying on the subject matter experts you surround yourself with equals success
  • Ownership is spread amongst all level of the organization
  • Shows you trust in others abilities
  • Opens the situation up to the best possible outcome

As an example, as an Executive in the Information Technology field you quickly become less technical over time. This is because you spend a majority of your time working on strategy and taking care of your staff. In the process of becoming a successful Executive with new skills the technology is rapidly changing requiring you to be reliant on those you supervise and surround yourself with to be leading the charge in these areas. You are no longer able to be as effective so you put on your followers role and trust in those that you have put in place to make those decisions and advise you on strategy in relation to the use of technology in the organization. Trying to be both on the cutting edge of technology and to be a credible Executive creating strategy is no longer possible in today's environment. Your role as an Executive has changed to taking care of the people and removing obstacles while they put in place the new technology required. This is not an easy transition as you will experience the three common stages of a transition; letting go of what you were, finding how to be who you need to be and then embracing who you now are becoming. This entails various times of going between knowing when to be a leader and when to be a follower.

Landmark Life Coaching's Mission is to honorably and respectfully serve courageous groundbreakers and transitioning veterans to persevere in defining and executing their future by providing an atmosphere of comradery and trust that honors their dedication and commitment. This will empower our clients to feel whole, honored, respected and fulfilled in defining and living their life purpose.

Veterans Coach/Speaker/Writer Dwayne.paro@landmarklifecoaching.com