Veteran Leadership

Not Just Leadership Strong, But “Veteran Strong”

By Joe Molina

Many of you probably know someone who was admired and well-respected while in Active Duty, and who managed 10, 100 or even 200 military personnel. However, now in the civilian environment that leader is having “personnel” issues with fewer people and feeling like he/she is not doing a good job. Sound familiar?

The strength of a Veteran as a Leader comes from the understanding that we worked in teams, cared for and depended upon each other to complete the mission. Veterans understand that Leadership is about guiding and supporting each other, while serving and protecting the team. For the Veteran Leader it is all about keeping a watch on the team and making sure each member is fully equipped with all the resources needed to complete each task and successfully achieve the desired goal.

Leadership for Veterans is almost second nature. It is a skill learned well during our military life and becomes a part of our core principles and values. The challenge for every one of us, as Veterans, is to learn how to implement and apply those same values and principles in our new careers in the civilian environment. We need to understand how to make the skills and strategies learned in the military fit in the private sector. T

here is no doubt that organizations will benefit greatly from the Leadership skills a Veteran brings to the organization. It is important, however, that we as Veterans recognize the differences between managing personnel in the military versus the private sector.

I have encountered highly skilled Veterans who were recognized as super Leaders while in the military, but now they struggle in their new jobs as supervisors or managers. Below are some powerful principles of Leadership that, when combined with any of the skills learned in the military, translate well into the civilian environment.

1 Communication:
Leaders must have a clear vision, strong passion and a clear goal. Since communication is the foundation of Leadership, a Leader must be able to communicate the mission clearly in order to motivate others. Leaders with a clear vision and the ability to share that vision, can help the team become fully engaged and fully committed to the mission.

2 Motivation: This is the energy that drives the team and gives every member the desire to complete the mission. Motivation is primarily based on two factors: Extrinsic factors like rewards and Intrinsic factors like values and principles. Leaders understand that maintaining a balance of these two factors is key to the success of each mission. The first and most crucial element of motivation, is that the Leader must be Motivated First!

3 Delegation: Do you know anyone who is always saying “If I need something done right, I better do it myself.” This is a perfect example of someone who needs to understand how to delegate. Delegation is an art. Delegation is about trusting others with important aspects of the job. A great Leader knows that team members are motivated when they feel trusted, valued, respected and appreciated. Delegation is one way a Leader can get that point across.

Delegation starts from the Leader, because the Leader needs to be okay with sharing authority and allowing others to take on responsibility and make decisions related to the job. Delegation is learned over time and by small steps.

4 Empowerment:
Empowerment is a “Sharing of Power.” Leaders who empower, allow their team to make choices, implement corrective actions and identify possible solutions. This type of empowerment creates ownership and makes a team feel confident and ready to accomplish the task. An empowered team is evidence that the Leader has delegated appropriately.

Great Leaders Inspire others to “WANT TO DO” and welcome those who want to come along and follow the vision. Leaders don’t just tell people what to do. Telling people what to do promotes a feeling of being micromanaged and limits motivation, creativity, collaboration and innovation.

Nota bene: Leaders Lead by Inspiration. It is the act of allowing others to come along and follow that makes one a Leader.

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