In order to build a trusting environment, first, give trust to your people. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they did their homework and made the right call for the organization. Give trust to gain trust.
Experienced, mid-career Veterans have the skills and leadership competencies to accomplish the mission and “get the job done” at all costs -- to be resourceful, build teams, communicate effectively, analyze ambiguous situations, make difficult decisions and so on -- but without articulating their experiences through a functional lens, they are at risk of being just being labeled just a “generalist” leader. Which doesn’t get you hired.
So what how do you brand yourself, with all the leadership experience in the military?
The next time you think of a great role model and leader to emulate, you may not have to look far. Look within your own lives and find those who have sacrificed and “led” in their own right. Remember how they cared for you and connected with you, to build a trusting relationship. This may very well influence how you improve yourself, to be a better leader.
After Bobby’s passing, I learned about the ASIST program taught by LivingWorks. It’s a program designed to save lives! LivingWorks believes that anyone can help those in need and provides lessons in life-assisting suicide first-aid intervention! This is a powerful tool and should only be used by those committed to make a difference in the suicide epidemic.
Last Thursday, I came back from my brother’s funeral at Houma, LA. Bobby Barrios, Jr. was my former teammate and helluva Senior Communications Sergeant, when we both served on Operational Detachment- Alpha (ODA) 1211.
From the LDP and the VRP, APi Group has seen the progression of numerous Veterans take leadership roles in their 40+ companies, to include the CEO positions. Most of these LDP candidates started out as transitioning Junior Military Officers with 5-10 years of Active Duty service, have entered the private sector as an entry-level or middle manager, then have quickly progressed upwards in their careers – now they have 12x military Veteran company presidents, who started their civilian careers as mere graduates of these programs!
It’s nice to be a Veteran these days, but not all Veterans are the same.
For every warfighter in the “sandbox” in Afghanistan, who has the mission of being a combatant (to find and defeat enemy forces), there are a number of other non-combatants that need to support this warfighter. There are those who directly support these efforts – logistics, communications, mechanics, intel, aviation, etc. – and those who provide support state-side – medical doctors, legal, physical training, equipment providers, etc.
A Veteran can come from any of these backgrounds and hence have a unique story and narrative from their time in service. To truly understand their significance, you need to listen to each one.
In the Army, there are seven values of Leadership. Each align with the Army’s definition of leadership, which according to the Army Field Manual (FM) 6-22 on Leader Development, states“Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.” And from our nation’s rich history, you can say the Army has done a pretty good job producing top-notch leaders.
Nowhere on this list is “Emotional Intelligence” or “Kindness” or “Empathy.”
Each year, 200,000+ Service Members end up leaving the military. Whether by choice or retirement is not important, but all Veterans face the need to transition our identities from being professional badasses to now being members of society. Through deliberate reflection to re-invent your identity and also taking steps to form your own personal Board of Directors, you can prepare yourself for the challenges ahead.
As the former Superintendent of the United States Military Academy and a soldier with 43 years of service, Lieutenant General Robert Caslen Jr. was the keynote speaker for the Philadelphia Chapter’s West Point Founder’s Day dinner on March 16, 2019. There, as a consummate leader and mentor, he spoke to the participants on how excellence is a mind-set and attitude that we should pursue in everything we do.
Applying military leadership lessons to the private sector only takes you so far. There are different norms in the civilian world, and it takes time for a newly transitioned military leader to recognize these differences and adjust. Ensure that you manage your expectations but still have a goal to slowly introduce change.