[July 22, 2021] Some of us tend to dismiss the idea that people were smart or moral in the past. Not only do I don’t see it this way, but I also stake my way of doing business on the fact that there is much to learn from others. Yesterday, I listed eight leadership lessons from a U.S. Army First Lieutenant Scott Ginther.1 Here are more of his leadership lessons.
- Learn technical leadership tools: Knowing your digital way-around is essential because it increases your efficiency (which frees you to do other tasks). It increases your ability to communicate your message. If you don’t show yourself adept at using this technology, other Type-A leaders will take over and do it themselves.
- What made you successful before leadership can make you successful higher up IF you keep up the habits: Many leaders slack off on their professional development because they think they’ve “arrived” and have “been there.” The fact is … the good leaders never “get there.” Your successful peers will be the ones who take the positive traits as junior leaders (discipline, pursuit of excellence, and reading) and continue to apply them.
- The homework shouldn’t stop: Leader development is divided into three domains: Individual, Organization, and Institutional (professional schooling). Many leaders think they only need to study while attending a professional course and that their “experience” trumps any academic development their organization could give them. Such an attitude is foolish. We all think we are working as hard as we can, but the truth is that there’s probably more we could be doing to improve.
- You may not be the best leader … but you can separate yourself from the pack: As a junior leader, it’s true you probably feel like part of the herd, just marching along trying not to get fired. Transitioning through junior leader positions, however, is your first opportunity to distinguish yourself from your performance. Your peers will find other jobs, and your age group will shrink. Your first big gate is any team leader position, which will formally stamp you above average and hopefully start a trend of documented excellence. You will also pick up mentors who will campaign for you and pull you into jobs in later years. None of this happens by accident, so be intentional about your performance.
- Get a master’s degree: A significant majority of those selected for higher leadership positions hold master’s degrees. Higher education shows your organization that you are committed to learning and aren’t afraid to keep working hard. Make sure you get it early in your career.
- The Parent as Leader: One fascinating aspect of leaving your junior leaders years is that you will likely also become a parent, which will, in turn, impact you as a leader. Many leaders under-appreciate or don’t appreciate the effect that parenthood will have on them (not the least of which is sleep deprivation). You will change the way you lead so that subordinates know you are empathic to family issues. Being a parent is hard, so give them the benefit of the doubt and help them through it.
These lessons are just a sampling of the countless insights that junior officers will discover if they care about developing as leaders and professionals. If you’ve learned a lesson along the way, there’s a good chance that one of your subordinates could benefit from hearing about it, so don’t forget to teach what you know.