Saturday, June 16, 2007

Grow Your Own

If you are a leader, every once in a while you need to stop and look over your shoulder to make sure people are still following you.
-- Retired Army General Leon J. LaPorte

Dear Friends -

Recently I heard from a panel of junior Army officers, including some who had recently separated from the military. I thought you might be interested in some of their comments. Keep in mind that these are all very high achieving, self-starting young men and women with advanced degrees and seemingly, a lifetime of experiences already under their belts.

- "The mentorship I received as a new Lieutenant decreased dramatically once I advanced in rank and became a Captain."
- "Junior leaders are much more willing to accept risk than those above them."
- "Senior leaders must be able to unconfuse the future." (My favorite!)
- "Senior leaders must help junior officers see the forest."
- "Senior leaders are completely out of touch." (Ouch!)
- "Combat highlights the importance of intent-centric versus plan-centric leadership." (In other words, tell them what to do, not how to do it).

These are some eye-opening insights that amplify the importance of the opening quote from a great Army leader. We all need to be looking over our shoulders and listening to our subordinates. We need to take time for counseling, mentoring, and for describing the big picture. We need to understand generational differences and meet teammates wherever they are - physically, emotionally, and socially.

In my experience, junior leaders don't want to be treated like kids. They only want what we wanted when we first started out: to be part of a team; to be valued for their unique contributions; and to be invested in to the extent necessary to help them mature and reach their goals. They only want lead.

That's Leader Business!

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