I have been fortunate to have some terrific leaders, terrific managers, great coworkers, and some great people who have worked for me. I have been in extreme situations and some boring repetitive ones as well. All of my career opportunities have shaped me and made me a better leader, a better worker, and I feel, a better person overall.
When I was in High School, I did not do very well. I was ten feet tall and bullet proof. I always had better things to do. Work and school were never at the top of my list. When I was eighteen, I joined the Army. I immediately learned what a true leader was. The Drill Sergeants were all knowing, or if they didn’t know, they found out. That was my first lesson. You do not have to know everything, but you should have the ability, and the desire to find out. Within two years in the Army, I was in a leadership position. By age 22 I was in charge of ten highly trained soldiers. By age 25 I was leading a group of 33 soldiers on combat missions through a city of 200,000 in Samarra, Iraq. Nothing about me makes me so special that I could handle that on my own. The ability to do this came from the experiences and the people that led me up to that point. I learned through others what it meant to be a leader. I learned that all else must come first. I learned that you must train your people to the best of your ability, then learn more and train them more. You must always lead by example. You must be willing to or have done everything that you ask of others. In every decision you make, you must think about how it will affect all others. I learned that those who control logistics are Gods in there own right.
I also learned in the Army and at UPS the importance of a team as a whole. There are more than one million people in the Armed forces. To keep them housed, fed, trained, and paid, is the act of a million people. Knowing your group and how to use strengths and weaknesses, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and all else that defines diversity to your advantage is a must. Simply telling someone what to do, works, but for a limited time. Empowering different types of people to different types of tasks gets the job done correctly and works better in the long run.
In my current position, in this economy, where we are laying off employees by the hundreds, I am using what I have learned over the last decade, to run my department. The organization has been cut in half, but the job still needs to get done. Doing this has taught me that employees can be happy with less pay and more work. I have learned that pay is not the biggest motivator. Job satisfaction and empowerment have transformed my group of workers into an efficient, happy, productive team. They work together, and are happy giving suggestions. I know I cannot do it all myself, but I have learned that if you utilize what you have in the correct way, you can get a lot done.
Overall, through the last twelve years of my working life, I have learned that you will be a better leader as long as you remember where you came from. We are all part of a team; we all need to know that everyone plays an important role on that team. Treat people as they would like to be treated and treat everyone on a team with the same amount of respect and you will find an enjoyable, creative, motivated, and productive group that can get a significant amount of work done.