In recognition of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's October Leadership Month, a special blog series featuring ECBC employee responses on what it takes to be an effective leader will be featured on the blog throughout the month of October. The thirdpart in this blog series features Adam Seiple, Executive Officer for ECBC's Research and Technology Directorate.
In my opinion successful leaders share four main characteristics. First, great leaders recognize the fact that the organization is greater than the individual in charge. Leaders put the needs of the organization in front of their own and recognize that the organization must succeed throughout their tenure and beyond. Great leaders will identify key personnel for critical positions throughout the organization, so that the group, as a whole, operates the organization to its optimum potential.
Second, great leaders need to be able to listen to the experts who support them and consider all sides of a decision. It is difficult to put aside previous experiences with certain people or groups when hearing their argument, but great leaders separate themselves from a particular group to look at both sides and decide what is best for the organization as a whole. This is why I believe that a great leader starts as a great follower. Great followers know their role in the organization, make decisions based on all points of view and are not afraid of telling their leadership if they do not agree with a decision and why. Returning to the first point I made, great leaders would surround themselves with great followers, not necessarily people they always agree with.
Third, great leaders need to anticipate what is coming next for the organization – whether that means understanding where the customer market is going, or identifying new technical capabilities that will increase efficiency or new ways to improve the culture of the organization. Having this vision and understanding what to look for is a requirement for a great leader.
Finally, great leaders need to inspire. Knowing what motivates people to contribute to the organization and acting on it is essential to a positive culture. That not only means getting people to want to follow their leader but to also follow the mission of the organization. The key is changing what people would call an obligation to something they truly want to do. This positive culture is what will attract other great people and it is what will carry on in the organization long after the great leader has left.
Adam Seiple is currently the Executive Officer for the Research and Technology Directorate at ECBC. Previously he was a Senior Mechanical Engineering at the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division of ECBC and has been with the Center since 2002.