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 Mark Ciampaglio, senior engineer for ECBC's Protective Equipment Test Branch.
Having been in the workforce for a relatively short amount of time, my personal views of leadership are based on what I’ve learned as a follower of many leaders, what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced in formal and informal leadership positions in my professional and personal life. Leaders have a tough job. To be successful, they must be able to balance a multitude of activities, skill sets and personality traits. I found it helpful to break the leadership role into three distinct focus areas: People, Purpose and Planning. A great leader strikes a delicate balance between the three.
People are the heart and soul of any team or organization. A leader is nothing without willing followers. The best leaders show an open compassion and respect for their team, commanding their respect. They engage, inspire and especially empower the people around them. A great leader must be a great motivator, particularly when times are tough. Enthusiasm for their work and a strong, charismatic personality will go a long way towards building an effective team.
Purpose is what brings a team together. It answers the questions, ‘What are we doing and why are we doing it?’ A good leader has a clear ‘big picture’ vision of what they need to accomplish. They are focused on the overall goal and avoid wavering when small obstacles are encountered. They are willing to change and adapt when faced with overwhelming odds. A decisive and assertive attitude will help a good leader stay the course and achieve their purpose.
Planning is the common link between the People and the Purpose. It answers the question, ‘How are the People going to achieve the Purpose?’ Leaders must ensure that organized and complete plans are developed to reach their goals. While often times they’re not involved directly in the minute details, they must know their team strengths and weaknesses to appropriately delegate these tasks, and then trust that their team will follow through.
Above all, great leaders must know themselves well enough to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Few people will excel in all areas. It is the leader’s responsibility to surround themselves with people who can fill the gaps and ensure a well-balanced team.
Mark has been a chemical engineer at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) since he graduated from Virginia Tech in 2003. He has worked with several teams at ECBC, all of which were related to air filtration and collective protection. Currently, he is the senior engineer for the Protective Equipment Test Branch.