the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).
When I think of the term “leadership”, I sometimes think about Tom Wolfe’s best seller, The Right Stuff. I was first introduced to Wolfe’s quest to find the answer to why the chosen seven men of the first manned space program (Project Mercury) were willing to risk their lives to venture into space while I was attending the Officer Basic Course as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. The story seemed to stick with me as I set out on my own journey to find out if I possessed the right stuff to become a great leader. I am sure that I am no different than others who have also gone on this search to conclude that no amount of courses, training, workshops, or reading can prepare you for leadership other than going through the experience for yourself. Leadership reveals truths about one’s character, personality, strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, abilities to influence others to follow or make changes happen. We can all learn from Colin Powell’s 13 Rules of Leadership, but must realize that they resulted from his experiences which included particular assignments, environments, people, and other circumstantial impacts that shaped his leadership. However, I have to admit that Mr. Powell’s rules are very practical and seemingly applicable for any leader. After twenty six years of climbing up the leadership ranks, I have my own rules of leadership and have learned Wolfe’s discoverey that the right stuff for a great leader is more than machismo or other physical characteristics.
A few of my rules:
- Know yourself. This is critical, a good starting place, and includes knowing what you bring as an asset (your knowledge, skills, attributes, gifts, and talents), your communication and leadership styles, and your beliefs. Nothing is more important than being true to self.
- Be confident. (Never let them see you sweat.)
- Do the right thing and,
- Be prepared to stand alone.
- Serve others. Self-serving leaders are found out quickly.
- Know where or who to for help. Even the best leaders have limitations.
- Stay positive. Negative energy is a waste of time.
- Never Fear (False Evidence Appearing Real). Get the facts and work through to make the unknowns knowns if possible.
Phyllis Brown is an engineer with the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and is currently matrixed to the Joint Product Manager – Consequence Management. Brown is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and is currently the Executive Officer for the U.S. Army Reserves Consequence Management Unit, Abingdon, Maryland.
The content in this blog entry does not represent the views or beliefs of ECBC, its employees, its management or the federal government.