Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Leadership Blog Series Part One: Chika Nzelibe

In recognition of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's November 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 November. This first installment features Chika Nzelibe, Mechanical Engineer in the Engineering Directorate’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division.

What leader inspired me the most?  It’s hard to pinpoint just one leader who inspired me the most.  More than a few have had a major impact on my life. 

My father, who saw his son at his wit’s end with school work, found a way to inspire me to keep at it, and to never give up. My drill sergeant, who challenged me to go that extra mile when I thought I had nothing left in the tank. And I can’t forget the co-worker, who saw a young engineer, fresh out of college, and took time out of their busy schedule to show me the ropes. 

All of these leaders had one thing in common -they saw someone who needed that extra encouragement and they took the time to figure out the most effective way to give it.  To me, a leader has the innate talent of motivating an individual to push beyond their preconceived limits. They lead by example. I have come to realize that one of the key factors in their success is the aura of respect that they carry.  

In the case of my father, instilling a solid work ethic in me, he spoke from experience. With just a 4th grade education from Nigeria, my father took the U.S. college entrance exam and with sheer hard work and determination, he accomplished the highest degree achievable. In the case of the drill sergeant, he put out twice the effort that I did and made sure that no one was left behind. Seeing him run circles around the formation, and picking up any stragglers, made me realize that if he was giving 110 percent, I could give 110 percent. The co-worker, even with deadlines to meet, made sure that he was available anytime to answer even the simplest of questions. To him, keeping me motivated and on task was his way to ensure I was ready to function on my own. 

This list could truly be longer, and will no doubt grow as I continue my career. I am grateful for all of the inspirational leaders in my life, and hope that I can also serve in the same capacity of encouraging and lifting up others around me.

Chika Nzelibe holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and a Master of Science Degree from Johns Hopkins University in Manufacturing Engineering. He currently serves as a Mechanical Engineer in the Engineering Directorate’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division.

The content in this blog entry does not represent the views or beliefs of ECBC, its employees, its management or the federal government.

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