Curiosity is the Common Thread of Great Leaders

For the ULDP program, we had our first encounter with a General Officer (GO), and it was fantastic.  There is so much to unpack.

Points that he made


- The GO introduced himself and was extremely humble and considerate of our time.

- The GO contrasted the shift between tactical and strategic leadership

- Leaders need to be able to add value to situations.  Berating people does not add value.

- When finding resolutions, it is important to hear from all parties involved.

- When starting a new position, find small problems to fix quickly and establish trust

- Don't laugh at concerns

- Technical competency shows your investment into the organization's mission and establishes a baseline of knowledge

- With educated professionals, it is better to not be authoritarian or autocratic

- Think about legacy — Toxic leaders' legacies are quickly forgotten

- Take charge when given the opportunity and take responsibility regardless of how small or short the job might be.

- Curiosity is the common thread of great leaders

- First-hand experience is best; books fill gaps in that knowledge

- Show personal involvement to external stakeholders

- Adapt to your team and recognize new and inexperienced soldiers may need more direction

- Be able to tell stories; stories engage

- Uses 3x5 index cards to remind himself of stories

- Don't complain to subordinates; find peers to vent to

- Teaching forces you to be self-reflective

- "Hearding cats"

- Point your feet to people that you're talking to

Books

He brought up books as well.


Mailing Lists

Afterwards, he followed up with sending us literature that he is subscribed to.

- A UNC Leadership message created for course graduates.  The one he sent featured:
-- https://hbr.org/2020/01/are-you-pushing-yourself-too-hard-at-work
-- https://hbr.org/2020/02/stop-calling-it-innovation
-- https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-managers-can-support-remote-employees
-- https://hbr.org/2020/03/jack-welchs-approach-to-leadership
-- https://hbr.org/2020/03/dont-let-perfection-be-the-enemy-of-productivity

Reflection

From time-to-time, I find myself prone to cynicism towards "leader-speak".  My question to this speaker related towards the importance of technical competency for leaders.  The speaker's response matched my expectation— a discussion that it was important followed by the "of course, not everybody needs it" qualifier.

There are exceptions to every rule, and it's impossible to put a blanket out there about any topic.  That said, qualifying every statement makes it trickier to take away lessons.  But this, habit in itself does teach me a valuable lesson:

There's no shortcut for leadership.
That's a big leap, right?  What I'm trying to say is that leadership requires constant engagement and consideration.  There are times for decisiveness, but when you lead an organization full of incredibly intelligent and experienced professionals, it's a great time to learn and analyze.

My cohort is composed of individuals that will take away different things from this program.

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