Part 1 of this series covered special projects that helped bring the Cold War to an end. I happened to have been a part of those projects although my contribution more than likely made little difference in the eventual outcome. However, serving in the military profoundly changed me and my view of leadership.
I tell people I never attended college until my graduate days. I actually attended "institute" - Virginia Military Institute for my undergraduate education. VMI provided the initial austere and structured environment that I would live under for years to come. VMI cadets also followed an honor code that was like few others - "I will not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do". There was no gray area here. Because of that, whatever you said was taken as the truth - no questions asked. It was really a code of honor. In fact, we could purchase items from the local town merchants just by giving our word that we would make good on the payment.
Graduation (and commissioning) happened causing me to enter the Air Force as an engineer. During my first assignment one of the senior enlisted men acted as a mentor to me (Dave Ballinger, who could operate a road grader like no other). I learned to respect the relationship between management and labor and gained an understanding of what leadership meant. For example, on more than one occasion I was politely asked to just listen (clearly I was running off in the wrong direction at times). But I did listen. I learned to show respect to those who had more real knowledge than I did and benefited because of it.
I carried these lessons into other assignments. Eventually, the Air Force placed me into a leadership position in charge of 250 or so technicians who maintained an air base. Other assignments included positions at HQ NATO, working with the UN Forces in Korea, commander of a engineering squadron (500 members), and commander of a Support Group (1200 members).
In my view, all of these great assignments resulted from my initial training in leadership and ethics early in my career. I understood early what mattered - doing the right thing and creating a team with members who had respect for one another (other leaders later in my career confirmed these ideas).
You probably are not in the military - so what's my point for you? Leadership in any endeavor is a team sport accomplished for a higher purpose. That higher purpose is not profit margin, or growth, or market share. Its behavior driven by a greater purpose. See these two links from Simon Sinek - Why and Great Leaders.
Review part 1 as well.
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...And, feel free to send me comments or questions.