Leader Development…or… Today’s Tom Sawyer…DeMarco Banter

SullustanPilot-SWGTCGSoC[The] original lyrics were kind of a portrait of a modern day rebel, a free-spirited individualist striding through the world wide-eyed and purposeful. I added the themes of reconciling the boy and man in myself, and the difference between what people are and what others perceive them to be – namely me I guess.” -Neil Peart

The world I find my self working in is getting more competitive everyday… I have said it many times over… and honestly, I don’t think I could compete as a young 20 something anymore.  Where I was when I entered this field and where I see our young folks today…I’d be done.  As we look at the incredible pool of talent…we have to ask how are we making our selections to hire.  This career can be unmerciful…demanding in ways other career fields can not even image, the pressure to perform, quick decisions, responsibility, in some cases…life and death decisions fall into your lap–once selected…how are we developing our leaders?

Rush’s Tom Sawyer seems like an odd “leadership” type song…but it screams of the essence of leadership…A modern-day warrior…Though his mind is not for rent,  Don’t put him down as arrogant. His reserve, a quiet defense, Riding out the day’s events.  And what you say about his company …Is what you say about society. Always hopeful, yet discontent,  …. He knows changes aren’t permanent, 

In my bent mind… it got me thinking about leadership and development….you see many years ago, I was that “Tom Sawyer,” now we have to ensure we are developing tomorrow’s.

Are we recruiting leaders…modern day warriors? In a recent HR civilian study of 700 professionals…59% felt there was a shortage of leaders, it would be interesting to ask the same question in the military today.  To fill the gap these civilian firms are looking to build strong leadership, coherent, and intentional development programs–might it be wise for the military to do the same?

It would appear that leadership is indeed a brand among our “modern day warriors“—and a brand can not just stand it must be developed and nurtured.  As such there are seven issues we have to address.

1) Commitment of time and funds.  If leadership is our brand…how are we developing that brand?  Leadership development requires a commitment, that commitment demands robust leadership development programs to manage our inherent attrition.  We have warriors leave the service, retire, we have deficits in our leadership “pipeline,” and in some cases our warriors give the ultimate sacrifice….

2) We require a “leadership strategy.”  Can we point to a development program or design and call it our intentional leadership development strategy?  To be competitive we have to demand strong leaders and where will those leaders come from if we are not actively building them?  Most all of our “modern day warriors” understand their core job…I assure you, our pilots and aircrew members are no doubt the finest in the world, but few are aware of the interconnectivness of leadership needs or understand how to devise strategies to meet those needs and mesh those with tactical, operational and eventually strategic goals.  Few leaders inherently provide visionary leadership, reach beyond parochial concerns, and integrate with other organizational priorities…few understand mentoring or how to maintain said leadership development practices for the next generation.

3) We can not ignore…today’s leaders NEED new competencies…we have to develop leaders that can innovate and collaborate.  We have to impart people management skills, sensitivity and understanding of true diversity issues.

4) To steal an old US Navy pitch… we are a “global force for good”…as such we live, exist, travel, work internationally everyday, our leaders must have a global perspective and must be able to operate anywhere at anytime.  We do an exceptional job at getting our force deployed, but what do our leaders know of the culture, the history of where they operate?

5) Our leaders must be technologically savvy…in our job we depend on technology everyday, but do we have the best technology?  Should it require hours of training to use a custom developed office suite?  Civilian companies could never exist as we do…demanding hours of training to utilize a simple office tasking tool or a blog-like info sharing system.  Leaders must be able to communicate and collaborate seamlessly…we are not there yet and it is a requirement for our leaders to develop.

6) Different levels of leadership demand different leadership skills.  We have to be clear when developing tactical, operational, and strategic leaders…we MUST clearly articulate the differences and the expectations at each level.  Leadership does not stop with general officers.  High-impact organizations need leaders at every level.  Do we develop our leaders from the bottom up or the top down?  Do we know?

7) Leadership development is a process NOT a program.  It is not a school, it is not an event, it is not an off-sight… it is a culture.  The goal of leadership development is not to simply impart knowledge, but to develop warriors on how to take action in the most effective and efficient manner.

Perhaps it is too long…or too redundant of a wish list….thoughts?

A modern-day warrior
Mean mean stride,
Today’s Tom Sawyer
Mean mean pride.

Though his mind is not for rent,
Don’t put him down as arrogant.
His reserve, a quiet defense,
Riding out the day’s events.
The river

And what you say about his company
Is what you say about society.
Catch the mist, catch the myth
Catch the mystery, catch the drift.

The world is, the world is,
Love and life are deep,
Maybe as his eyes are wide.

Today’s Tom Sawyer,
He gets high on you,
And the space he invades
He gets by on you.

No, his mind is not for rent
To any god or government.
Always hopeful, yet discontent,
He knows changes aren’t permanent,
But change is.

And what you say about his company
Is what you say about society.
Catch the witness, catch the wit,
Catch the spirit, catch the spit.

The world is, the world is,
Love and life are deep,
Maybe as his skies are wide.

Exit the warrior,
Today’s Tom Sawyer,
He gets high on you,
And the energy you trade,
He gets right on to the friction of the day.

2 Replies to “Leader Development…or… Today’s Tom Sawyer…DeMarco Banter”

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