“A good leader should focus on making sure everyone is being given the tools to do their job, not just expecting – poof! – that they’re going to produce great work.”
This last week, I finished my job as commander for a unit in the Army Reserve. (Hence my lack of posts.) When I started I wasn’t sure how I would do. I am a creative type. I like to read, write and photograph. I tend to be fun and silly. I dislike paperwork and confrontations. These are not really the typical qualities of a commander.
However, I commanded for 29 months. Now that it is over, I look back and think, I did OK. Sometimes, I even think I did very well considering all the challenges. Of course, I am sure not everyone would agree though. But you can’t make everyone happy after all, and frankly, making everyone happy was not really the goal. The goal was to make the unit function, to make the Soldiers ready for possible deployments, to learn to work as a team.
I know that with all my heart, I worked diligently on those goals. It was hard. It was challenging. It even down right sucked at times to be honest. That is to be expected though I guess. If it were easy, they would not need commanders, right? When I left the unit yesterday, I paused and thought, what did I really accomplish?
When I looked at all the tasks I left my replacement with, I feared I failed. Then I took a step back and looked at all that was done. Sure, there was still a lot to do. There would always be a lot to do when you consider military budgets, aging equipment, personnel turnover and the complexity of humans in general. But I know I genuinely cared for the unit and my Soldiers. I was passionate about our mission. And one of my main goals was to get my unit the proper tools and training. I didn’t get everything I wanted for them, but I got a lot. I even had certain events and supplies set in motion to come later this year. So when I saw the quote above by Anee Sweeney, I smiled. I may not have crossed every task off my list, made everyone happy, or done everything perfectly. But in the end, I left my Soldiers with more tools to succeed than they had when I arrived. What they chose to do with them now though, is up to them…