It wasn’t until I joined the military that I learned what leadership was…

Years ago, I worked at a popular athletic shoe store.  For over two years I held the title “manager” thinking I was also a leader to my employees.  “Grab this customer’s shoe, while I work the register” was a common phrase.  As I multitasked with my employees, I failed to realize they were still lacking quality personal guidance and leadership from me.  I thought it was what I was doing however, I was wrong, very wrong. 

In fact, it wasn’t until I joined the military that I learned what a leader was.  I had been led; I saw firsthand the impact of an effective leader on the mission.  I had the ability to exercise my own leadership skills, take charge of a team, and reap the benefits of my decisions.  Organizations are better off when leaders are in managerial positions.

Many people wonder why the culture of the military breeds great leaders.  It’s oftentimes one of the most marketable skills companies look for when hiring Veterans.  Corporations know military members that have spent years inside a branch of Uniformed Service have a strong propensity to bring astute leadership skills to their corporation.   After 19 years of military service, there are 3 tips that will assist any Organization in developing their managers into good leaders. 

The first tip is to have a vested interest in your employees goals personally and professionally.  Understanding where they want to go in the organization helps you assist personalized planning and execution to help them get there.  This allows for a two-way trusting, hardworking relationship. 

The second tip I’d offer is to “roll your sleeves up” and assist where you can.  There’s nothing like a supervisor or manager showing leadership skills by exuding teamwork in helping accomplish the job or project.  Seeing a manager assist the team motivates the employees to work even harder.   As a junior troop, I remember the admiration in how I felt seeing my senior leadership, get down and dirty just like us.

Lastly, tip number three never stop training and mentoring.  Being in a leadership position is only as successful as the time and knowledge invested in your employee.  Taking time to train an employee shows them how much you care about their professional development.  This allows performance to meet or exceed your standard, as you can be proud and benefit from the impact of your great deeds.

Employees need managers and supervisors that can “lead” their teams to success, if put in the position to impact others which one are you going to be a leader or be led?

Tomina Ward is a 19-year Career Counselor, Mental Health Advocate & CEO BT Love LLC, Creator of the Black Therapy App.  Follow her on IG @black_therapy_love.  Email [email protected] for speaking engagements.