Assignment 1: How Does One Practice Self Leadership? Essay

1. To me, leadership means displaying traits that inspire trust, confidence, inspiration, accountability and one’s ability to guide an individual or organization.

2. Some of the earliest leadership influences I experienced came from when I was a non-rate on the deck force of the CGC MONHEGAN, a 110′ WPB. The Boatswains Mates that ran the deck force were total opposites. I felt like a son born of two fathers, and they were fighting for possession of my soul.

3. On the one hand, I had a leader whose style leaned towards coaching and mentoring. He seemed to be a natural teacher and it felt as if I was working with my big brother. This is not to say he was soft, he certainly put me in my place when it was warranted, but he got his point across without having to resort to intrusive leadership. He led from the front, backing up his words with action and lived up to the standards he set. I never wanted to disappoint this man. This is someone that I could emulate without fear.

4. On the other hand the other Boatswains Mate was not a great mentor. He relied on negative reinforcement and frequently belittled his subordinates in order to get his point across. He had unrealistic expectations about the level of knowledge a non-rate actually has coming out of recruit training. He did not lead from the front, nor did he lead by example. He did not inspire confidence nor trust. My lesson from this person was how not to be.

5. The behaviors from the LPI/360 feedback that I will improve and my plan for improvement are as follows: a. I don’t contribute as much as I should when it comes to topics that I am not familiar with. To improve on this, I will make an effort to be better informed and prepared, and step out of my comfort zone when dealing with topics that I am not familiar with. b. There is a perception that I am hiding the work that I am involved with from non-Storekeepers (SK’s). To mitigate this perception I will share a vision of the future with non-SK’s. I never realized that other ratings might be interested in the future of the SK rating and the impact all of these new initiatives will have on other ratings. c. I have not displayed as high a proficiency in strategic thinking as I should. The best course of action in my opinion would be to better build and develop my skills in strategic thinking by networking with people who are equipped with the knowledge, experience, and willingness to help me improve.

6. The Coast Guard both formally and informally, views leadership through the lens of leading others. Leading others is the logical path to follow given the nature of our missions. However, in order to effectively lead others, we must first learn to lead ourselves.

7. People respond favorably to strong, credible leaders. These leaders are the kind of people that have demonstrated through their own example, a clear sense of purpose, and have aligned their values to the Coast Guards values.

8. These strong, credible leaders have built reputations and are well respected throughout the organization. These leaders have established themselves through experiences that were both positive and negative. 9. Before these leaders were able to successfully lead others, they must have practiced some self leadership first. How does one practice self leadership?

10. First, you must know what direction you are taking. You will not be an effective leader unless you know where you are going. Sometimes this direction is provided to us as is the case in the Coast Guard. Fortunately, as a military organization, we receive orders from higher authority and our mission is to see the orders carried out.

11. Second, you need to discover your motivation. At times we don’t even know why we feel a certain way about things, which makes discovering your motivation critical. Take time to ask yourself the following: What drives you to succeed? What excites you about accomplishing a mission? Articulate what motivates you.

12. Third, you need to identify the path you will take that will lead you to success. In the Coast Guard this can take the form of what type of billet you will seek during the transfer season, seeking a special assignment, or finding opportunities for training and education. Look at some of your past experiences and those of others for inspiration.

13. Naysayers might claim that we should all be able to lead by virtue of our rank and position power, and that as Chiefs, Chief Warrant Officers, or Officers, our subordinates or team mates should simply do as they are told as per military tradition.

14.In contrast to this idea; if you do not lead yourself first, it will clearly show itself in the end and will cause you to lose credibility. Recruit Company Commanders are a great example for the need to practice self leadership. They are required to be able to do everything that they demand of the recruits entrusted to their care. How quickly would a Company Commander lose his ability to successfully lead a company of recruits if that individual can’t pass the physical fitness assessment? How can the Company Commander expect the recruits to have sharp looking uniforms when their uniforms are subpar? Company Commanders must push themselves, by practicing self leadership and in this way, be the leaders that recruits will follow and emulate without fear.

15. We as an organization tend to focus our energy externally when it comes to leadership. This manner of thinking is logical given the nature of the Coast Guard as an organization. However, in order to effectively lead others, we must first learn to lead ourselves.