This is my thirty-third weekly Blog regarding the state of leadership in America. As a former US Army officer, the training I received was designed to push me and my fellow soldiers to the limit of our endurance and it did. Carrying a heavy back pack and rifle for miles in forced march conditions with summertime heat and humidity drained the energy out of us. And when we thought we could not go another step, the drill instructors acted like we were just out on a Sunday stroll and with as uncaring an attitude as possible, ordered us to pick up the pace and continue to march. Every time I thought I could not continue, I somehow found the strength to keep going, and more importantly I began to believe that I can do this; that I can push myself and accomplish more than I ever thought possible if I’m completely committed to the task at hand and believe that I can do this. I have never forgotten the lessons in endurance, commitment, and self-confidence that I learned during my time in the Army and I incorporated them into my life. As a supervisor who worked for several Departments in the Federal Government, I often heard people say upon receiving an assignment and deadline that they would try to get it done on time or that they’ll do their best to get it done. Often there was little push back by many of the supervisors issuing the assignments and in a significant number of cases, these employees did not complete their assignments on schedule. While they gave reasons for their failure, good leaders know that the statements, “I’ll try hard to get it done” and “I’ll do my best” are in reality indicators of a lack of strong commitment and self-confidence by these employees in their ability to accomplish their assignments by set deadlines. Good leaders recognize this and will work to improve their employees’ ability to get the job done by staying engaged and committed to leading the way by working to build their employees’ self-confidence and belief that individually and collectively they are able to do more than they ever thought possible. To be successful, leaders must believe and invest in their employees and employees must believe in themselves and their leaders. Good leaders, like good drill instructors, know how hard to drive their employees or soldiers so that they can stretch and grow more committed and confident. To create and maintain a robust and competitive organization, good leaders must strive every day to create a corporate environment and culture where everyone makes a commitment to each other to motivate themselves to get the job done no matter what. Good leaders ensure that everyone realizes that there is no prize for trying. In the end, life rewards those who do, not those who try.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Defense and Army in numerous leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a human resources director. Mr. Okum has written ”Leadership DNA,” a provocative and useful guide book allowing readers to broaden their understanding about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. This guide book shows you the various aspects of leadership, including examining good leaders’ behavior patterns as well as learning how to achieve your objectives and deal with poor managers that can potentially cripple you and your organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and Leadership DNA, visit