Leadership Lessons From the Field

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM THE FIELD

Bryan Stewart

Leadership, and the development of leaders is very important to the Timothy Group.  We spend a lot of time, energy and resources working with young men building leadership skills that they can use to be better men.

One such occasion happened mid August of 2013.  Seven young men ranging in age from 15- 24 years participated in a team building exercise in Alabama.  All of the students were graduates of the Timothy Group Challenge Basic program.  Some are part of the 2013 staff team, while others are active duty Military officers.  They all had one thing in common; the desire to be a better leader.

The training was conducted by LightHorse Tactical located in Alabaster, Alabama.  They are a company designed to develop skills of Law Enforcement Officers as well as civilians.  

It was a great opportunity to watch the career military and current Police Officers instruct our team in leadership.  They brought a fresh perspective to the training we needed.

I will not give away too much information for those interested in attending a future exercise.  The element of surprise is a wonderful training tool.

Team Stonewall started out with an unknown number of obstacle in front of them.  The instructors gave clear and concise directions.  They were assigned a commander and co-commander.  This proved interesting as the instructors would “fire and hire” a new set of leaders at random.  This emphasized to the individual members of the team that they had to pay attention to what was going on and not “zone out”.  At any time they could be leading the team.  This was not a time for passive or lazy leadership.

Each obstacle challenged their ability to mitigate distractions and focus the team on their mission.  For instance, at one point one of the students was told to put on a gas mask.  Now, the team was managing the gear that they continued to collect at each obstacle as well as instructions from the cadre and the new distraction of having a team member that was hindered by the mask.  

Through out the exercise they learned some valuable lessons.  One of which I would like to expand on.  Managing resources and personnel.  Many books have been published detailing the importance of the leader to the organization.  Let’s face it, we need leaders to lead and direct.  What happens tho when the leader ceases to lead but focuses his energy on the task at hand?

We have a dis-jointed team struggling to work together.  The leader is happy in his new found work, feverishly tying knots or crunching numbers.  Meanwhile, the other members of the team are lost, either jumping in to help not sure what they are doing, or standing idly by not doing anything.  

The team element falls apart, the individuals are frustrated and the leader wonders why productivity dropped.  

This did not happen to this extent to Team Stonewall.  It would have, if they were allowed to continue for a longer period of time.  

The difference between young exuberant leadership and mature command leadership is the one jumps into a task to complete it himself, the other considers the task as well as future task and commands his personnel and resources effectively.

They both get the job done, but with different and varied results.  

Team Stonewall found their rhythm in the exercise and begin to better manage their personnel and resources.  They started writing down all the gear they were given, organizing it on the ground at each obstacle, the assigned leader began working with his second in command to strategize and plan for the next obstacle.  The team was less disjointed, more focused.

As you go through your challenges of the day, consider how you lead.  Do you take over and do all the work yourself?  Mumbling that old phrase, “...if you want something done right do it yourself...” Or do you consider your task and the people you have around you?  Assigning the right person for the task and keeping up with your equipment, and looking ahead to the next task.  Perhaps someone is standing around do nothing because you are doing their job and not using your manpower and resources effectively. 

Leadership is a wonderful tool and sometimes the best leader is one who not only leads from the front,  but leads from within the team providing the training, motivation and wisdom that team needs.

LightHorse Tactical did a great job teaching command leadership to our guys.  I know that we will work with them in the future.  I would encourage you to sign up for one of our programs the Timothy Group offers to better hone you as a leader and challenge your command skills.  You will not be disappointed.