Source | LinkedIn : By Michael Shipley
Strength is leading when you just don’t want to lead – Stanley A. McChrystal
As leaders, there is something special about sharing in the experiences of those we lead, both the good and bad. You gain an appreciation for trials they may face, you share in the joy of their victories, and you help to guide them in times of defeat. Back during the winter of 2015, I encountered my first real experience with a superior coming to share in the misery that is Mountains Phase of Ranger School. We had just completed a 6K movement up and down the hills of Dahlonega GA when we finally made it to our patrol base for the night. Cold, wet, hungry, and sleep-deprived, the situation felt like it couldn’t get any worse… until it did. After we established our patrol base, like clockwork, the temperature dropped, the clouds came in, and it began to rain for the rest of the night. When morning finally came, I remember laying in the prone next to my Ranger buddy pretending we were “pulling security,” but in actuality, we were just alternating sleep cycles. That’s when my Ranger buddy kicked me awake as what looked like a Ranger Instructor (RI) was fast approaching. Thinking we had been caught, I quickly pulled myself together as this person dives into the prone next to me. Turns out it was the Ranger Chaplain who at some point had joined us on our patrol during that miserable night. At that point, I quickly turned to the Chaplain and asked, “Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what are doing?” Without hesitation, he turned his head toward me and said, “Ranger, you’re stuck embracing the suck out here, what type of Chaplain would I be if I didn’t come and embrace that suck with you?”
Moments like that are ones I’ll never forget. It showed me the importance of sharing experiences with those that you lead. By no means did I ever expect the Chaplain to do that, but it spoke volumes about the type of person he was because of it. As leaders, make sure to take the time to get “down and dirty” with those you lead. Avoid not “embracing the suck,” with subordinates just because you don’t have to and because it is comfortable for you. Especially if a decision you made is the reason your subordinates are going through trying times.
As a leader, there undoubtedly will be times where this won’t happen due to conditions out of your control. The point here is to make the effort when able to connect with those you lead. Take the time to get to know them, their family situations and what is happening in their lives. It shows that you care and that you are involved. This type of leadership will go a long way in showing those you lead what type of person you really are and that you are someone they will want to follow in the future.
As an Army Ranger, leadership is a topic that is close to my heart because I was fortunate to be around such great leaders. Share in the experiences of those you lead. Get off the sideline and set the example. It will certainly be uncomfortable and difficult at times, but so is leadership if you truly want to be someone who makes an impact.