HARD lessons about myself as a WAR TIME LEADER: Learning from Leadership Experiences

My life coach used to tell me that the true test of leadership comes in time of crisis. It is simple to be a peace time leader, but how will you react in times of crisis?

Got a Good Service Medal this year. This means that I’m half way through my liabilities.

Recently, I was put to a mini test during my 10-day stint as a reservist with the Navy, being put into the role of acting company quartermaster. Although I’m with the same company for the past four service periods, there is still a learning curve; I have two days to learn the quartermaster’s role, after which, plan and execute logistical arrangement for a 3 days 2 night mission for my company while he’s away.

I wonder how many people may think that I am crazy, but I am thankful for the opportunity that was given to me. I learnt a lot of hard things about myself and deep down inside me somewhere, I actually hope that I will be given the chance to do this all over again, and perhaps redeem myself where I found that there were shortcomings. And this is even though I knew that holding an appointment means extra time and extra work in service, and missing out on my “vacation” away from work.

Crisis is good. Test me. I’m quite confident I can pull through it and I will contribute better the next time.

*****

By the way, these are some of the takeaways I had learnt through the experience:

The Art of Delegation

This is where I thought I fare better. After observing someone else on the job, I knew I must delegate as much as possible. I usually take it upon myself that I should be doing the most difficult job, after all, shouldn’t the leader should the most difficult items in the list?

Going through the process, I realised, not quite. I should be shouldering the items that cannot be done by someone else in the list.

Aside from that, who to delegate for what task is another crucial factor.

Commands are just Necessary Communications

I feel shy about “commanding” people. Thinking back, we are all in the same team. Our success depends on each other and one of my roles is to communicate directions. Without directions, the company will be “lost” (although, strictly speaking, the winner of three consecutive Best NS Men Unit are a great bunch, has lots of initiatives, largely automatic and won’t be that lost).

My feel is that directions needs to be clear, affirmative and decisive (and definitely, not rude!). They are a form of communication too, absolutely necessary for success and there’s nothing to be shy or embarrassed about. Oh yes, and ranks don’t matter.

Quick and Accurate Decisions

I still hold back on decisions that needs to be made quickly. Decisions are needed in order to keep moving. Slow decisions, work done slowly. Hasty decisions, reaped what you have sown. How to balance between the speed and accuracy of the decisions, or even better, have the cake and eat it too, I guess I need to do more of it and the experience will pull me through.

*****

What I am most thankful through this experience, is to find that people are pretty willing to give frank opinions about me, and offer me their support.

I’m very grateful for the pep talk that OC gave me while we are out on the mission. His candid feedback gave me a lot of learning points about my strengths and blind spots. “F”, the guy with an infectious laughter who brightens up the room, who not only initiated some of the best ideas but a doer as well, as he helped to carried the ideas out with me. “O”, who prefer to stay out of the limelight and hides in a corner, but never failed me when I needed help.

There were many many others too I would like to thank, who in their own ways had lighten the burden I carried.

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