Today, we’re going to cover the second lesson from Starship Troopers. This is the second lesson in the mini-series. If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.
Lesson # 2: It’s hard to lead people if you’ve never been in their shoes.
Quote: “A man ought to fill each spot on his way up.”
My Take: The best leaders are leaders that have been there and done that. One of the reasons NCOs are so effective at leading Soldiers is that they were at one time young Soldiers. They have worked their way up the ranks and got experience. They know what it’s like to be young and inexperienced. They know the problems their Soldiers deal with on a day-to-day basis and they can relate to them better.
When it comes to Officers, I’ve found that the most successful officers (in most cases anyway) were Soldiers BEFORE they earned their commission. They spent some time as a Soldier, so when they become a leader they are GROUNDED. They can relate to their troops and they always have their troops on their mind when they make a decision. I know I spent almost five years enlisted before I earned my commission and it had a tremendous impact on my leadership abilities and decision making process.
Here’s the bottom line. If you can’t relate to the people you’re leading (in any profession) it will be difficult to be successful as their leader. There’s nothing wrong with starting at the bottom and working your way up to the top of the organization. When you do that, you will be a much better leader.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.