I wrote this in the "Who Are Your Mentors?" Post earlier today. A brother in a small town and difficult situation needed some help and this is what I came up with then and there. The beauty of this site is that we can reach out to each other and make a difference. Back when I was in his shoes, I didn't have this resource. What a difference it would have made! So here's what I wrote to him. I posted it here because just maybe there is someone else out there in the same boat, looking for a bucket to bail water.
You are among mentors throughout this website. All you need do is ask. Advice and experience are free for the taking.
I started out in a hard charging company, dog eat dog was the name of the game and leadership didn't exist. I moved on, and each department I worked for seemed to struggle with the same problem. Lack of leadership. Eventually, I got pissed off. Just about where you are.
I had the advantage perhaps of having been a U.S. Marine, I knew how to lead and I knew bad leadership. So I just started leading where I was, at the rank that I was and with confidence. It was never easy, but there was usually someone who grudingly gave way to my efforts because it clearly had a professional and positive affect. Many of those above me whose leadership I hated so much actually appreciated my efforts after a while. You would be suprised how many people, will approve of change in time, when they don't feel as though they could live up to it themselves.
How do you lead from the bottom? Well you begin by using a compass. Here is a good one: FTM-PTB-KTF-RFB-DTRT-EGH. You may have seen it before. It was in me long before I ever saw it in print. It translates like this: You fight the Mutts, at every corner, sometimes giving up a small battle, but taking aim at more important ones that you must win. You protect your brothers at all times, even the ones that don't deserve it. Step in the line of fire for them. You will gain support by doing so and the probies will begin to understand a part of this Brotherhood that they have not been exposed to before. Keep the Faith with these brothers. Always teach, always train, always embrace, always reach out and create a culture amongst yourselves that is irresistable to be a part of. It should not be based on hatred of Mutts either. Hate eats people up. It should be based on the beauty of our performance under fire and our comeradeship as a Band of Brothers. Keep this Faith alive, by observing the remembrance of fallen brothers in the right perspective. Let no one fall without noting their passing and let other learn from their deaths. That is how you prevent their sacrifice from being wasted. Then you make sure you always do the right thing. Always move in the right direction. You have to temper this, just like you do when you with FTM. Another brother I know puts it this way, "you only have so much change to spend, so spend it wisely. Save most of your change for the big fights" The "change in your pocket" is the credibility you have as a senior man or young officer. Spend it wisely in doing the right thing, for if you waste it on small, petty arguments, you will have nothing left to fight with when you really need all your crediblity on the table.
Last but not least. Make sure Everybody Goes Home. Do everything you can to provide the brothers training so that in the end your consience is clear. I often think about how my reputation for nipping at my chiefs heels must irritate them at times. But when I retire, maybe they'll get to say "See, you worried for nothing." I can take that. I don't ever want to have to say to them, "I warned you about this".
These days I am a senior officer with many years of probies behind me. My performance is daily haunted by the memories of poor officers that disgraced our profession. I remember each one, so that I do not become like them. I give my people everything I have. I tell them that their performance and skill is critical, because I can't leave them behind, and I want to see my family at the end of the tour, so they have to come back out of whatever we go into. And I come out last. I eat last, I take comfort last, I put myself last, them first. A leader shall always be a servant to his people if he truly wants to lead them. I keep my compass in front of me at all times and I always look in the mirror and try to see the flaws I know are there. None of us are perfect. We all drag a broken leg around behind us. But if you look at your mistakes and bad habits, you can begin to work on them, ............something the Mutts you face have never done.
Make the choice. Do I stay or go? If you stay, then you do so without regret or bitterness and you dig in for the long haul. You Can Do This! We are all here to help, just ask. You're not alone. Many, many of us have been in the same place, its the same story, ...different town.
You believe in this or you wouldn't have asked. Take it on. Be the leader you have been looking for, most often that's the only place your brothers are gonna find it. In you. Lead, Brother. Lead.