Know your strengths AND your weaknesses
An effective military leader will know and understand the strengths they possess and how those impact the mission they have to accomplish. They will work to maximize their strengths whenever possible and in capitalizing on their strengths will see greater success for their entire team. For most leaders this would be good enough but not for an effective military leader who wants to be a great leader. They are not only aware of their strengths but also keenly aware of the weaknesses they possess. To keep the team running at an optimal level of performance they will work to surround themselves with those whose strengths compensate for the areas they are weaker in. As a leader they understand winning is not just about their performance but rather about maximizing the performance of the entire team. Credit for the win goes to the team; the leader takes the blame for failures along the way.
A great leader will also work not to avoid weaknesses but to strengthen them along the way. Self-improvement and growth is an important part of being a great leader. The military provides a myriad of opportunities for self-improvement. There are many voluntary courses which can be taken to improve skills and proficiencies at all levels. Additionally, leadership development is a key component of career progression. Most outside of the military do not know that professional development courses are taught from mid-level enlisted ranks through the senior enlisted ranks. These courses are mandatory before one can be considered eligible for promotion to the next higher pay grade. In the officer corps, leadership is ongoing and formalized after your first 4 years of service and never stops. Of the three main courses which are given, two of the three award a Master’s degree (speaking from the perspective of an Air Force career, other branches have similar development requirements). It is this focus on education and continuous improvement which allows a leader to grow and work to overcome weaknesses they may have.
Dennis Davis, Chief Translation Officer