Last week, the Investment Casting Institute hosted the 63rd Annual Technical Conference and Expo. The key note speaker was Keni Thomas, a former Army Ranger who was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge from the United States Army. Keni was one of our brave soliders who fought in the “Black Hawk Down” battle in Mogadishu, Somalia.
If you have seen the movie “Black Hawk Down” then you know the story, but, his talk didn’t focus on what happened during that battle as much as the importance of leadership. He quoted the Army manual on Military Leadership’s definition of leadership: “Leadership is the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction and motivation.”
As he points out, there is nothing in the definition that mentions rank, position or pay-grade. Leadership is about the example you set regardless of where you fall in the pecking order.
Often times when we are faced with a problem at work, we wait for some one else to fix it. Keni’s point was that we shouldn’t wonder who is going to fix it but rather, we should just accept responsibility and get it done.
Imagine how much more we could get done if everyone adopted this philosophy. What if we spent time explaining to each team member the importance of their individual role and how it impacts the greater good? What if our organizations developed leaders rather than supervisors and managers, how much further along would the organization be?
At the end of his speech, Keni received a standing ovation. There is no doubt that part of this was a heart felt appreciation for what the military does to keep us safe and the sacrifices they make along the way. But, I also believe that his humble perspective of the value that every team member contributes to the greater good was a powerful wake-up call to the entire audience.
Thank you Keni Thomas. Thank you US Military. Thank you to those people in our lives that demonstrate leadership on a daily basis.