I wouldn't trade these years for anything and it's the reason I spend at least two weeks a month away from my husband, not willing to give it up for a desk at headquarters. My husband too is a leader. He knows that if he asked-- I'd quit my career in a heartbeat as he is more important, just as he knows he won't ask that of me, for he totally gets it.
These thoughts here tonight, are based on the core principals of military leadership that many have passed on to me, as well as things I just learned by watching bad leaders as well as making my own mistakes, finding my way. I revisit them regularly, and with humbleness.
Seek out your strengths and weaknesses, even the ones you can't see yet, and look to improve on those daily. Do it openly, do it quietly, but each day try to improve on something in which you are lacking and perform just a bit better on those things of which you are skilled. Teach those with you to do the same.
Seek responsibility and take it. A key leadership principle is that we ALL make mistakes, but it's how we respond to them that separates the "men from the boys", as they say. If you make a mistake and blame someone else, no one is ever going to trust you again (though some people might be stupid enough to vote for you again).
Your Mom doesn't work here. If you screw something up, own it, don't wait for someone to make an excuse for you or correct it for you. If you break it, fix it, if you open it, close it. You are accountable for your actions, you are accountable for your outcomes.
The rules that apply to your team, apply to you. If they have to sort it, document it, retain it, verify it, or fill out 8 forms for it, SO DO YOU.
Lead from the front. You are setting the example. If you are thinking "just this one time", or "let's take a shortcut", "let's just this once, sacrifice a (little) standard", whatever it is, then your team will be OK with it too when you're not looking. Hold yourself to a higher standard, and they will try to as well.
Questions are less bloody than not asking them.
Know yourself, but know your team as well, and look out for their welfare like your own. Loyalty may be bought, but only very briefly. Be compassionate, but be firm, and be clear that what they offer is important. If they know that they can count on you, you can count on them.
Successful missions come in threes - the mission you plan, the mission you do, and the mission you wish you had done.
Some things are classified, but don't be a mushroom farmer. Keep people informed. Share those things that may not necessarily be their specialty, or even within their current technical grasp. They will learn, and they will feel included and valuable, for they are.
Successful completion of a task depends upon how well you know your unit’s capabilities. Don't give out a task you have not prepared them to do. Experiments are for a science lab, not the field.
You set the standards by what behaviors you ignore, reward and punish.
There is no "I" in "Team" but there's "Me" if you rearrange the letters. Yes, and No. Respect the individual, know the individual. But train and cross train as a team, individuals have weaknesses, teams learn to compensate and overcome them. Reward is not the only thing shared, responsibility is.
Just because it's not your fault, doesn't mean it's not your problem.
Trust but Verify. You have to trust your team to do their job without micromanaging every step. But verify it's done to the standards you have set, standards that are clearly communicated and adequately supervised. For their mistakes aren't just theirs, they are yours, for you are accountable and creditable with your superiors.
Recognize not just physical courage but moral courage. Standing firm on values, principles and convictions is just as important as putting life and limb on the line.
Know your limitations. Not just your own, but the limitations of your team and the individuals that comprise it, as well as those of your organization as a whole, at the highest level. If you know that, you know when to call in back up and how and who to call for back up. And don't be afraid to, no matter whose toes or egos get stepped on. There are jobs, where failing that might mean a bad meal, a bad haircut, loss of income, or a loss of face for someone. In some positions, failing that means people will die. NEVER forget that.
Never get so self important that you can't take advice from the probie.