Giving is part of leadership

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” Years serving in the military have shown me that service members are naturally willing to give so much – even their lives if need be – to serve our great nation and accomplish their mission? But what drives them to be willing to make the sacrifice that so much of our nations prosperity rests on, how does the military tap into the “Power of Giving?”

Giving of one’s self for the greater good of your country and your unit produces synergy, that sense that the people around you are committed and willing to sacrifice for the unit’s and each other’s success. The same young men that tremble afraid to ask a cheerleader out on a date one year, turn and face down the enemy with steely determination the next have profited many battlefields over the years. This metamorphosis of courage can be incorporated in your organization as well. Within this garment of resolve that clothes our men and women in uniform can be found a common thread that applies to every group. Give, do it openly and freely, this does not mean allowing others to walk over you but it does mean get off the couch, the bench wherever you are and pitch in. As members of an organization begin to give to the greater goals each individual will see themselves as part of something bigger than themselves and the effect will multiply.

Once in combat, far from base camp we got the order to “Fix Bayonets.” Freely translated that meant we were in it bad. It was a defining moments in my life. Every bit of resolve my 19 year old mind and heart could muster was tested. From that world two amazing things happened. First, I knew, with a calm resolve that on order I would move forward with the team giving my everything for our common defense. Second, the heavy fog lifted that had for days been keeping our air resupply out, as I saw through the glare of the rising sun a beautiful formation of Hueys were preparing to circle the nearby position of the enemy. We were not alone.

When the smoke cleared, the crisis was over, and the celebration of life began. We went from being willing to give everything to receiving the gift of living. The ordeal called upon our values, our resolve and our trust in each other as a team. It was a feeling of success that can move mountains.

In war these realizations are simple, the military places us in positions from time to time that are down right – in your face – growth opportunities. But they are not limited to the battlefield. We all find ourselves in positions where we are tested: Are you committed to the goals of your team, do you give freely without fear of rejection in an effort to ensure that the team gets the best from you? Or are you calculating your effort based on political return? I’m betting that if you have read this far you are a fighter. You are looking for ammunition to fuel you in the next battle. Set the tone as a leader and give while encouraging it in everyone on the team, it will ensure that they know they are valued and not just a cog in the wheel. Teams that share, that give and look for ways to endorse and support each other create an engine of success. As you head out into your next mission, put the sun to your back and load your team with people that give of themselves because winning counts, It will be easy to spot them, they will be the ones with their laptops closed and a willingness to praise other team members for their successes in your next staff meeting.

HMCS(FMF) Larry G. Tentinger, USN (Ret)

LtCol Garth Massey, USMCR, Pres MLMethods, MBA