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This paper will discuss past leadership on my personal experiences as a follower and as a leader. A host of questions about my experiences as a leader and follower will be addressed and answered in the body of this paper.
It’s not as easy to be in a leadership position as some may think. Effective leaders possess a multitude of characteristics that enable them to lead. Characteristics such as adaptability, excellent communication skills, respect, enthusiasm and open-mindedness are all traits that strong leaders. These leadership traits, while very key, take a back seat to one very important trait, which is being a good follower. Before a leader can efficiently take the reins, (so to speak), they must learn to be a good follower. Those that have never followed can never effectively lead, (this is my personal opinion of course). In this paper we will look at my personal experiences as a follower and as a leader. Many questions about my personal experiences will be addressed and answered in the pages to come. To begin, I will answer the question, “Was I ever in a leadership role”.
Many times in the past I have taken on a role as a leader. Be it a planning committee that I chaired, or a project I was working with others on. I have had my fair share of leadership roles, but one stands out above all others. Four days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, I was deployed to an undisclosed location in the Middle East. Prior to my departure, I was designated “Troop Commander” of the attachment of six intelligence analysts that were being sent to the region to assist the Special Forces personnel with initial target intelligence assessments.
At the time of this deployment, I was 23 years old and had never been in-charge of anything other than a Holiday Party Planning Committee, (so obviously I was fairly unexperienced when it came to leadership). The trip was long and all any of us could think of was what to expect when we landed. After 38 hours of travelling, the flight crew notified us that the plane was going to make a combat decent into the air base that we were heading to. (For those that don’t know a combat decent is an aerial maneuver that is done to take the aircraft from cruising altitude, (approximately 38,000 feet), to the ground within about three minutes). Upon landing, we taxied for a minute and then came to a stop in the middle of the runway. The back ramp to the plane began to open and a British Special Air Service (SAS) officer came on board. He informed all of us that we were in a very hostile area and gunfire had been exchanged with enemy forces just a few minutes prior to our arrival. Almost at that exact moment, gunfire erupted and rounds started hitting the aircraft. We were sitting ducks and had to move to a more fortified location immediately. I instructed my troops to gear up and get ready to move, (this was my first order that I had ever given anyone). I divided the seven of us into two separate squads, (one squad of three and one of four). We waited for a lull in the fire and I gave the order to “move out”. Upon the execution of the order to “move out”, we all took off running for a bunker complex over 300 yards away. I brought up the rear to ensure my troops stayed in my sight and in case they fell or were wounded, I could pick them up and carry them. For the entire sprint to the bunker I was shouting to them things such as, “Keep it up, you can do this”, and “Don’t quit, don’t slow down, I’m behind you”, (the entire time we had bullets and tracer rounds flying past our heads). We arrived at the bunker complex within a couple minutes and were safe, (for the time being). Like I stated earlier, this scenario was the first where I was in a leadership position. Looking back at this situation, there are a few questions that need answering. The first being, “How effective was I as a leader”.
I would say that I was a fairly effective leader in the situation I explained above. Being my first role as a leader, I feel that I did a good job overall given the circumstances. You have to realize the gravity of the situation we were all thrown into. We were all intelligence analysts, (intelligence analysts are rarely put in positions where they would be under fire), and not prepared for what we were walking into. Do I think that there were ways that I could have been a better, more effective leader? I believe that if I had more time to prepare for the situation that we were thrown into, I could have been slightly more effective. I would have “pumped” my troops up a bit more before we left so they would be ready to face a combat situation. I also believe that there are no “perfect” leaders out there and that everybody in a position of leadership can improve in one way or another. Overall, I think I did a decent job of motivating my troops to get to their objective, and I was prepared to endure personal injury to ensure that they all survived. Now, I will move onto explain a situation where another individual was the leader and I had to follow.
On yet another separate deployment in June of 2003, I was sent to Kabul, Afghanistan. I was the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) on this deployment, but I was not the one in-charge overall. 1st Lieutenant Brian Tucker was our Officer In-Charge (OIC) during this deployment, (but he didn’t do a very good job of leading). One particular scenario identifies his lack of leadership. It was a typical day while deployed, work all day and then go back to our tent and relax a bit. I had worked a twelve hour day out in the sun and was exhausted. I was lying on my bunk when I heard explosions off in the distance, and then the ever-annoying wavering siren announcing an attack on our position. Instead of our Lieutenant giving us the order to get to our bunker, (which was 50 yards away), he gave no orders and started to panic asking everyone “What do we do?” This instilled little faith in me that he was prepared to lead us in any way. In answering his question I instructed everyone in the tent to “Get your Asses to the bunker now!! Grab your chem gear, (chemical warfare protection suits/masks), and move.” I’m sure that this was actually a funny sight for onlookers, as I took off in a sprint for the bunker in a black t-shirt, gas mask, Kevlar helmet, unlaced boots and a pair of boxer’s with X’s and O’s on them, (my wife had sent them to me in a care package). Upon arriving at the bunker, I instructed all of the personnel inside to don their chemical warfare gear. I asked the Lieutenant what he wanted to do next and he replied, “I’m not sure. What do you think?” I was flabbergasted, but we needed to defend ourselves against the enemy forces that were currently infiltrating our base. I ordered one of my Airman to grab an M-16 and defend the bunker entrance with me. Our Lieutenant sat towards the back of the bunker and said nothing. We were hearing small arms fire and grenades going off and the sounds were getting closer to our position. After about five minutes, two men came running at our position from about 100 yards straight out from the bunker. They were carrying AK-47 assault rifles and were hell bent on unloading every round they had at us. I asked the Lieutenant for an order and received no reply. I then decided to take matters into my own hands and gave the order to “fire”. While bullets were hitting the bunker walls all around us, we returned fire at the two individuals and effectively lowered their blood pressure, (so to speak). After all was said and done, all Americans in our bunker were fine and there were two dead Jihadists on the ground 40 yards from our position. Now that we have gone over the scenario, let’s answer some questions about our fearless leader.
“How effective was the leader?” Well, to put it mildly, he was completely ineffective. He lacked command presence, communication skills, adaptability and courage. Granted, he was in a hostile situation and expected to lead us all, but as an officer, he should have been semi-prepared to act. I believe that Lieutenant Tucker could have been a more effective leader if he had done “something”. He in effect did nothing at all and let me pick up the slack. If Lieutenant Tucker had communicated any command, given any order, showed some backbone, shown some semblance of command presence, and adapted to the situation, he would probably would have come through the ordeal in good shape and gained the respect of all the troops. Instead, he did the exact opposite and lost respect and trust by not reacting at all, (although I suppose not reacting is a reaction).
As you can see, it’s not as easy to be in a leadership position as some may think. Before a leader can be efficient in their role they must learn to be a good follower. I would also like to re-state that those that have never followed could never effectively lead, (again, this is my personal opinion). I believe that in the situation where I had to lead, I possessed the qualities and characteristics required to be an effective leader. The exact opposite took place in the case of Lieutenant Tucker, but the situation also depicted, (in a way), how to be a good follower, until you are called on to lead. In this paper we looked at my personal experiences as a leader and a follower. Many questions about my personal experiences were addressed and answered in the previous pages. Looking back on my experiences it made me realize a bit about my potential as a leader, (and follower). I believe that with a little grooming, I have what it takes to lead in any situation that comes my way.
You have included the three main parts of an essay (introduction, main body, conclusion). Spelling, punctation, and grammar are accurate. Good work. A few things to bear in mind for future development: This seems to be an informal personal account rather than an essay. Personal pronouns and contractions are not normally used in academic writing. The introduction should begin with the broad/wide topic, then mention the parts of the topic that you will be focusing on and end with a thesis statement. The main body points/arguments normally follow the structure of topic sentence, evidence (cited), explanation, and concluding sentence. There are usually 3-5 points/arguments made in the average essay (each in a new paragraph). The conclusion should paraphrase the thesis, summarize the main points/arguments and end with a broad/wide statement about the topic in general.
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