During your time in the military service it was crystal clear where you fell on the organizational chart, you had a rank and you knew exactly who your superiors were and what they expected from you. As you look to transition into the civilian working world, you may be a bit dismayed to know that often, those well-defined levels of authority may not exist in the way that you are used to. And that takes some adapting.
However, despite the fact that you will no longer be able to identify a chain of command based upon the insignia on a uniform, you can be assured that the leadership skills you learned during your time in service will guarantee your success as you look to navigate your new working environment.
Your new position may involve a management title – or it may not. However, one of the great things that you learned during your time in uniform is that you do not have to be in charge to be a leader. A leader can be anyone, despite rank, title or tenure. Leadership is not about power or prestige. A leader is someone who takes control of their lives to influence outcomes and inspire others.
To work towards success in your new position, you can incorporate the following leadership techniques into your professional life:
- Set the example. Your words and actions set the tone for how you want to be treated. If you want more responsibility, prove yourself dependable. If you want loyalty, don’t disparage your boss or another colleague to your coworkers. If you want more pay, justify your salary increase. Always hold yourself to a high professional standard, one that may even be higher than the one your boss holds for himself. When you set a positive example, you contribute to creating a more positive, professional environment.
- Earn respect, not praise. Stop looking for affirmation from your boss and your colleagues and start striving for respect - which can be earned by your hard work and integrity. You may never have the perfect relationship with each of your co-workers – but if you have their respect, then you’re in a great position to influences outcomes.
- Be an Effective Communicator. As problems and conflict arise within your new workspace, have the courage to voice your concerns. Confrontation can be difficult, but it’s easier than suffering through a bad situation. Approach your colleagues with tact – choose your words carefully to ensure your message is received clearly. Prepare yourself with suggestions and ideas. Always have proposed solutions ready when you plan to highlight a problem. It might be easy for you as the new employee to see where your new working environment could be improved – but chances are that your colleagues (and perhaps even your boss) are unaware that their actions or might be contributing to a less-than-perfect work environment. When you have the courage to address issues head-on, you will be surprised how quickly the environment improves.
Your continuing leadership efforts, even in situations where you might not have direct authority, will help you achieve success within your new career and will allow you to develop and maintain positive relationships with your civilian colleagues. And each step you take to maintain a strong leadership presence will bring you closer to the job satisfaction you seek.
We wish you well on your transition!
About Morgan and Lynch
Lead Star, LLC was founded by Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch, best-selling authors of the business book Leading from the Front (McGraw-Hill), who made a commitment to provide practical, relevant, and inspiring ways to grow and develop leaders. Lead Star teaches leadership based on Angie's and Courtney's experiences as Marine Corps officers, private sector professionals, and entrepreneurs. Lead Star's leadership expertise has been highlighted by FOX News, CNBC, and CNN and its efforts to spark a national dialogue on the topic of leadership have been noted in publications ranging from Inc. Magazine to The New York Times.