As a U.S. Army Reserve Special Forces officer, Chad Storlie learned from great leaders while serving in Iraq and Bosnia. He has applied those lessons to his corporate career as a sales and marketing executive for General Electric and Comcast.
When coaching employees to lead effectively, he draws upon his military experience in Iraq. Soon after he arrived in Baghdad, he faced challenging missions. One of his jobs was working with engineers to repair a burned-out building, while also sand-bagging and helping a security team protect the area.
After 10 hours of labor in intense summer heat, Storlie and his unit were halfway through their 20-hour workday. That’s when the Brigade Sergeant Major stopped by.
Instead of giving a little speech and moving on, the Sergeant Major asked questions: You all have enough water? Was there sufficient communication with headquarters? How can I help you ensure the Commander gets the best mission plans?
Impressed that the Sergeant Major sought input from staff officers and addressed their needs, Storlie now advises corporate managers to follow suit. He coaches them to solicit feedback and greet fresh ideas with an open mind, rather than give orders and spout opinions.
The Sergeant Major didn’t need to visit the work site, but his willingness to mingle with troops and observe what they were up against lifted everyone’s morale.
Similarly, Storlie coaches leaders to venture into the field to see firsthand what employees face.
— Adapted from “Not Just for the Military: Leadership by Example,” Chad Storlie, www.military.com.
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