Imagine you are the new leader of an organization where you have no control over your budget, hiring, or mission. Despite that fact, you bear the ultimate responsibility for the future of the organization and the people who work there.

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But Whose Future Is It?

Your daily tasking ranges from the routine (cleaning toilets and counting tools) to the exquisitely complex (operating state-of-the-art environmental sensors and trouble-shooting electronics devices in hostile, hazardous workplaces). Your average employee is roughly 20 years old, has completed high school or perhaps a year of junior college, hasn’t seen his/her significant other for three months and assumes you are a combination of Dad and Attila the Hun.

The only thing you know for certain is that in the next 24 months, every member of your crew will be replaced by someone with less experience than the person they replace.

Against that backdrop, it is your responsibility to make sure that your organization gets the job done, AND that you turn the organization over to YOUR relief in better shape than you found it.

Given the constraints detailed above, how can you, as a leader, balance the urgent needs of today while being a responsible steward of the future?

That’s the challenge that faced by every front-line military leader. Some fail, some excel, some die trying, but regardless, that’s the challenge. The only way it works (and sometimes it doesn’t) is if the Leader adopts an attitude that works just as well in the civilian world as it does in the military, and that’s something that we at Crew11 refer to as a “selfless dedication to the Future”.

This is such a critical issue that The Leadership Circle, a company that produces on-line tools used to assess leadership behaviors, includes “Selfless Leader” as one of it’s core criteria. They define it as pursuing service over self-interest, “where the need for credit and personal ambition is far less important than creative results which serve a common good”. (Full disclosure: Crew11 partners with The Leadership Circle.)

So, what’s your Future? It’s up to you. Our experience shows that it’s more likely you’ll achieve your goals if you see yourself as a caretaker of the present and future organization and its strategy. Great leaders believe deep-down that the success of the organization is more important than that of any single person, including themselves, and it shows.


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