The Leadership Epiphany

Duane OdumI was recently asked about some of the performance reviews I have received in the past, in a good way, or at least I hope that’s the case.  I immediately thought about my first performance review when I was in the US Army. I have to admit that I was furious with my review.  I only received top rating on one of five categories and my 19 year old ego could not handle such a blatant injustice.

When I asked the Drill Sergeant about the review he indicated that he was not comparing me to the other soldiers but rather what he thought I was comparing me to myself and what he believed I was capable of.  At that point I had a slight epiphany about leadership, no matter how you stack up to everyone else you need to be able to take ownership of the fact that it really does not matter, the only thing that matters is if you are giving the best of yourself to your job day in and day out.  If you cannot do that for yourself then there is no way that you can be an effective leader in the future because you will be doing those individuals you are leading a major injustice by not helping them live up to their full potential.

This little epiphany happened almost 14 years ago and when I start feeling a little “big headed” I always think about that conversation.  I would love to think that it was the profoundness of what was said that day, but in reality it is probably the three hours of physical training that I was put through after my Drill Sergeant answered my question like a true leader and then proceeded to vigorously punish me for questioning his review like he was supposed to do.

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