"Thoughts from the Running Trail" - Leadership and Taking Action
Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa
At Combined Joint Task Force – You hear us talk about Ubuntu which is an African Proverb that expresses unity through diversity. One of Ubuntu’s meanings is, “I am because we are.” An individual does not exist without the community; and a community cannot exist without an individual. It can be used the same within a team or an organization. Said another way; “It is not thee, it is we,” and that is how we use the proverb Ubuntu at CJTF-HOA.
We are ONE organization; we work together in the spirit of Ubuntu. The SgtMaj and I like to stress the importance of communication and over communicating; because with the rate that our teammates come and go here in this great CJTF, there really isn’t such a thing as over communicating. Also, we must focus on unity of effort, respect throughout our team, and work together on all challenges to deliver the best results. We must synchronize and align our efforts towards the mission.
The SgtMaj and I speak and write about engaged and intrusive leadership because it pertains to everything we do, how we conduct business, manage our teams and carry out the important mission we have in East Africa.
The word engage simply means get in there and be proactive. We can’t say it any easier than that. Taking care of your teammates is not always an easy task and a large part of taking care of an individual is getting to know them, understand them, care about them and treat everyone with dignity and respect always. As engaged leaders we also need to be aware of our surroundings, of the dynamics and how people are interacting and performing on any given day.
We also need to have the courage to address the difficult situations that put us outside our comfort zone and may make people uncomfortable, but need to be talked about and also require us to listen. Not doing something will allow such situations to cause more harm and can lead to destructive behaviors and also impact your unit’s morale and mission readiness.
Though it is not an easy task we must have the courage to intervene, to help and to find a resolution. Specifically, we must, as leaders, step up to prevent and stop assault and destructive behavior. Being sensitive to and recognizing that something is wrong is not enough; as leaders, we must also respond to any situation where it appears there is something abusive happening with, by or to those we are responsible to protect. This could be verbal, psychological, sexual or physical abuse.
When you think about it, we send our service members into combat operations, or on missions to the 10 different countries here in East Africa and our service members perform brilliantly. They would also do whatever it takes to protect one another on their left and their right no matter the situation, no matter the cost.
We have that same obligation to do whatever it takes off the battlefield to protect our teammates. It should not be any different. You have all heard the phrase “I am my brother and sister’s keeper.” That means not just when we have our uniform on. We are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines 24/7. We are responsible to each other and we are accountable for our actions always.
We are on the front lines of this battle and together we can and must neutralize these issues like we do our adversaries and continue to lead the way.
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother…” ~ William Shakespeare.
Ubuntu, see you on the running trail…