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Instead of a Leader or a Follower, Be Someone That Makes a Difference | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Instead of a Leader or a Follower, Be Someone That Makes a Difference

We have all seen the questionnaires. Are you a leader or a follower? Identifying how you fit within an organization seems to be a common one. On the one hand, no one wants to be a follower, and on the other hand, few positions are truly filled with leaders. So where does that leave us? With a responsibility to improve the organization around us regardless of role or responsibility.

Improvement has always been a necessity for the military. During times of war it becomes more evident, but during times of peace it is just as important. Examples are easy to find throughout our history. As troops flowed into France after the D-Day assault, they faced the imposing hedgerows which surrounded the boundaries of fields. The German forces dug in along these hedgerows and were able to turn every field into a fortified kill zone with allied armor unable to maneuver through the obstacles.

Solutions were attempted. Thompson sub-machine guns were procured to suppress the enemies so allied troops could move through the open under more covering fire. Then long poles were welded to the front of tanks to pierce the hedgerows, then back up to allow engineers to place explosives which would crater the hedgerow and allow the tank to move through. The most effective solution was to weld angled pieces of iron to the front of the tank which allowed it to ram through the hedgerows and keep on moving through.

ImprovementTanks proved to be a large opportunity for improvement. Tank commanders would have to expose themselves outside of the tank to observe the enemy and direct accurate fires. During subsequent wars, this resulted in heavy losses for key leaders and a reduction in capabilities. A solution, as the tank was often used in support of dismounted infantry, was to add a field phone to the outside of the tank so that troops on the ground could communicate with the tank without exposing the crew. Additionally, a system of viewing mirrors was added that would allow the crew to button up their hatches but still observe and engage the enemy forces.

Consider the benefits of these simple adaptions. Welded pieces of iron, a field phone with a cord, and a mirror helped to change the way the US fought the war. It meant that strategic assets were capable of being employed in a manner that was both safer, and more effective against the enemy. It removed what would be potentially years of wasted testing in a bubble and utilized tangible elements that were available to the fighting force for immediate experimentation. This is the truest type of organizational improvement.

Improvements can come in nearly any form. Some are administrative, some are functional. The reality is that an organization which is dedicated to seeking improvement will be more apt to encourage and promote people to recommend change, develop systems and solutions, and aid their seniors, peers, and subordinates at all levels to improve their organization.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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1 thought on “Instead of a Leader or a Follower, Be Someone That Makes a Difference

  1. Kyle,

    You have my respect and admiration. The notion of focusing on how and individual can “make a difference” is huge. Those who can add value to the equation will do a great deal for the team, for all. Think of all the ways in which individual soldiers can make a difference that will have positive impact. In a way, this kind of thought leader will often make the difference between success and failure.
    Aside from this, I love your articles. I am a former platoon leader, 1LT, Americal Div, Vietnam and can relate well, even after all these years, to your words. Keep ’em coming.

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