Last month, I introduced my leadership styles blog series and this month, I am kicking off the series by sharing my friend’s, Laura Buddemeyer, Major, US Army, thoughts and reflections on her leadership style.
What three words describe your leadership style?
Hands-On: It was important for me to show my subordinates that I knew what they did first hand and that I would expose myself to the same things that I asked of them.
Mentoring: I took my mentoring role seriously especially for junior officers by showing them what right looks like: being confident in front of a group and looking the part of leader.
Taking Advantage of Strengths: Everyone brings something to the table and as a leader, I need to figure out what each person’s strengths are. When you find their strengths, you can make a person feel invaluable which builds their confidence and they are more likely to buy into and support your vision.
What is one of the toughest leadership lessons you learned?
I had just graduated from college and my first role was a platoon leader with 30 subordinates. I was told that I needed to let everyone know that I was in charge and one of my first tasks was to counsel my subordinates and set expectations. At my first meeting, I sat down with my platoon sergeant and began discussing expectations. Instead of going smoothly, the platoon sergeant said, “Ma’ma, I have boots that are older than you.” I was shocked and didn’t know what to do – get angry? cry? I just ignored it and continued on, but learned quickly that what you are taught in school is not how things work in the real world. I had to learn to be less rigid, more flexible and not to take myself so seriously.
After that start, how did you build your second in command’s trust and respect?
I showed him that I was a hard worker – I would go to any lengths to achieve the mission and also, I showed him that I cared about my soldiers. My style has evolved as I saw what was effective and what wasn’t and as I matured as a person.
What is your best leadership advice?
Keep going – don’t let minor setbacks derail you; things don’t go as you envision, but don’t throw in the towel.
Keep the big picture in mind – don’t lose sight of what is important.
As an inexperienced leader, Laura leaned on her strengths – hard work, dedication, and compassion – and was open to learning from her experiences which put her into a position grow and develop into an influential and effective leader. What leadership lessons have you learned that helped you refine your style?