Major Pennington’s Leadership Philosophy
I believe a leader of an organization is responsible for everything that happens in that organization, under his or her watch. With this concept in mind, a few important leadership thoughts guide my actions:
Leaders "own it" from the day they walk into an organization. Regardless of position in the organization, if you lead people, you are responsible for all that comes out of your part of that organization, doubly so if you are the commander. Any negative aspects of the organization are your responsibility to rectify.
Leaders ensure all credit for positive events go to your people. Your people make it happen. Amazing things happen when everyone in the organization, starting with you, are focused on the task or mission and not on who is going to get the credit.
Leaders lead from the front of the organization. Physically, you must get "eyes-on" with the majority of your troops on a regular basis. Leadership by emails, orders from behind the desk or memos from "on-high" accomplish nothing, but create needless space between you and your organization. Set the example in all aspects of your job. Know your "core business" better than anyone else. Get to know your people and their workspaces. Know your place in the "big picture" and be able to explain it to anyone. Understand not only the mission of your unit, but how your people make that mission happen, what tools they use and what systems or other units they depend on to make the mission happen. Know all these things and ensure your people and processes are all geared toward accomplishing the units’ mission. Set clear expectations for everyone’s performance...especially yours!
Leaders are above reproach. All leaders, in order to be effective must earn their organization’s trust. In order to earn trust, you must be perceived as fair, abiding by the rules, and worthy of your position by those you lead. Anything in your behavior, actions, appearance or policies that your subordinates perceive as morally questionable, detracts from your effectiveness and will be detrimental to your organization.
Leaders care. You must truly care about the organization you lead, the people in your organization and your parent organization. Listen to everyone, regardless of rank or experience, realize you are most likely, not the smartest person in the room and acknowledge everyone you meet as you walk around the organization.
Leaders are loyal. Loyalty to your country, service, unit and fellow members is integral to being a productive member of the armed forces. It is the price of admission into our organization and cannot be faked. People are the most important part of your organization...take care of them! Leaders, most importantly, remember their primary role: enabler for their people.
Leaders grow their people. Spend time mentoring when the opportunity arises. Provide feedback or corrective action on the spot, focusing on behavior, not the person. Don’t embarrass your people in public. Provide guidance and direction, otherwise...why are you here? Know where you want to take your organization and tell them! Focus on the most important goals and help people prioritize when necessary. Stay on message. Make sure it's the right message!