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As of this writing I have been retired from the Army Reserve for just over 2 years now. As I look back over my 30-year career, it’s often surprising what shows up in my recollections. For example, as an 18-year-old I had no idea at the time that I was being taught lessons that would stick with me for the rest of my life. One of the “mantras” that I recall was “Be-KnowDo,” and it is something that I still see every day.

The Amiy defines leadership as, “the act of influencing people — by purpose, direction, and motivation — while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.” In life there are leaders and followers in all sorts of scenarios such as the workplace, our home life, and even among our friends. We can be on either side of the leadership coin depending on the situation. Whether we admit it or not, we are influenced by someone to get us to do something all the time. Telling someone what to do is one thing, but setting the example is quite another. Our words and actions must be chosen wisely because someone is always watching and listening to either our positive or negative influence. In other words, “Lead by example.”

The “Be” part of “BeKnow-Do” starts and ends with the leader’s charucter. We see a leader’s character through their behavior. Doing what is right, and not necessarily what is easy can be particularly challenging, but good leaders make those hard choices and drive on; constantly setting the example. The best leaders lead flow the flout. However, I have worked for some superiors over the years who had serious issues in this department and the best I could do was to learn what NOT to do once I got in a similar position.

A leader must have a certain level of knowledge to be competent. This is the “Knowing” part of leadership and I am sad to say that there are entirely too many people today in leadership positions who simply do not know enough or do not possess the right skills to execute their office, position, or job title successfully. Leaders need to have people skills — first and foremost in my opinion. If you cannot communicate, you cannot lead. Besides knowing what to say and how to say it, a leader needs to be extraordinarily proficient in their technical skills. They must know everything about everything, sometimes even knowing what to do when they don’t know what to do.

The ‘Doing” part of all this centers on decision-making, but concepts such as personal communication and influencing others often blend in. Prioritizing tasks also comes into play which goes along with figuring out how to get the job done right with what you have to work with. Also, leaders without vision will take their organization nowhere. Most of us want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, to do something important and meaningful with our lives. This is where the good leader can step in to help make this happen.

A lot of this may sound difficult or challenging and that’s because it is. Being a good leader is not easy, but it is necessary in the pursuit of excellence. When you invest in your people you will always reap great dividends.

Alan Shoabnire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week