Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Some Encouraging Leadership from a Marine

ARCHIVES
Denis Poroy/AP

As the scandal around former CIA director General David Petraeus unfolds, it’s hard to find anyone who has covered themselves in glory. It’s all pretty discouraging.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post on how leaders need to have a strategy to deal with the temptations they’ll undoubtedly encounter. It says everything I would have to say about the Petraeus story. A retired general once told me that there’s an old Army maxim that the further up the flag pole you go, the more your rear end shows. It’s sad and frustrating to see that play out in the news this week.

In case you can’t tell, I’m kind of bummed out by all of this. As I was thinking about it last night, I recalled a conversation I had last weekend on a cross country flight. My seatmate turned out to be a 16 year U.S. Marine named Hector. He was a great guy and we talked off and on as we travelled from DC to LA. In the interest of offering an encouraging story from a quiet leader who’s making a difference, here’s his story.

Hector grew up in Queens and joined the Marines when he was 17. That would make him around 33 years old now. He was on his way home to Arizona from his sixth tour in Afghanistan. He was in in his 32nd hour of travel when we talked having left Kabul on C-130 to Bahrain. He went from there to Germany to Dulles Airport in DC. When we landed he was going to have a brief layover in LAX and arrive at home in Arizona around the middle of the afternoon. Hector’s family knew he was coming home in November but he was going to surprise them by getting there a few days earlier than they expected.

Hector loves the Marines but he and his family are tired of the time away from each other so he plans to retire when he reaches the 20 year mark. It sounds like he’ll be ready for it because he’s just about to finish his MBA. Earlier in his career, the Marines put him through college. They also helped his wife with her education and she’s now an assistant principal at a school in Arizona. They have a boy who’s 13 and an 11 year old daughter. Hector has been able to stay in close touch with them by email and Skype during his deployments.

There was so much that struck me in my conversation with Hector – how much he’s accomplished, the life he’s built with his wife, his gratitude to the Marines, the impact he’s had on others how quietly proud he is of his service. I felt great just talking to him and really grateful that there are people like him.

Instead of getting bummed by the failures of leaders who knock themselves off their pedestals, I’m going to focus on leaders like Hector who never get put on a pedestal in the first place. I said it to you when we said good bye, Hector, but I’ll say it again. Thanks for your service and for the example you set.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.