When the topic of legacies arises, who comes to mind? For many, it is a former president, commander, etc. There is often very little talk about those who have the most impact in another’s life, the people who impact others on a one-on-one basis.
In many families there is a lineage of veterans leading from WWII or Vietnam to today. These proud vets may have impacted hundreds or even thousands of people without even realizing it. Their words may have left a lasting legacy in the hearts and minds of those whom were touched. Pericles, the ancient Athenian general, said, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
There are thousands of Airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines serving today who started off on a rocky path, but managed to turn it all around. When asked, ‘why?’ The answer is always the same, “My supervisor pulled me aside and put me on the right path.” “If it weren’t for him/her I would be out on the street, in prison or even dead.”
Former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, David J. Campanale credited his supervisors at his first base for, “turning his attitude around.” These lower level supervisors saw his potential, took him under their wing and steered him onto the right path. He later rose to the highest enlisted rank in the Air Force. What if no one had cared?
At this point there is very little question that anyone can have a lasting impact on others if they are simply willing to invest their time. What must be gained in order to leave a legacy woven into the lives of others? The most important thing is respect. Earn the respect of another and their heart will follow. It is earned by first respecting him or her and then by setting the right example. According to a psychological study done by Elizabeth Brondolo, the number one quality desired by subordinates is the support and to know that “…their supervisors care about them.”
Caring enough to be truly honest with another is a quality many don’t have. Many supervisors only care about making people happy or getting the mission accomplished. They are counting on the respect afforded to them through rank and position of authority not on “earned” respect. There are leaders people want to follow and there are leaders that force others to follow. General Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Respect is the easiest thing for a leader to earn; you simply have to be respectful.
When you truly respect someone and project that respect, they will follow suit. By showing you respect their time and do your best to get them out of the work center so they can make a family dinner. Encouraging them to make their child’s first day of school. Rolling up your sleeves and joining the team when short-handed. All the other things you would respect from your boss is what you need to do in order to earn their respect. Even those who do not like you personally can respect you and can find a way to work with someone they respect.