He is not the most popular. She is not the most recognized. He is not the handsomest. She’s not in the limelight. However, each is invaluable. Who are these people? What sets them apart? They’re the servant-leaders. They are the overlooked catalysts of success and mission accomplishment.
Recently the military unit of which I’m a part trained at Ft. Stewart for a few days. Our mission? Individual weapons qualification (IWQ). We spent several days and nights on ranges practicing marksmanship skills. I love anything to do with guns and ammo, so I relished the training with my fellow soldiers.
As with any skill set, soldiers vary in their levels of proficiency. Some infantry soldiers zeroed their weapons with just 6-9 rounds, then moved down to the qualification range. There they qualified as marksmen, sharpshooters, or experts.
However, some soldiers floundered. And that’s when I witnessed the emergence of the servant-leaders. A divide occurred. A handful of soldiers struggled with fundamentals of marksmanship: sight picture alignment, breathing, trigger squeeze, etc. Some soldiers scoffed at the struggles of their fellow soldiers, as ways of congratulating themselves. Yet other soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers, took a different approach. Rather than accentuating the struggles of their fellow soldiers, they mentored them. They served them in order that they (the struggling shooters) would learn and improve.
The servant-leaders got down in the dirt with the soldiers who were struggling. In the prone position, they talked them through the fundamentals of effective marksmanship. For most soldiers, their shooting improved. Nearly all qualified.
At the end of the days of training, these servant-leaders did not receive accolades. They garnered no public praise. Yet the fighting force of soldiers is now stronger. Why? It’s due in large measure to these overlooked catalysts of success and mission accomplishment. Who are the ones to watch? It’s often those men and women who speak softly but serve valiantly, the servant-leaders.