Leadership Basics: Be the Expert

This is the fifth and final article in a series by Judy Navarrete, SPHR, Human Resources Manager at SK Textile, Inc.  Navarrete contacted me at Military Resumes to express her interest in sharing her vast human resources and operations management experience and insight into the business world with military job seekers.  Her observations are food for thought as you reflect on your own military experience and how it applies to the business world in preparing your military resume or for an interview.

Read the first article in the series.

Read the second article in the series.

Read the third article in the series.

Read the fourth article in the series.

Be the Expert

What does being an expert have to do with leadership?  Think about it, and the answer becomes apparent.  Why would anyone follow a leader unless they found some value in doing so?  Most people follow a leader because he or she is an expert, or a champion in his or her field.  An expert is defined as a person with knowledge specific to a field of work.  An expert is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation in a particular area of study.  Not just anyone who practices fervently will become an expert.  Marie-Line Germain found 16 behavioral dimensions found in experts.  Some of these traits include: knowledge that is specific to his or her field of work, the ability to assess a work related situation’s importance, the capacity for self improvement, deduction, drive, and self confidence.  These behavioral traits are consistently held by all experts, whether he or she is an expert marksman, musician, lawyer, or business leader.

I have witnessed leaders and managers from various organizations successfully transition into new roles with minimal difficulty.  Not because management and leadership is the same everywhere, but because these leaders were able to adapt to new environments.  They were able to pull from past experiences and use their behavioral dimensions to gain new expertise.  Many military and former military leaders also hold these behavioral traits.

Individuals transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce will find that businesses can benefit from the military’s method of creating experts.  The Marines Corps’ method of developing leaders and experts begins with boot camp, is followed by real-world experience, and further refined by guidance from tenured Marines.  During training, Marines are tested and, in some cases, qualification is required.  In contrast, civilian businesses tend to train by informing employees and opt out of testing at the end of training sessions.  I suppose we, as business leaders, refrain from testing and qualification requirements for fear of being sued or having our employment practices challenged.  It could be that our training and testing methods are not as developed as the military’s.  So the aforementioned behavioral traits, as well as skills in team cohesion, encouragement and coaching techniques, organization, and discipline, can provide transitioning military-experienced job seekers a firm foundation for civilian leadership roles. 

However, military leaders contemplating a career change may examine where their expertise truly lies.  Some may realize that their desire and passion is to continue to hone their military expertise and nurture those serving our country.  A career in the military is a fine choice as it reinforces strengths and this country needs expert marksmen, staff sergeants, trainers, and other military professionals.  The decision to stay in the service is a difficult one, since many military careers place strain on families.  But realize there are also civilian professions that cause equal strain on family time.  Lawyers, doctors, salespersons, entertainers, etc. all have extreme demands made on their time.  These challenges compromise their family ties and require much dedication and discipline to their trade.  Military careers are not alone in this.  Therefore, in choosing a profession, one needs to look inward and determine which career is best for them and whether or not they are willing to make the sacrifices required to become an expert in their field… even if it means leaving others behind.

Judy Navarrete, SPHR, the author of this series, Leadership Basics, is a Human Resources Manager.  She has over 14 years experience in strategic management.  As such, she has extensive experience in understanding the needs of managers and businesses with respect to staffing and leadership performance.  She has worked in the private sector and union and non-union environments, both for profit companies and not-for-profit organizations.  Her understanding of military training and leadership comes from her conversations and interaction with a Staff Sergeant of the US Marine Corps.  This is the last article in the series of her contributions to MilitarytoCivilian.com.  This Staff Sergeant will deploy soon, with his team of Marines.  Once his tour is completed, he will most likely re-enlist.