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NEWS | Sept. 27, 2017

The leader and the team

By Senior Master Sgt. Kelly Bradshaw 11th Dental Squadron

It is an expectation, especially in the armed forces.  It is something that comes naturally for some, and not quite so easily for others.  Individuals can show true ability in big projects or simple tasks.  Others may struggle to obtain those same objectives but shine in different areas when given the opportunity.  It does not matter the location, the time or the task.  The expectation is leadership.

So what separates leaders from each other?  What makes one better than another?  The answer is subjective. 

Military members are trained to be leaders at the start of their careers.  It's ingrained into the fabric of our thinking and sometimes expected immediately.  It's up to us to seize the moment and rise to the occasion, or not. As individuals strive to become the best leader they can be, there is a thought that occasionally gets left behind; that strong teamwork is just as important. 

So why is strong teamwork as big a priority as being a strong leader?   The greatest people who succeeded in their quests did not do it alone.  Businessmen have financial backers, actors have film directors, war heroes had their troops, and even revolutionary thinkers such as Albert Einstein have given acknowledgments to the team members who assisted him in his work. 

What is in the power of a team?  Here is one salient quality…to expand the level of thinking that one mind cannot reach.  Combined ideas and energies are synergistic and limitless.  The multiple perspectives and alternatives engendered in a team can bring better solutions to problems.  Teams increase outcomes and accomplish more than individuals as well as increasing the credit, along with the losses, in the quest for success.

Leaders are essential in the military mission, but a leader does not accomplish the mission alone.  It is important to remember that as much as people admire solo achievers, it is a mistake to characterize these individuals as having achieved their successes uniquely on their own.  As leadership guru, John C. Maxwell states, “Individuals play the game, but teams win championships.”