Leading into Action
By Chad Lasdon
In mid-January 2020, our LEAD (Leadership Empowerment and Development) cohort assembled in Palm Beach, Florida. It would be the first of four educational trips we would take as a group. Each trip is intended to provide an opportunity to learn, network, collaborate, and team-build with members of the LEAD class as well as university and community leaders.
Learning about leadership is a central theme of the LEAD program and for me, it is a personal passion. I always enjoy the opportunity to interact with and hear leadership stories from other people. During the LEAD weekend in Florida, we were treated to a leadership discussion called The Secret to Being an Effective Leader by Admiral James Stavridis. A Naval leader, Admiral Stavridis has had a storied military career. Prior to his discussion, I was taken back and humbled reading Admiral Stavridis’ leadership pedigree which includes roles as NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe, 15th Commander of the U.S. European Command, Head of Southern Command, and Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Admiral Stavridis’ discussion did not disappoint. His presence, message of service, and comprehensive knowledge about world affairs inspired me to think about ways I can be a more effective leader.
After Admiral Stavridis’ discussion and conclusion of that January day, I went back to my hotel. I wasn’t eager to rest, rather I was excited to delve into his new book called Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character. Similar to a student that just had an eye opening first lecture from a professor, I was fascinated and excited to continue the quest of learning more about leadership through Admiral Stavridis’ lens. I was fascinated and found myself reflecting on ways I could pay forward his lessons of leadership.
It is remarkable how a single person’s enthusiasm for leadership can make an impression on others. Upon returning home, I purchased three copies of Admiral Stavridis’ book for colleagues that have taken the time to help make me a better leader. Each of these colleagues have served as mentors and I felt sharing Admiral Stavridis’ teachings would be a great way to say thank you. We often discuss leadership and I felt the lessons in Admiral Stavridis’ book would continue to advance our dialogue further. I gave out the books to each colleague with a message to enjoy the read and be inspired.