Welcome back to our #MeetTheTeam series! This week, we’re chatting with Reginald Hairston, RBLP-T!
Hi Reggie! Thanks for chatting with us. Tell us a little about who you are and where you’re from.
Hello, I am the proud husband to the woman of my dreams, Tracey Hairston, and proud father of three adult children and one granddaughter. I was born and raised in the small town of Martinsville, VA. Most folks who know of Martinsville know of the NASCAR Speedway or know it from the days when Dupont and Bassett Walker were major employers.
What can you tell us about your education and career background before you started working with RBLP?
I graduated from James Madison University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. In March 1989, I enlisted in the Marine Corps and was trained at Parris Island, South Carolina. In 1991, I was accepted to and completed training at the Officer Candidate School which is located in Quantico, VA. My initial goal was to complete four years as an officer, gain some leadership experience and then enter the corporate job market. However, I quickly realized that I loved being in the Marine Corps and I especially loved the opportunity to meet and learn from people from all over the world. My primary skillset/job in the Marine Corps was in the area of Manpower/Administration, but through the course of a 30 year career, I was blessed to be afforded opportunities such as earning a Masters Degree in Management from the Naval Postgraduate School and to lead organizations like Security and Emergency Services Battalion (SESBn), Camp Pendleton. SESBn provides law enforcement and security, fire protection, emergency medical response and temporary detention in support to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in order to protect life and property, promote quality of life and preserve good order and discipline. My time at SESBn reinforced my belief that as a leader, you don’t need to be the technical expert, if you are versed at building highly trained, cohesive and resilient teams. A testament to this is evidenced in the fact the fire department earned the distinction of being the best large department in the Department of Defense in 2016. Earning the distinction had everything to do with the firefighters excelling at their craft and me having enough sense not to get in the way (lol).
Who is a role model that you’ve interacted with in your life that inspired you toward this career trajectory?
My role model was my grandfather. I can’t say that he inspired me to join the Marine Corps. In fact, he said he was surprised that I had joined, “That rough group boys!” However, his continued emphasis on the need to try your best, treat people with respect and to never quit, absolutely set the early foundations for how I have approached every challenge and how I treat others.
What drew you to the role that you’re fulfilling with RBLP as a certification instructor?
In all honesty, I happened upon RBLP by chance. I retired from the Marine on 1 October 2019 and openly communicated my desire to be a position where I can help teach young leaders how to lead. After one such post on LinkedIn, someone responded, “You should connect to Jason Politte and learn about the leadership program he is involved with.” After contacting Jason, it was immediately apparent that the tenets of RBLP matched my passion. In a sense, I feel that what I’m doing is helping leaders learn how to think forward, by taking the time to reflect back. What I mean by this is simple. All of us wish we could have dealt with a person or situation better and the individuals who really care about how their actions impact others will work to do better in the future. The problem lies in the fact that the change is a result of a reaction vice pro-action. In the early stages of leadership development, reaction dominates how we deal with challenging situations. We do something, it didn’t work, or didn’t work as well and we would like, so we make a change (reaction). There comes a point, whether it’s through an accumulation of life experience or through the benefit of learning from someone else’s experiences; i.e., coaches, teachers, etc. that we consciously try to shift to a proactive posture. By this I mean we should actively consider the potential consequences of our actions prior to taking action. Proactive leaders measure what they say and do because of the real awareness that every action impacts the overall resilience of their respective teams in either a negative or positive way. My goal is to help others do what it took me too long to start doing and that is to shift to a proactive stance and fully embrace terms such as “Earn Trust,” “Develop Cohesion,” as more than catchy buzzwords, but rather as concepts that should be internalized and second nature to the healthy development of individuals and teams.
In your mind, what is the best definition of “resilience” for those who might be unfamiliar with the program that RBLP offers?
Resilience is the ability to overcome challenges and bounce back even stronger. Failure is inevitable, quitting is a choice. When you learn to eliminate quitting as an option, whether as a team or as an individual, the consequence is you or your teams become more resilient. As stated, failure is inevitable, but resilient individuals and teams are able to regroup, refocus and press forward until success is achieved.
What are the three most important components, in your opinion, that you try to convey to every team that you train under the RBLP certification program?
Authenticity is at the top of the list. The absence of or perceived absence of authenticity in a leader guarantees that a team will not reach its full potential. Bottomline – you can’t fake your way through, but when you are authentic and open, it forms the foundation for earning the trust of your people which in turn enables you to start the process of building resilient teams.
Understand that leadership is about people, not about things. When you do so, it becomes easier to understand your effect on the overall success of creating a highly functioning team. I like to say, “Sometimes we need to get out of our own way.” This means we need to fight the urge to always be in charge and right and enable team members to excel. When teams start excelling together, it becomes infectious.
Don’t try to just regurgitate what’s written in the lessons, but rather take time to personalize the lessons in way that real learning takes place. For me, I am always encouraged when a student says, “I see that I need to do better in this area.”
What is one of your own best personal experiences in your career that has influenced or inspired you in your certification training?
More than 28 years ago, I found myself in a situation where a Marine Corps Gunnery
Sergeant and I were headed for a confrontation. To say I was a little concerned was an understatement. My concern lay in the fact that I, a Second Lieutenant for less than a year, found myself in a situation where I needed to influence the Gunnery Sergeant to comply with the instructions he had been given. For those of you who have never served in the military, just picture a brand-new inexperienced supervisor confronting a seasoned employee. When I looked at the Gunnery Sergeant, I saw a man who had been serving in the Marine Corps back when I was still in elementary. Couple this with the societal images of a hard-core Marine and you may start to get a picture of why I was concerned. Bottom-line, if he refused to do what I told him, then what? S tuck in this conundrum, I approached my Colonel (Chief Operating Officer), told him the situation, and asked him if I should yell at the Gunnery Sergeant or simply have a conversation? The answer the Colonel gave was simple and formed the foundation for how I have dealt with people ever since. The Colonel told me to be myself!
Specifically, he said, “Be yourself and not what you think the Gunnery Sergeant expects you to be. If you are not a yeller, don’t yell because it will come across as phony and the Gunnery Sergeant will not respect you.” Well, I had the conservation with the Gunnery Sergeant, and I’m proud to say that I did not raise my voice. Unfortunately for the Gunnery Sergeant, he raised his voice and promptly got called into the Colonel’s office for a good old-fashioned butt chewing. Although, the Colonel essentially solved my first problem, his advice was instrumental to shaping my approach for dealing with individuals from that point on.
In your time as an RBLP instructor, what is one of your best memories of a training program that you’ve accomplished with a company and why?
I haven’t been an instructor for very long, but it an amazing feeling to talk to a student and watch them become excited about what we are discussing. In fact, what I’ve seen is students have a sense for what they feel should is right and the program helps validate those feelings. The best comment so far is, “I need to become more actively engaged in the overall development of my team. “
Pivoting a little bit from the program – tell us a little about yourself outside of work! What other activities or hobbies do you love?
Although I’m not very good at either, I enjoy fishing and playing the bass guitar. I also enjoy volunteering to help veterans and to that end, I’ve become a Commissioner on the Mayor of Commission of Veteran’s Affairs and volunteer at the USO.
Can you give us a quotation that you feel really inspires you to continue inspiring others?
No one cares how much you know until they know how much your care ~ President Theodore Roosevelt
RBLP leadership certifications are about Building Resilient Teams™ that overcome adversity and then can adapt and grow together! As always, we are #StrongerTogether.
Learn more about the requirements for the RBLP Certification program.