Being in a challenging environment really puts individuals to the test as well as their teams. Throughout my experience in the military, I am constantly asked what can make a team better and what supervisors can do to enable everyone to feel part of a team instead of showing up because they have to be there.
Immanuel Johnson | Guest Contributor
The reason everyone raised their right hand to either enlist or commission in the military will vary depending on who you ask. There is no question that many of us service members find commonalities among us that bring us closer together which in turn, establishes a tight-knit bond and meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime. For me, when I joined the Marine Corps, I was looking for a challenge – to be a part of something greater than myself, and some tangible experience to better myself and the units that I am a part of.
I have worked with professionals from different jobs and different ranks, and there are a few things I have noticed with the individuals and teams that were successful and those that had room for improvement. Your team members at some point or another will come to a crossroads from their personal or professional lives, and they will be put to the test as to how they handle it. If they are not seeking you out, chances are you probably need to take a hard look in the mirror and adjust the way you lead and mentor. As a supervisor, you should be on the lookout and taking care of those under you before handling anything else – it is one of those rules that comes with the rank and one that I take great pride in carrying out.
Being inclusive and soliciting the input and feedback of all members is extremely important to me. I think Nelson Mandela said it best about how committed he was to improving the lives of South Africans and ultimately ending apartheid: “I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestation. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now and will do so until the end of my days.” You team members and supervisors will come from different backgrounds and have a unique story – accept it and embrace it for the greater good of cohesion and building those strong, resilient teams!
I first heard about the Resilience Building Leader Program on LinkedIn and saw many people posting about the great experiences they had with it. I naturally looked into it and applied to learn more about the program; fast forward to about three months later, I was accepted into the Resilience-Building Leadership Professional Coach (RBLP-C) program and attained my certification. What I have found since becoming certified as a middle manager is that I can influence my team in many ways, with a goal showing those that I work with and work for that everyone plays a vital role in the pragmatic picture of the mission. Here are just a few of my key learnings:
Earning Trust: Any individual that joins a team – no matter how much or how little time they have served – need to earn trust. This was one of the tasks that really made an impact on me from the RBLP curriculum. A big reason this is vital to building resilient teams and how it contributes to a positive team climate is that team members and supervisors at all levels need to be able to trust those they work with. At Stars and Stripes, there is a big emphasis on trust at every level, and in order to effectively do my job at interviewing people and crafting my story, it is a vital aspect of the environment every single day. Leaders can do this by being authentic and showing a human side in a sense of being vulnerable, which could mean sharing a personal experience and bringing the team in together. If there is no trust, it can be detrimental to progress and take away from more than just the mission.
Encourage Individual Learning: I am in a unique role as a service member that works for Stars and Stripes that allows me to tell a service member’s story, including family members and veterans alike. In order to be at my best doing so, the team I am apart of is constantly encouraged “to learn new skills and support personal growth,” according to the RBLP program. Recognition is a big part of the Stripes family; when one of our members is recognized, the entire team is made aware of it and for those individuals receiving positive feedback from the group as a whole can do wonders in expanding that intellectual curiosity across the workplace.
Keep The Team Informed: No team will be successful if communication is broken. I have been a part of a unit where this was severely lacking, and it showed from the top-down and vice versa. Just because we all worked in the same office did not mean that every team member and supervisor was informed of what was going on and what needed to get done. By having an open line of communication, it allows the teams to be empowered to make decisions and provides a good standard of transparency, as the RBLP curriculum puts it. Yes, it will take some extra time on occasion to inform all team members; however, it will bring everyone together and make them feel part of something they signed up for, not the other way around.
I would encourage those in any job field that want to take their team to the next level and encourage different ideas to solve complex solutions to look into the RBLP program. What makes RBLP special in my opinion is the material in the certification but also the way it was facilitated through the coach I worked with. When I went through the RBLP-C certification, it opened my eyes to a variety of different avenues that I had not initially considered before I went through this program. It does not matter what field you are in, the concepts remain the same and this certification can help bring out the ideas and confidence that employees at all levels have to make their job that much better.
Immanuel Johnson is an active-duty Marine who is currently a News Reporter for Stars and Stripes Europe, an American military newspaper that covers matters concerning the members of the United States Armed Forces and their communities. Immanuel is currently pursuing an Executive Certificate in Communications from Liberty University, looking to attain a PhD in Communications afterwards. He spends his time volunteering with Warrior Scholar Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping enlisted veterans and transitioning service members to succeed in higher education.
RBLP leadership certifications are about Building Resilient Teams™ that overcome adversity and then can adapt and grow together!