At the start of the year, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft shared his reading list on All Hands. As part of a continued discussion on leadership, the Commandant has invited members from across the fleet to review the selections and share insights on how they are applying what they’ve read to mission execution. This is the fourth blog in the series and was authored by Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Florisi, an aviation survival technician at Air Station Elizabeth City and recipient of the McShan’s Active Duty Inspirational Leadership Award.
When I was invited to review a book from the Commandant’s reading list, The Truth About Employee Engagement instantly caught my attention. After I pinned on Chief three years ago, a goal of mine was to foster a working environment where everyone was engaged and enjoyed coming to work. The title and description of the book felt aligned with my leadership goals.
Assuming the role as a Chief was a significant leadership step and I routinely reflected on my prior experiences searching for the traits of a good leader and Chief. As leaders, we always need to introspectively examine our leadership styles and traits. I found one common theme: when shipmates positively impacted each other’s lives, both members walked away feeling valued and engaged.
Prior to reading this book, my general leadership philosophy was to treat people how I was treated during the most fulfilling times of my career. The Truth About Employee Engagement articulated and refined what I believe are solid leadership traits of successful leaders. The book’s author, Patrick Lencioni, tells the story of a CEO who believes he’s figured out the formula for success, or inversely, the three things that make people hate their job. Anonymity, irrelevance and “immeasurement” are what he deemed as the key components to whether someone appreciates or despises coming to work. The author defines each feeling and provides real-life examples of effective and ineffective leadership related to those measures.
I began my military career as a Marine at age 17, joined the Coast Guard when I was 23 and utilized a temporary separation to go to college at 31 years old. Throughout these diverse experiences, my time spent as a Coast Guardsman has been the most rewarding portion of my professional career, and I truly believe it’s because Coasties are good at taking care of their shipmates.
I recommend everybody in the Coast Guard, no matter the rank, read The Truth About Employee Engagement to help hone their leadership philosophies. Being an inspirational leader doesn’t always mean you let your folks go early on Friday or give them extended lunches. It is more often a culture that you instill in your team, giving them a purpose to accomplish the mission and the realization that their contribution is valued.