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Leadership Steps to Camaraderie

Posted on November 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Barbara Buckner

 I recently read an article written by Col Lee Ellis, USAF (ret) and Vietnam POW on the topic of camaraderie and wanted to share part of it:

(You can read his full article here:
"Leadership Steps to Camaraderie
Here are some important steps to help a leader build camaraderie:
1) Clarify the culture and set the climate
Alignment built around mission, vision and values is crucial, as is your commitment to be both leader and member of the team
2) Create opportunities and expectations for people to build bonds
Social time outside of work is clearly the best way to get to know each other
3) Connect with each person
Regardless of whether the leader is an introvert or an extrovert, he or she has to engage by connecting with each person making them feel important and welcome. This doesn't mean that the leader has to be the life of the party. Typically I find more leaders that are introverts than extroverts, but the good ones look to the outgoing, social folks to provide the fun and energy that becomes contagious to the group."
The steps that Col Ellis lists should become second-nature to anyone in a command position.  Yes, we have regulations and paperwork to process – but let’s never forget that the reason why we have all that is because of the people in our Units.    
1) Setting the Climate
Each Unit will have its own “personality” when it comes to carrying out CAP’s missions and that’s okay – it is expected depending on the make up of the Unit and activities that it primarily participates in.  However, we are still one CAP and, as the leader, you set the tone for your Unit being a part of that bigger picture.  What does that mean?  When you are frustrated with certain aspects of your role or others may be complaining about certain aspects (i.e. paperwork we have to fill out), you need to remember that you are setting the example and need to keep it positive.  Your Unit members are looking to you to direction or to help solve their problems.  When we (naturally) start agreeing with them and join in on the conversation, they begin to look at you less as a leader and more of just a colleague.
2) Create Opportunities and Expectations
Our members want to know how they can fit in…and that starts with getting to know each other in the Unit as a person and not just a position.  Does that mean you have to socialize with each other outside of the Unit? No – but hold some sort of event with your Unit, either off-site or during a meeting, where the rank comes off and people have the opportunity to just talk and interact.  As they develop bonds with each other, a “teamwork” mentality begins to take shape.
3) Connect with Each Person
Most companies will state that they have an “open door policy” with their employees.  What that means is that management makes themselves accessible to their employees so that employees feel more comfortable sharing ideas and complaints…both we need to monitor progress and encourage change.
In CAP, chain of command is important – and for normal interactions should be followed by all members regardless of whether or not you are “friends” with the commander – but Commanders need to also create the type of environment that your members feel comfortable coming to meetings because you’ve let them know that their success in the program is a team effort between you and them.   When they know, and believe, that you are as much invested in their progress as we expect them to be, they are more likely to take the initiative to take on positions or get the training that they need…and want to be part of the “team.”  
Lt Col Douglas Jessmer shared his thoughts on these steps that I felt stated it perfectly:
”Leadership is not a science, but an art, and a good leader knows his people and what motivates them individually.”
Maj Barb Buckner, CAP
Recruiting & Retention Manager
Civil Air Patrol - National Headquarters


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