Leadership: A choice, not a title

First, I’d like to apologize for my long hiatus; into my last semester of my MBA and starting a wonderful new job has captured my attention into those endeavors instead of purposely writing about my thoughts on personal and professional development. However, even though I am still 3 weeks away from completing my MBA and I’m at the zenith of both my class and job workload my recent Thanksgiving adventures has me itching to share my thoughts on leadership.

Though this blog is mostly on the opinion on where American manufacturing needs to go, I cover much broader topics, like leadership methods, because (in my view) there is a lot left to be desired in such an exciting, yet faltering industry. Most of my career has remained in the manufacturing or distribution fields, so whenever I do have the opportunity to see other industries I am dazzled by all the opportunities and nuances to learn about with the goal to apply concepts from this new area into ones I am more familiar with. Just yesterday, I had the fortunate opportunity to visit the San Diego naval base while I was visiting my old roommate from undergrad; we’ll call her the Ma’aminator for giggles.

Ma’aminator gave me the honor of showing me the vessel that she worked on and, man, was it an engineer’s playground! All the logistics to keep 400+ people alive, working, and stable for months at a time while out at sea, where our species cannot hope to survive. My mind was buzzing while trying to keep up with her as she walked through the ship’s interior gracefully and describing the necessary, impressive features of both the ship as well as the crew’s culture, mindset, and purpose. I felt silly and gangly with all the “stupid” questions I was asking due to my inability to keep up with all the new information as well as walk through the ramparts without tripping.

Despite Ma’aminator’s distinct ability to acquire and master new skills with apparent ease is her ability to care and know each one of the individuals on her ship. Though she doesn’t have the highest ranking upon the ship, she was a pleasure to watch when acknowledging each of her fellow crewmates while she was in civilian clothes crossing the divide between duty and humanity. She addressed every sailor we passed by their name, asked them how they were doing, and wished them a simple, but thoughful, “Happy Thanksgiving,” (sadly still stuck in my awe of the ship right after getting off the plane, I failed to even greet them). This is where I saw a commonality between her militant life and my professional mindset: leadership being a choice, not a rank. 

Crossing the divide between duty and humanity

From the stories she told me of her career so far in the Navy and seeing her interactions on the ship, I was revived to sense a kindred spirit much like when we were both back at Georgia Tech. To have taken so very different paths both in education and career, yet see a common approach was refreshing. Needless to say, I saw she had accomplished much more in regards to showing leadership that I still have to aspire to with her easy going, yet dutiful nature towards her job and crew. Similar to Simon Sinek’s talk on why good leaders make you feel good, you don’t have to wait for a title in order to make a difference. You can make the choice while at the bottom of the totem pole to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, just like how Ma’aminator was able to do.

Please let me know about someone who has been able to a make a difference in their surroundings without being a distinctly prominent role on my Twitter account: @KaitCook18. Thank you, again, dear friend for having me over for Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays to everyone!

One comment

  1. […] making a response in communicating. Her feedback, though may be skewed, allowed me to re-position my leadership stance to be better not only for myself, but for my team: above and […]


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