By Ted Studdard, Divisional Staffing Manager at The Home Depot
Many leaders spend years perfecting their ability to write and speak, yet they miss the most obvious and most important manner of communication—leadership by example.
Over a period of 30 years in the U. S. Marine Corps and in Corporate America, I have had the good fortune to serve on some exceptional teams in some exceptional organizations. Of course, any team that achieves great success has a superb leader at the helm. The leaders I observed and served with over the years spanned every personality type and employed all manner of leadership techniques imaginable.
Ted Studdard will co-facilitate a 90-minute breakout session at the 2019 National Summit on Strategic Communications on Friday, April 26, at American University in Washington, D.C. Through a combination of presentations, interactive discussions and case examples, Ted will explore the essence of effective leadership and provide new insights into your capabilities as a leader. For a complete agenda and registration visit www.strategicsummit.com.
Despite all the different personalities and the unique approaches to leadership, there was one commonality that linked them all. They were all strong communicators who could connect with diverse audiences at every level and convey tangible information in a succinct, easy to understand manner.
Typically, when we discuss forms of communication, we think of the written word via books, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or some other social media platform; or we think of the spoken word via television, YouTube, radio, a speech or a public address.
However, we rarely remember what we read or hear, but actions speak loudly and quite often communicate far more than words ever will.
- I learned the value of a senior leader being present through the example of my Commanding General who, regardless of the circumstances, would always make time to be part of our combat training.
- I learned the value of preparing subordinates for the next level of leadership through the example of my senior tactics instructor who always had a leadership lesson to share to help prepare us for higher-level command.
- I learned the value of peer mentorship through the example of my corporate business partners who went out of their way to teach me, the new member of the team, a daily lesson about retail operations.
These are just a few of the many lessons that have been communicated to me through the daily example of good leaders. While I do not recall the specifics of each conversation, the lesson communicated was one of great leaders going above and beyond to invest in people. I have a library full of leadership books; I have years of formal post graduate education centered on leadership; I have listened to countless talks and lectures on the topic of leadership, but what truly stands out, the form of communication that really drove the lessons home, was the example my leaders set.
Moreover, it was the daily or routine examples of leadership that communicated the most valuable lessons, not some grandiose display, but the leadership examples that occur in the course of everyday life. As leaders, we communicate far more often than we realize. We are all very conscious of what we write; we are all very conscious of what we say, but we sometimes forget that as a leader all eyes are on us. Our everyday actions at the grocery store, at the restaurant, at the ball game, at work late on a Tuesday afternoon often communicate far louder and far clearer than anything we will ever say or write.
I look forward to talking with you on April 25th and 26th at the 2019 National Strategic Communication Summit.
Ted Studdard is Divisional Staffing Manager at The Home Depot. Previously, he was a senior officer who served in the Pentagon leading strategic level teams focused on Operation Enduring Freedom. In Afghanistan, he was responsible for the planning and execution of combat operations for a 20,000-person multi-national force. Ted currently is working on a book titled ‘Depot to Depot,’ which follows his transition from a Marine recruit to The Home Depot and examines the transformation a senior military leader must make when transitioning into Corporate America.