If I Were in Charge for a Day


“Treat others as you want to be treated, lead how you would want to be led, follow how you would want to be followed.”—Colonel Liszewski, 86th Naval Academy Commandant

We often think, “If I were in charge, I’d do it this way.” Let’s take a moment to explore that notion. It is always good to explore those perspectives with an attitude of gratitude and humility. Today, if you were in charge of your department, division, or team, how would you run it?

The hardest part of your job will be dealing with people—recruitment, retention, and training. How would you increase employee engagement and satisfaction? What culture would you create to ensure you attract the right employees? What culture would you enforce to keep those awesome employees? How are you going to reinforce positive behavior and discourage negative behavior?


The mission needs to be clearly defined, articulated, and frequently repeated. Keep it simple, say it often, and live it daily. How will you keep the mission, goals, and daily operations relevant in your department? How will you keep up with the latest trends to stay ahead in your field? How will you tap into the innovation of the team to draw fresh and creative ideas? How will you balance running business as usual versus exploring the unknown and taking new risks?

You can only lead others to the extent in which you lead yourself. Self-care, self-awareness, and self-improvement are expected from leaders. How will you demonstrate to your employees an appropriate work-life balance? How seriously will you face your own imperfections and acknowledge them when necessary? What importance will you place on knowing how your personality encourages and inhibits your division’s productivity? What actions will you take to continuously seek self-improvement?

Leading is hard work and our leadership needs grace. Let us do our part in helping others succeed. It is my hope these questions trigger an appreciation for only a few of the responsibilities your managers and supervisors. It is also my hope that you will take some of the answers you come up with and apply them now, regardless of your title or position.

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