Leadership 101: The Boot Camp Basics

What is leadership?

The answer to this question became clear when I entered the Army as private on a hot sunny day in Fort Jackson, SC June 1978. Immediately the drill sergeant informed me of my new tile— squad leader. Okay, now what? I thought.  There were 8 confused, scared women in my squad; they didn’t know me, I didn’t know them.

So what did I learn in boot camp that has sustained me through the many places I’ve been since then?

Here are 3 lessons I learned at Fort Jackson that are relevant and timeless.


1)      Use your natural talents

Having grown up as the oldest child in a single parent family taught me a few things about responsibility and accountability.  I built on that.  Many of us have experience we can bring into our leadership situations.

2)      Get a buddy

I shared my concerns with fellow squad leaders.  We taught each other.  In the workplace it’s important to network with colleagues to do the same.


      3)  Identify your target then BRAS, (Begin Releasing A Strategy)

During the weapons portion of boot camp, the drill sergeant gave me that formula as a way to focus on hitting the mark. I knew that I wanted to get my squad and myself through boot camp safe and trained – to graduate!  Through conversations with and observations of my squad’s members I was able to address their concerns and refer them to other resources. What are your goals in your situations?  Who or where can you send others for information when you don’t have it? Leaders don’t have to know everything but it is essential to be resourceful and share knowledge with others.


Mission accomplished.  I finished boot camp and felt ready for the next thing in my army training program.

Leadership can be a very rewarding and exciting experience.  We learn to handle our professional and personal concerns and help others in turn.  We come to establish a personal power base of internal and external resources.  Many of the workplace and life’s problems are best addressed at the lowest level. A more grassroots approach is often what is needed.  The onward onus is on each of us to lead.

Changing our view of leadership is important to make it to work for us.  The view of the concept is what scares people.  Leadership is not just something you use at work, something a politician does, or the person in charge wherever you are. It is life oriented in scope. Leadership is transferable from one environment to another.

So engage and have your own personal leadership boot camp! Stay on mission and reap the benefits of leading in your work, community and family environments.


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About Deborah L. Parker

Deborah L. Parker is a sought after speaker on issues of leadership, personal development, career management, communications and diversity through her company The DPJ Training Group. She has also written on these topics for business publications in the Metropolitan DC and Phoenix AZ communities. Deborah is the author of 5 non-fiction books on life choices, workplace problem-solving, leadership and career management to include a well-received motivational memoir, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey, which chronicles her setbacks and successes around work, family, culture and relationship issues. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from The College of William and Mary and M.A. in Human Resource Development from George Mason University. Deborah gleans learnings from her varied careers as an Army officer as well as in corporate operations and human resources positions with ExxonMobil and Booz Allen Hamilton to cement her presentations. She is a member of the Loudoun County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Chamber of Commerce and Metro DC Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.

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