Friday, December 15, 2023

IMOA: Let's talk about leadership


(IMOA) Imagine Pacific Original Article 

Let's talk about leadership

By SMSgt. Jared Mina, EMT, B.Ed. 

Hawaii Air National Guard    


Let’s talk about leadership… What is “leadership?” The simple answer can be found in any Webster’s Dictionary such as… Definition #1 states “the office or position of a leader.” That doesn’t quite work for me. I think a better question would be “What does leadership look like?”

To help illustrate this, I will be talking about “The 5 Types of Leaders” 

as discussed by Mack and Ria Story (Story, 2021).

Type 1: Managerial Leader (Level 1)

A managerial leader is the least effective of the five types of leaders. They have the least influence. They see members as tools for their advancement. At the end of the day, it’s all about “Look at what I did,” regardless of their actual contributions. They tend to value the position more than the people. This leader can be appointed or perhaps they happen to be the last person available with the right credentials for the position (right place, right time).

Some Traits of the Type 1:

·   Character is weak.

·   Desire is “to be served” rather than “to serve.”

·   Strength comes from power, control, formal authority, and personal results.

·   “I follow because I have to…”

Type 2: Relational Leader (Level 2) 

This type of leader is more focused on people. They want to build relationships. People follow because of who they are rather than what they know (technical knowledge). Their weakness is not making/taking the time to develop their craft. Like the level 1 leader, this person can be at the right place at the right time. What differentiates them from the level 1 leader is the fact that they have taken an interest in the people and are willing to build relationships.

Some Traits of the Type 2:

·   Character is stronger.

·   Desire is to serve.

·   Values people more than the position.

·   Strength comes from relationships and moral authority.

·   “I follow because I like you…”

Type 3: Motivational Leader (Level 3) 

A motivational leader desires what’s best for both the people and the organization. People want to follow them because of who they are and what they know. They influence others from the outside. They are process-focused. These leaders have taken the time to learn/perfect their craft. This is where they begin to see the importance of building people up to their level (mentorship).

Some Traits of the Type 3:

·   Character is strong.

·   Desire is to serve.

·    Focus is on leading (influencing/releasing) people, managing processes, and getting results.

·   “I follow because you have moved me to…”

Type 4: Inspirational Leader (Level 4) 

An inspirational leader inspires managerial and relational leaders to become motivational leaders. Their focus is on growing themselves to inspire others to grow. They influence others on the inside. They are people-focused, not process-focused. These are who we would begin considering our “Subject Matter Experts (SME’s).” They have achieved a status where they are now mentoring Level 3 leaders towards becoming Level 4.

Some Traits of the Type 4:

·   Competency is highly developed and specialized.

·   Focus is on leading and developing Level 3 leaders.

·   Values people more than position.

·   Strength comes from relationships, moral authority, and the growth of others.

·   “I follow because I feel the need to…”

Type 5: Transformational Leader (Level 5) 

A transformational leader’s passion and purpose are to transform others. Their influence touches people in all industries and across multiple generations. They have put in the time and effort to better themselves (i.e. PME[1]) with the goal of bettering the organization. These are your SME’s! Besides making strategic and tactical decisions, their primary goal is to grow the organization, both in mission and personnel. More importantly, the Level 5 leader knows that this isn’t the end journey…it’s the beginning of a new adventure!

Some Traits of the Type 5:

·   Competency is highly developed and specialized.

·   Focus on leading influencing people and developing Level 3 and leaders.

·   Values people more than position.

·   Strength comes from relationships, moral authority, growth, and earn respect.

·   “I follow because I know I want to…”

So, what does all this mean? Here’s my interpretation utilizing two things that I truly enjoy, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Star Wars[2] movies!!!

At White Belt (Level 1), we have Jar Jar[3]… he did the minimum to get his white belt, show up. In the big picture, he took the hardest step in BJJ. Just stepping on the mat is a big deal. But, like a Level 1, you don’t know much but you are “higher” than someone that hasn’t stepped on the mat. Like all martial arts, you should be working towards your next level/belt. The same should apply to a leader. They shouldn’t just be satisfied by just “being there.” They should be working towards improving themselves. Some people never make it past this level.

At Blue Belt (Level 2), we have Wedge Antilles, Rebel X-Wing pilot, flew missions against both Death Stars. At this level, you’ve earned the respect of upper leadership but still have some Level 1 tendencies. You don’t magically become better once you get your BJJ blue belt. You still make some of the same mistakes you did as a white belt, but now you have some of the tools to fix them. It will require work and sacrifice, but you do have the potential to get to the next level. The same goes for a Level 2 leader; you know just enough to get by, people begin to like you, and if you put in the time and effort, you can move to Level 3. In BJJ, you know just enough to hurt yourself. But again, some people don’t make it past this level either.

At Purple Belt (Level 3), we have Han Solo, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain who he is. As I mentioned earlier, the biggest realization here is that it’s no longer just about you. In BJJ, if you receive your Purple Belt, you’ve already put in probably four or more years of training. Like a Level 3 leader, it’s time to start learning how to give back. For me, this is where I learned to be an instructor. The biggest lesson I learned here is that it’s not about who shows up to class today; it’s more about who wants to show up for class tomorrow! As a Level 3 leader, you should be motivating members to want to come back and continue to improve the organization not just today but tomorrow and the days following. At this point, most people are committed and have invested a lot into the art/organization and will most likely stay for the long haul.

At Brown Belt (Level 4) is Luke Skywalker. He’s best known for the re-emergence of the Jedi. You can see his growth throughout the movies, from a young boy on a farm to the leader of the new Jedi order. At this point, he is almost the SME for all things Jedi. Level 4 leaders are the same. They have put in lots of time and effort towards learning and perfecting their craft. This is where you mentor others to get to your level. You are considered the master who trains the apprentice in a “train the trainer” relationship. In addition to completing your tasks, you are also responsible for mentoring the Level 3 leaders towards becoming Level 4’s.

Our Black Belt (Level 5) on this list is Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke’s mentor. There is no doubt that this character is an SME in the Jedi arts! Even after “dying,” he was still sharing his knowledge with Luke. Maybe not quite on that “share after dying” level, but a Level 5 leader is the same way. You’ve put in countless hours into the mission and organization that you are the SME! So now it is your responsibility to share that knowledge through mentorship of those below you as well as those outside the organization. Why outside? That’s how you expand your mission. That’s how innovation is born. Growth is a good thing. This is how you set your organization up for success so it will continue to grow without you.

But wait… there’s more... Why are there still two more belts[4]? Symbolically, they represent the fact that once you receive your Black Belt, that is not the end. Every Black Belt I’ve had the opportunity to train with or under has said it’s not the end…it’s a new beginning. I believe the same goes for leadership. Once you stop trying to better yourself or the organization you essentially start to destroy everything you’ve worked for. Just because you have a Black Belt doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to display some White Belt tendencies. It’s climbing a mountain. Yes, you can move up, but you can easily slide down. The same goes for leadership. A Level 5 can perform like a Level 1, and in some cases potentially vice versa. Sometimes you make big moves, other times not so much. Sometimes you’ll need to retrace your steps or find a different path. Some people will just give up altogether. While others will continue to push no matter how hard the journey gets. In the end, it’s up to you.

So… What kind of leader do you want to be?

Senior Master Sergeant Jared Y. Mina, EMT, B.Ed. serves as the Detachment 1, HQ 154 Medical Group's Senior Enlisted Leader and augmentee to the Command Staff, HQ USPACAF. With a military career since 1996, he held roles from combat medic in Iraq to Health SME in the State Partnership Program in Indonesia and the Philippines. Born in Maui, he holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Key Words: #IMOA, #LeadershipStyle, #5Types,#BJJ, #BrazilianJiuJitsu,#leadership, #character

Works Cited

Lucas, G. (Director). (1977). Star Wars [Motion Picture].

Lucas, G. (Director). (1999). Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. [Motion Picture].

Story, M. &. (2021, March 2). The 5 types of leaders. ATD. Retrieved from 

[1] PME stands for Professional Military Education; this is a requirement for airmen to progress in their professional careers.

[2] (Lucas, 1977)

[3] (Lucas, 1999)

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