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You’re The Leader, But Does Your Team Know Where You’re Going?


I was in a situation very early on during the invasion of Iraq where we had to take out an enemy target; an apartment building. As the ground controller was giving us a description of the target he described it as a building where the enemy was hiding and firing on our troops. I saw several buildings. I wasn’t clear. The pilot in the back was yelling at me, “Shoot, Shoot!” But I wasn’t sure which building it was!

The ground controller then said, there were palm trees in front of the building. That narrowed it down to two buildings. Again, the pilot in the back said, “I can see the palm trees, shoot the missile!” But, I still wasn’t clear, and if I was going to pull the trigger and take lives, I needed to be sure they weren’t the lives of friendly forces or civilians. The ground controller followed it up with the enemy building had a burning palm tree in front of the window they were shooting from. BINGO! That’s the clarity I needed to engage the enemy.

There was only one burning palm tree in front of a building in the sector where we were working. We were almost out of range (too close in) and were getting ready to pull off to the right, when I was able to lock onto the target, engage and effectively take out the enemy!

Clarity in leadership is a key component. I have learned that clarity is an expectation, an attitude and a mindset. When you are clear, understand where you are going and what is expected of you can effectively communicate this vision to your team. The clearer you are, the more powerful your intention for your team’s direction will be. Think of a situation when you weren’t clear and/or didn’t understand what was needed or expected. Was it easy to make decisions or did you find yourself hesitating because you didn’t have enough information? Your team can fall prey to this same gap in understanding and expectation.

When you have a clear expectation or intended outcome, you can move forward with a positive attitude. Attitude is a major player in teamwork. When someone on your team has a bad attitude it can be like cancer. When doubt and confusion start to surface, it can spread like wildfire. When someone feels unappreciated and doesn’t know how they fit into the strategic plan or the bottom line, an attitude of complacency, nonchalance and disengagement has more of an opportunity to arise. This will directly impact mission accomplishment.

The mindset or mentality of your team is absolutely critical to mission accomplishment. You want your team to have a Breakthrough Mentality. Simply put, the definition of Breakthrough Mentality is refusing to settle, even in the smallest of moments and demanding a breakthrough team, experience or result. The key is refusing to settle…even in the smallest of moments. What does this look like in action? When something isn’t right, even though it’s small and could be accepted as is, your team would strive for excellence versus just being acceptable. This mindset of always striving for excellence is what will drive customer satisfaction, internal and external.

It was a scary feeling to have my finger on the trigger – to be under extreme pressure to save lives on the ground and yet be unsure of exactly what our target was! Once I understood what target I was expected to take out, my attitude shifted from fear, anxiety and indecisiveness to KNOWING, becoming unstoppable and accomplishing the mission, effectively saving the lives on the ground.

Practical Application

1.       How can you as a leader make your vision more clear?

2.       What are your team’s goals, metrics and milestones that can guide them to the target?

3.       What are the most effective indicators of success and how will your team know when they have hit the target?

For more tools, resources and videos on leadership and getting your team Cleared Hot for Breakthrough, visit To engage FlyGirl for your organization or coaching, or just to ask a question about your team or a leadership challenge, send an email to When your team is in the heat of “battle,” give them all the tools you can to aid in understanding what is expected of them and ultimately enable and empower them to move forward with a can-do attitude and an “accomplish-the-mission-no-matter-what” mindset.

You HAVE permission to Engage…Cleared Hot!