Leadership Lessons from Guantanamo Bay

When we received an email asking if the LEADon team would be willing to visit Guantanamo Bay to teach leadership lessons  with the troops stationed there, our initial reaction came in the form of two questions:

  1. What could ordinary civilians like us possibly have to say to highly-trained military personnel?

That was followed promptly by:

  1. How quickly can we schedule our trip? What an opportunity to give back to the troops who offer us the freedom we enjoy each day!

So, with capable guidance from GTMO, we completed the necessary steps to confirm our visit and readied ourselves for what we figured would be an amazing adventure. As soon as we arrived, we were impressed with the operations at this 111-year-old U.S. naval installation. The men and women we met were all ages (Millennials to Baby Boomers) and from many walks of life, but they are united in purpose as well as the commitment to freedom for those of us far from their island shores.

We believed we would gain more than we shared during the leadership trainings for the Joint Task Force and Naval Station personnel—and this proved true from the moment our feet hit the ground to our last glimpse of Cuba slipping into the horizon. You see, those men and women in uniform reinforced what we’ve spent years sharing: leadership is influence. Those soldiers lead each and every day—and, as we found out, their leadership is 24/7, 365. They empower others in their individual spheres of influence, and they impact millions of people who don’t even know their names.

If we could encourage you with some leadership lessons from Guantanamo Bay, the first would be to make the most of the opportunities you’re given. You have tremendous influence right where you are—so impact those around you in positive and powerful ways. Also, when we’re open to coaching, great things can happen. Be willing to consider new insights and new ways of doing things—even if they may seem to be from the most unlikely of sources. Finally, give back when you have the chance to do so. The benefit to you, personally and professionally, will more than likely be beyond belief!