There is a leader in all of us. For everyone, finding that leader presents a different journey. How do you know the best way to use your leadership skills? Do true leaders lead by example, or do they enforce management codes? Are they born leaders, or do they develop these skills? Can leadership be taught and if so, what tools are needed to bring out the leader in us all? Leadership skills are relevant everywhere we go – from home to the office to corporate America to the entrepreneurial small business. If you ask the experts, true leadership is a combination of all of the above. It is knowing when to assert yourself, and more importantly, when to take a step back.
While leadership training has been around for a long time, it is only recently that the higher profile and award-winning programs have incorporated technology into their training modules. According to a recent study, companies in the United States spend an average of $20+ million per year on leadership training programs for their managers. The irony is that these programs, while giving some information to their students, don’t train them to be leaders, just managers. There is a huge difference between a manager and a leader. In practical terms, leaders lead people to greatness and encourage growth, while managers simply manage to the mandates they are handed.
Nobody understands this better than Andrew LeMasters, who founded the Spearhead Development Group. His myriad of leadership experience, both inside and outside the military, has taught him that, “businesses need true leaders if they want to reach their full potential, not managers. Leaders do everything a manager can and so much more. They can create environments that breed innovation. They understand different personality types and how to communicate with each one and in return welcome diversity. Leaders can flex their styles to fit the environment as often as they have to. They take the time to know their employees personally and care about them on a deeper level. But most importantly they always place others before themselves,” he says.
Through his online-based leadership academy, LeMasters and his team are changing how we think about leadership, and more importantly, how we study it. In effect, they are changing not only the business of doing business, but also how leaders can empower their teams to contribute more, while finding their own greatness. “My goal is to revolutionize the way leaders are developed. Something hasn’t been working, and it’s time for change,” says LeMasters.
Spearhead Development Group has technology-based, integrated e-learning leadership modules which teach, not only empowerment and leadership skills, but also key solutions for corporate and entrepreneurial organizations in a user-friendly, time-sensitive environment. Exercises in the program are interactive and engaging, while the real-life scenarios found in the coursework are designed to aid in retention and analysis. All of this is done through advanced technology, and tools which were created based on LeMasters’ real-life experiences in the Special Forces.
LeMasters decided at an early age that the military was for him; so at 18, he enlisted to become a member of the Military Police. Shortly after, he was deployed to Iraq, where he was responsible for everything from Personal Security Details to Key Leader Engagements to Con Air. In the process, he realized that the way leaders are taught and function in the military transcended to civilian life. After coming home from Iraq, he became determined to join the Special Forces and continue his military journey. To him, anything less than that was unacceptable. Through his sheer determination and will, he passed the Special Forces Assessment and Selection, earning his green beret. After being assigned to join a group in Florida, where he “became the newest and probably the worst at everything,” LeMasters realized he had a golden opportunity. To him, being in this position meant he understood the greatness around him.
This journey helped him define and grow his personal goals and aspirations far beyond what he had imagined in the past. That time in his life was truly life-altering, as it taught him what a real leader is. He also learned how true leaders lead and inspire others. Here, he found his purpose…until it all changed during his third deployment when he fell ill, thus receiving a medical discharge. He felt lost; and although his family was behind him 200 percent, LeMasters’ skills, determination, and goals were challenged.
“I went from being Special Forces, jumping out of planes, late nights, early mornings, and never being in the same place for more than a month or two, to being a full-time student that never left the house and felt isolated from the world. Downtime became my enemy” he said. One thing LeMasters understood was that he had to find the greater purpose in this experience.
“Leading people became my “reason” for why everything had happened to me.” LeMasters believes that, “at the end of the day, my mind always came back to leadership. I loved people. I loved pushing them to be better. I loved diversity and I loved getting a group of people from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. All of this was so easy and natural to me, although it wasn’t at first. It took years of experience leading people from different countries, in different languages, failing, and learning from my mistakes for leadership to eventually become easy.”
Another thing he understood was the importance of using technology to teach, instead of merely putting people in a classroom with paperwork and a speaker. When his leadership students are able to do the work in modules, they can retain, the learning curve is much shorter. Through technology, Spearhead’s classroom became virtual, and their students became far more engaged. Engagement is, of course, the hallmark of a true leader. His program gives the gift of e-learning, while making it accessible for all. He is passing along his understanding and training, so that everyone who becomes a student of his understands their importance to a corporation, military organization, or even a family unit. For each, there is an empowered leader within; with the right education, you will find what it truly means.” At the end of the day, through technology, and his own journey, he is bridging the gap between those who are managers and those who are true leaders.