David Tam, a 10-year US Air Force veteran, says it doesn't matter how big or small your team is. In fact, leadership begins with knowing not only what to do, but also how to do it.
“My leadership is based on a deep understanding of your team and an understanding of what drives them,” he says. "This knowledge allows you to define your vision and operate as an organization, whether it's a 30-man battle group or a 300-man squadron."
Compassion, empathy, inspiration, and focus on the big picture are key components of leading teams of all shapes and sizes. But knowing who you are as a leader does not start with your team, but with yourself.
Passionate leader in the army
Tam's military leadership career began in January 2007 and he spent 10 years as an air weapons officer. He rose to the rank of captain, survived the war and gained a wealth of experience around the world.
Throughout his service, he placed particular emphasis on the Army's unique organizational structure and principles of leadership. Accepting soldiers as officers, he tried to lead them with compassion, remembering his life as an ordinary soldier.
“Since I first entered the military, I have had a different understanding of the rank and file, and as an officer, I have tried to bridge that gap so that my soldiers have a voice,” he says. “I believe there are important lessons to be learned from the scope and depth of military operations, and this has given me an important place in the technology landscape.”
This year, he retired from the service in December 2015, but took with him the lessons he learned from military leadership and organizational structure, applying those observations to his work in the corporate world.
Applying inspiration from home and abroad
Tam's time in the Air Force gave him a deep appreciation for technology, an appreciation that fueled his business after he hung up his flight suit.
He successfully created several real estate technology companies, including a software platform with thousands of users and a digital marketing agency that he ran for many years.
After this success, he was looking for a new challenge. A spark of inspiration comes from an unexpected source – her grandmother.
“My grandfather was nearing the end of his life and he was having cognitive health issues,” Tam recalls. “During my last contact with him, I could tell that he was having trouble remembering me, and I thought to myself: I can create a tool to help others through the aging process.”
Shortly thereafter, Pencerita was born, a storytelling platform that helps the cloud share memories with others, remember loved ones, and stay true to themselves even after they are gone.
Trust the big picture
Starting a new business is often a big gamble for some, but Tam doesn't see it that way. The confidence he gained from overcoming many early trials, combined with his sense of duty to others, helps him stay focused and not give up.
“I lived a good life for 39 years,” he thinks. “I had more failures than successes and battles. Starting five companies, writing books and living all over the world gave me a challenge that I didn't even know existed. Now I'm trying to create something positive outside of myself. By impacting the world and helping people listen to other people's stories in new ways, you can remember what you want to remember: the situation."
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
1. Be motivated.
“Ideas don’t last long, so if you have a good idea, make sure you write it down and spread it quickly, because if you don’t, someone else will. This is where many entrepreneurs stop – they don't accept it right away. and decisive action. Step. If you have the right shot, take it."
2. Don't stop learning.
“The speed at which people's knowledge base is growing is unmatched. I suggest that the developing leader explore as many new ideas as he wants. Sign up for an evening class, pick up a new audiobook, or join an inspirational group. See how your creativity ignites and changes the world. What motivates you to do better, be surprised.
3. Failure is part of the journey.
"Sometimes you lose. It's inevitable. Analyze what went wrong and why. Accept it, meet with your colleagues and learn from your mistakes. You are allowed to beat yourself up, but not forever. There are millions of people who would give anything to risk what are you going to do with them?
Why self-actualization is the foundation of leadership.
Tam's leadership achievements, her empathy, motivation and ability to focus on the big picture are intertwined by one thread – her willingness to look inside herself and apply what she has learned.
First, a leader who does not know himself cannot be expected to know his team, its motives, what drives them and what drives them.
Without knowing all this about your team, your leadership style lacks the fuel it needs to take off. Remember who started with you.