U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher

Editor’s Note: This article by Matt Rasmussen originally appeared on The Military Leader, a blog by Drew Steadman that provides leader development resources and insight for leaders of all professions.

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I was privileged in my 23-year Army career to work directly with four very successful general officers. The lessons I learned from them can be applied to both military and civilian leadership at every level and I promised my peers that one day I would write down what I saw.

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Photo by Lance Cpl. Juanenrique Owings

I will be honest, I would consider some of the enlisted I worked with in the past, my closest friends in the world. As a 22-year-old second lieutenant placed immediately in charge of 120 enlisted, I learned that if I carried my rank like a chip on my shoulder, my career as an officer would end quickly. I figured out rather quickly that if you take care of those who work for and with you, and respect them as the individual contributors that they are, the team dynamics are much more likely to be a success. This isn’t to say that rank does not have its place, because without the hierarchy, mass chaos would ensue when it came to orders being executed. But, people are more likely to listen to orders if they know that the leader has their best interest at heart. Ideally, this is how a civilian organization should be run as well. I remind myself of this daily.

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