Honoring Veterans in the C-Suite

My father was a military man, a sergeant in the United States Air Force. He served 3 tours in Vietnam during my earlier years of growing up. He is also the man who taught me how to go hunting, fishing and all of the outdoor things that I enjoy in my life.  He had a big impact on my psyche, so to say.

The biggest thing I can remember of my father is the way he approached doing a job. And it didn’t matter what job – he went at the same thing every time. Part of that was because of his military role. When I was growing up, there was only one top colonel on base and one top sergeant on base. My father was that top sergeant. He was the man for both the bomber wing and the missile wing. It was interesting because when people saw him on the base they knew he was the boss. What I learned from him is the way in which he handled people. It’s similar to the way I handle people now every day.

Even though someone might have outranked him, it was his power and knowledge that stood out. It always resonated with me, even today in the c-suite. My advice for you from him: You may not be the most senior person in the room, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the power. It’s what my father was able to show me. Too many times there were officers who outranked him, but yet because of his ability to get the things done he promised he would, they deferred to him over and over again. I saw that numerous times when we would go to family functions on base. When they didn’t know I was the son of Sergeant Hayzlett, airmen and officers would talk about him with reverence and respect, and that stuck with me.

Even if you’re in the c-suite and you’re not the most senior member, you can still exude power. That comes from delivering on the things you’re supposed to be delivering on and getting the job done right. When leaders are exceptional, excellence from your colleagues, employees, and even competitors follows suit.

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