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At Leadercast Now, we believe in the core value of “Beyond You” leadership – putting your team first and letting them know every day that you respect and value them as people. In collaboration with Leadercast, TOMS Global Brand Ambassador Bethany Joy Clark shares a moving story about an amazing “Beyond You” leader who has forever influenced her own leadership journey – her grandfather, Major General George William Smith. Leadercast is honored to feature Bethany’s story:
Last week I attended my grandfather’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. It was one of the most profound experiences I’ve witnessed as it wasn’t just a funeral, it was truly a celebration of his life – and one incredibly well lived.
My grandfather, Major General George William Smith (USMC, Ret.) was buried with full military honors. He led his life with great intentionality and at the age of 17, joined the Marine Corps, later marrying my grandmother who was the love of his life and to whom he was married for over 60 years. When they first were married he said to her, “Stick with me kid, I’m going to be a general someday”—and he was. I could tell you all that he accomplished in his career; however, what’s truly remarkable are the intangible gifts he gave others as he walked through his leadership journey.
Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Wesley L. Fox (USMC, Ret.) served under my grandfather in Vietnam and performed the eulogy at his funeral. As I’d heard many accolades about Col. Fox, I looked forward to hearing him speak. He could have spoken about all the hardships or victories they experienced together over the decades but instead he focused on one thing… leadership.
Col. Fox went on to talk about the importance of staying in the trenches with your team, going without so they have what they need, leading with humility and celebrating your people. Most often those leadership traits do not lead to medals on your chest but they are in fact the heaviest medals that will be placed over your heart.
My grandfather was a very serious man who didn’t speak often; but when he did, everyone listened. Throughout his career he championed his people. At his funeral several attendees noted how he was always intentional to say, “Proud of ya, kid.”
The power of believing in people cannot be seen; however, can be deeply felt.
My first priority as I navigate the privilege of leadership continues to be ensuring that my family, team, colleagues, and community know I believe in them. I am for them, their happiness and ultimate success. The time we’re given on this earth is too short to do otherwise.
When I’m older and the sun sets on my life and career, I sure hope that I’ve placed far more medals on the hearts of others all over the world than can be counted. Now more than ever I think about living with intention, the leadership legacy I’m creating and the impact I have on each individual I cross paths with daily.
What is success in leadership?
Well, Major General George W. Smith would tell you it’s looking in the mirror and being proud of the person looking back at you.
What’s your “Proud of ya, kid?” saying or action that let’s your family, friends and colleagues know you’re for them and their success?
Bethany Joy Clark is the Global Brand Ambassador for TOMS, follow her on Twitter to stay connected on the TOMS movement, social good and her love of all things Community.