Profiles in Leadership: Lt. Col. Lawrence Baker and a “can do” attitude
4/23/2018 — GRANITE, Md. — Confidence is a cornerstone of leadership. One can learn to be a leader, to be an effective problem solver, a better communicator, a mentor and many other specifics of leadership. However, without a leader first believing in himself or herself, true leadership will exist only in the related title. Self-confidence can be a more important strength than skill, knowledge or even experience. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) programs and activities develop leaders by enhancing their skills, level of confidence, effectiveness and commitment to leading and serving in missions for America. Maryland Wing is proud of its leaders. Regardless of assignment, our unit commanders, cadet commanders, deputy commanders, program officers, coordinators and others dedicate their time and energy to making MDWG a viable component of Civil Air Patrol. Let us introduce you to just one of these dedicated volunteer leaders.
Joining CAP in June 2013, Lt. Col. Larry Baker is committed to volunteer service and to CAP’s mission and core values. Currently serving as the Montgomery Senior Squadron commander, he is certified as a mission pilot, scanner and observer and a transport mission pilot. Asked to recount his best CAP experience, Baker claims that serving in the position of the MSS squadron commander as the highpoint of his CAP career to date. Baker appreciates the opportunities that CAP offers such as service to the community coupled with flying which is an important part of his life. Baker also values the camaraderie among CAP members which he equates to that as experienced during his prior military service.
Historically, Baker is an admirer of George Washington. He values the first president’s style of leadership because it was complemented by Washington’s commitment to success and love of country. In summary, Baker recounts, “Washington risked everything for what he believed in, stood firm when many had lost hope and, most exceptionally, remained disinterested in accumulating power for himself in circumstances that would have corrupted lesser persons. He remained always dedicated to the country’s greater good.” These enduring principles complement Baker’s definition of a good leader, “Someone who can inspire those in the organization to work toward a common goal and be willing to sacrifice personal gain for the betterment of the team.”
When asked what advice he would give related to leadership, Baker replied, “The importance [of leadership] is central. A poor leader will enervate and distract the best unit, while an excellent leader will propel that same unit to continuous improvement and accomplishment. I believe my Marine Corps training and experience were fundamental to my understanding of leadership. One can study the teachings and examples of successful leaders for invaluable insight and techniques.” As an effective and confident leader, Baker follows the principle that without confidence, a leader will find it difficult to make tough decisions, lead with authority, get people to communicate and be open to discussion and feedback.
A former Utah, deputy district attorney and criminal prosecutor, Baker describes himself as disciplined, self-motivated, capable of sustained effort in pursuit of designated goals without need of supervision, willing to make substantive decisions without further consultation and willing to accept consequences for decisions made. When asked to note some of his life’s accomplishments, Baker replied, “Attaining my law degree, while working halftime as a law clerk, serving in the Marine Corps Reserve as a company executive officer and raising my two sons who have grown into fine young men of good character and great potential.”
The National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warrior’s coach, Steve Kerr is credited with the quote, “As a leader, one of the things that’s most important is to know your team needs to see you as confident.” Self-confidence is one of the fundamental basics from which leadership grows. Lt. Col. Baker’s self-confidence and “can do” attitude helps to provide a positive vision for others in his unit and the Maryland Wing.
By Capt. Alice Raatjes
Assistant Public Affairs Officer