Profiles in Leadership: Capt. Kevin Harris – from cadet to squadron commander
5/17/2018 — GRANITE, Md. — There are many facets to becoming a good leader. One characteristic not often addressed is the need for a leader to have compassion and go through an important transformation. Bill George, the widely respected former CEO of Medtronic calls it going from “I” to “we.” Compassionate leaders live to help others and have no place for selfishness within the teams they lead. They influence their team members through encouragement. They understand that compassion and ethics are the building blocks upon which success of any kind is formed and excellence achieved. Leaders need many tools to bring their team members together to work as a successful unit. Compassion is just one of these tools. A leader with compassion leads their team to a consistent level of success and then takes great joy in seeing team members shine individually and collectively. A leader with compassion has positive influence on those around him or her that directly affects morale, productivity and continuity of success.
Within the Maryland Wing, Civil Air Patrol, there are many effective leaders who exhibit the skills of integrity, self-awareness, vision, courage, compassion and commitment. One such volunteer is the commander of the Arundel Composite Squadron, Capt. Kevin Harris. Following the principal of leading by example, Harris comments, “Leadership is contagious. However you lead is how you will be treated by your followers. In turn, that is how they will learn to lead. Treat everyone with respect.”
Harris joined CAP as a cadet in 2002. The opportunities and experiences afforded him as a cadet contributed to his ultimate commitment to a career of service. Using the CAP core values of integrity, volunteer service, excellence and respect, he ‘pays it forward’ sharing the ethical framework for CAP’s service to America in his leadership role with squadron senior and cadet members. Harris is dedicated to excellence. Describing himself as determined, adaptive, intuitive, selfless and tenacious, he strives to ensure his actions parallel the importance of presenting the best example of CAP’s mission and goals.
Selected as Maryland Wing Group III’s 2017 Squadron Commander of the Year, Harris is proud of his CAP 16-year career. In addition to his command position, he is a skilled ground team leader, skills evaluator and mission staff assistant. When asked to outline his approach to leadership, he replies, “Dedication and actions speak louder than words. It is important to place the mission first and to take the initiative to step forward and accept responsibility. A good leader is one that places people before him- or her-self.” The focus of Harris’ leadership is to inspire others to achieve success by employing techniques including listening, personal learning and trying to understand others. He values and respects the commitment of other CAP volunteers and works to discover what matters and inspires his squadron members most to ensure that they know that they all play a key part in the mission.
In addition to serving as a CAP member, Harris is a career paramedic for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. Employing the abilities to communicate and exhibit empathy, awareness and vision both as a paramedic and a CAP leader, he proves to be more than just a person in charge. Harris, a compassionate leader who puts others before him, has the foresight and willingness to be part of the team to achieve results.
General Douglas MacArthur stated, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.” There are many responsibilities that come along with leadership. The compassionate leader brings a sense of balance and a fresh approach to the work environment. There will always be hard-hearted, bottom line leaders to lead companies and organizations; however, in today’s world, those who exhibit the characteristics of a compassionate leader may achieve better results in handling crises and communicating more effectively.
“Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s supervisors, care for one’s crew.” — Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, USN, who helped develop a compiler that was a precursor to the widely used COBOL and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Capt. Alice Raatjes, CAP
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