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7 Questions on Leadership with David A. McCuistion

Name: David A. McCuistion

Title: Director and Leadership Resilience and Success Coach

Organisation: Compass Leadership

U. S. Navy (Retired). Former Navy Junior ROTC Program Manager and Instructor. Director, Patriotic Education, Inc, providing civic education resources for instruction. John Maxwell Certified Leadership Trainer and Coach. Veterans Service Organization leader providing excellence recognition and outreach services to ROTC/JROTC Programs, Eagle and Gold Scout accomplishment, Public Service and Law and Order, Youth Leadership Conference/Seminar Director and trainer.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope David's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Influencing and convincing others that they have the talent and skills to be successful in the field of their choice. Helping them obtain and feel confident in their abilities. Helping them understand that success is a process, that it requires education and life-long learning, grit and perseverance, and hard work.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My leadership training began with the Boy Scouts during my high school experiences. Additionally, as a teenager, I was charged with leading morning services, picking music associated with the Sunday sermon, and leading singing in church.

My real leadership practices, principles and skills was during my U. S. Navy career when I advanced to mid-level enlisted ranks. I learned how to deal with problems, the methods of completing jobs with a team, and being successful in achieving goals. I was a leadership teacher throughout my Navy career, both with enlisted personnel and officers.

I hold a bachelor's Degree with a focus in Behavioral Science and a Masters's Degree in Organizational Leadership. I have lesser degrees in Business Management and Accounting, Human Resources, and Project Management.

I was a Program Manager and Instructor in high school Navy Junior ROTC, leading young people to success in a number of classes and competitive teams.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

My days with breakfast, reading emails and articles of all types, grooming (Gotta look good at all times), and creating a schedule for the day.

My lead a Veterans Service Organization (VSO), Direct Patriotic Education, Inc., President of my family Scots-Irish Clan (Family), and working on the completion of my book. I construct Newsletter for my Clan and for my VSO.

During these functions, I often am required to be flexible with interruptions and disruptions. My evenings are devoted to my wife and our family time. Prior to sleep, I read something: philosophy, history, leadership, etc. I find I must have at least seven hours of sleep each night to function well the following day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I am reminded daily that Servant Leadership is a requirement in attempting to impact others, society, teams, and people. Others before self is my focus.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I'll provide a list, which should answer the question:

1. Journey to the East by Hermann Hess;

2. Robert Greenleaf's Servant Leadership books;

3. Reading on the philosopher Ciscero;

4. One Hundred Year Marathom that details China's quest to surpass America as the leader of the world;

5. How The Spector of Communism is ruling the World, Vols 1, 2, and 3;

6. GRTI by Angela Duckworth;

7. Leo Tolstoy's God is Within Us; and

8. Then there was Light, about Abraham Lincoln's years up to his quest to to stop Slavery in America.

These books broadened my leadership practices and knowledge on building relationships with people and influencing them to do good and the right thing.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Create personal Vision and Mission Statements and diligently work to accomplish them. Get them to understand the "The fun in life is in the doing" no the fun of games and social experiences. And, that it takes grit, perseverance, and a conscience decision to never stop learning.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

It happened in the Navy when I was a new officer on a major Navy Amphibious Ship. We were in a meeting with the ship's main corps of leaders. The Commanding Officer was attempting to convince us that his idea of completing an upcoming inspection was the best solution. I confronted him with a question, which irritated him severely and resulted in him telling me to get onboard with his idea or get off the ship.

He immediately left the meeting. After giving him a period to calm down, I went to his office to talk with him. He was open to my reasoning and thanked me for coming to take with him.

My confronting him did not negatively affect our relationship nor my officer evaluations. I have learned that leadership requires honesty, courage, and the ability to communicate effectively.

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