"Semper Paratus" is our guide, Our fame, our glory too. - Lyrics from Semper Paratus (Always Ready), The U.S.Coast Guard Service Song and Motto
Congratulations to Coast Guard Boatswain Mate First Class Jason Boop (yes, we are related – he is my little brother). Today he passed a final review and was qualified to serve as an officer-in-charge of aStation. These are the young men and women that Michael Chertof says are our "principal" sources of security in the United States. And my little brother will lead some of them. Cool.
I write about this because he faced the classic interview question, the one a Washington Post writer once called the "most odious" interview question: identify your weaknesses. The question comes in many variations.
His was to identify three leadership strengths and three leadership weaknesses. And, you answer this while standing in front of a group of older, distinguished, uniformed colleagues who outrank you. That comes after having gone through a review at both sector and district levels. Go ahead, complain about your last interview…
He addressed the question by identifying personal areas in which he, as a young Guardsman, did not particularly excel and turned the question into, "How can I lead young people when I did not follow the advice I will be giving?" In other words, he empathized with his interviewers. What leader (parent, manager, president … big brother, etc.) has not worried about past mistakes when leading people? In addition, he packaged weaknesses (most likely known to the interviewers) into strengths and anticipated their concerns by affirmatively projecting his intention to lead and make use of his experiences, good and bad. He showed self-awareness, a willingness to change, and the ability to use that experience to benefit the organization.
I think he will do fine.