Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Auxiliarist Linda Jones

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Written by Auxiliarist Frank Hof

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist Linda Jones. Photo courtesy of Aux. Linda Jones.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist Linda Jones. Photo courtesy of Aux. Linda Jones.

As the 2018 Greanoff Inspirational Leadership award winner, Flotilla Cmdr. Linda Jones never had a single “Ah-Ha” moment in her leadership journey but rather a series of life events and choices that molded her leadership style and dedication.

From an early age, Jones’ parents encouraged that through hard work and dedication she could achieve whatever goals she set for herself. Her parents also taught her that you must treat people with kindness, consideration and respect.

At a very early age, her goal was to be a teacher. She wanted to help people learn, because she understood knowledge was important to everyone’s growth and success. As an elementary school teacher, she found that leading by example was essential and effective. Her students benefitted from her experience and dedication as a teacher. They learned to be good citizens, learned about their country and culture, and the importance of honoring veterans.

When Jones was 34, she developed Guillain Barre syndrome and was paralyzed from the neck down. This helped her to learn to accept help from other people. It was not easy, but was another experience that taught her more about being a leader. She had been the doer, the helper, the teacher, but was now forced to get help from others. She was very fortunate to regain movement in all of her limbs and was able to carry on a normal life after the illness took its course. This experience strengthened her resolve to do as much as she could and have as many experiences in life as she could. It also helped develop her leadership style.

As time went by, her dedication drove her to take on more challenges. If something was not getting done, she learned to look for solutions to make it happen by using all of her leadership skills and knowledge. Sometimes it required her to take on a new job or activity, but she preferred to find someone else with the required expertise and guide them to getting the job done. She has been inspired by the interaction with others in developing a solid solution to a problem.

In the Coast Guard Auxiliary, she said she has had the good fortune to meet many interesting, intelligent, well-educated, and enthusiastic people. However, she has often found that sometimes they just need positive guidance to take on a task. Other times a one-to-one discussion about how they are the right person for the task helps to get them to participate.

“We don’t all know where we fit in, so sometimes it just takes a gentle push in the right direction to help us find our niche,” said Jones.

She has had good mentors who have helped her develop her leadership skills in the Auxiliary. In the past 10 years in which she has been involved in the auxiliary, she has met and worked with many wonderful people who have inspired her. She used the feedback from these mentors to improve her leadership style.

When she became the ombudsman for Coast Guard Station Yankeetown, she had even more people to inspire her. The young men and women of the Coast Guard station demonstrate honor, respect, and devotion to duty every day. She considers each one of them an adopted son or daughter and strives to make their lives easier, especially when they initially arrive at the station.

Jones considers herself and her efforts to be very patriotic. After her country suffered the terrible tragedy of 9/11, she became even more of a patriot and looked for ways to get involved and use her skills from education and life to do more. She also found from her experience with Guillain Barre syndrome, where she had to rely on others for help, that she could achieve more by leading others than she could ever do on her own. Skilled, inspired leadership became an effort multiplier.

An inspirational leader must find their inspiration from someone or somewhere. When she was a teacher it was her students. When she had her own children, it was the children who continued to inspire her to lead by example. When she became an Auxiliarist, her inspiration came from her husband, members of the active duty Coast Guard, and the Flotilla members.

Linda commented that, “I owe this recognition of the Commodore Charles S. Greanoff Inspirational Leadership award to all those who have encouraged and inspired me along the way.”

 


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