Success Stories

A True Leader Often Sees in Us What We Don’t Yet See in Ourselves

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As I am sure is true with many others, there were a number of people who helped me along the way of my life’s journey that helped me succeed. Most of them saw something in me, something I didn’t see in myself, and helped me see that thing and grow to the next level to become more successful. While there were many in my life, the one I credit with giving me the biggest push was Command Sergeant Major Lonnie Bagwell.

I was young man in my early 20’s coming to the end of my first enlistment in the Army. Honestly, I was just wandering through life wondering where I was headed. I can’t say that I was “finding myself,” because I didn’t really know what that meant. I have to admit I was rather disillusioned with whole military experience. Looking back, I could see that a lack of effective leadership led me to feel that way.

Inspirational Leadership

Lonnie Bagwell had just been promoted to First Sergeant when he became part of my direct leadership chain. He took many steps to turn around the low morale and low preparedness of the entire group. He was quick to publicly praise those who did well, and he certainly corrected those who needed it.

Servant Leadership in the Military

Photo Credit: Olegdudko

There were three core things he taught those whom he led:

  • Taking care of soldiers (making sure they have the tools and training they needed)
  • Accomplishing the mission (getting the job done – delivering)
  • Doing the right thing even when no one is looking (integrity).

By exemplifying these traits, he modeled servant leadership and gave me the inspiration I needed to move towards my future success both during my 14 year military career, and then afterwards in business.

I wasn’t the only one who was positively affected. Many of those who served with CSM Bagwell credit him as being the example that help them be successful in their careers. This one man had an impact on many. I can certainly credit him with having a tremendous positive impact on me.

Editor’s Note: Thank you Elmer Boutin, and Command Sergeant Major Lonnie Bagwell for your service today, on Veteran’s Day, and every day of the year. You can read more about what happens when a true leader sees something in us that we do not see in ourselves in Chapter 3 of Crowd Success.


Elmer currently works for Rockfish as Director, Search Strategy on assignment to GTB as Director, Organic Search (SEO). While he specializes in SEO, overall search strategy and online reputation management, because of the highly collaborative culture at Rockfish, he's also highly involved in content strategy, user experience and complete digital strategy for several large brands. Elmer also speaks in public events and conferences on digital marketing and leadership - and writes about those topics and more on his website. Elmer ... ... is a veteran of the U.S. Army (14 years ) ... understands Czech and German ... holds an amateur radio license (KB5NJU) ... is married ... has three great kids ... plays the bass.

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