My Leadership Manual – Understanding Me

By David S. Chang

The purpose of this manual is to be a “guide”, so you know how to best work with and understand me.



The purpose of this manual is to be a “guide”, so you know how to best work with and understand me. By explicitly helping you become aware of my personality (including quirks!), work style, my likes and dislikes, and my expectations, the goal is to shorten the learning curve that might otherwise take months, or even years, to uncover. 

I ask that you take the time to read it. I believe the information is invaluable when dealing with me, understanding how I make decisions, and how I generally interact with others. ​I welcome feedback to help improve this manual.

​As you will learn from this manual, communication and situational understanding is extremely important to me​. Please do not hesitate to contact me at david.s.chang.mil@mail.mil, or for fastest response text me at 808-383-7755, or email me at david@changholding.com (for non-PII emails).

David S. Chang,
Battalion Commander
250th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion


Understanding My WHY

I come from an immigrant Korean-American family which heavily emphasized hard work, education, and our faith. Growing up it was ingrained in me that America was the greatest country in the world.

The US saved my family from decades of foreign occupation, from ruthless persecution by the communists, and gave my family the opportunity to pursue the American Dream. 

I grew up with heroic stories of ​General MacArthur’s Incheon Landing in the Korean War, family who fought alongside the US against the communist invasion, my father’s experience as a KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the US Army). My family had great respect for the US Military. 

I decided in the 5th grade that I wanted to attend West Point. This is how I could serve and give back. America is truly a place of opportunity,  something I am incredibly grateful for. I  believe that the only bad opportunity is a wasted one​.


It’s a privilege to do what we do, and it’s our joyful responsibility to take our work seriously, but not ourselves!​ I am passionate about being good stewards of what we have, excel in my work, and exceed expectations.

My Personality Tests (Descriptor Names)

  • Myer’s Briggs:  ENTJ (Executive/Commander) 
  • DISC Assessment Style:  Dynamo (D-88% I-98% S-23% C-16%​​)
  • HowtoFascinate: Primary Advantage = Prestige + Secondary Advantage= Innovation / Power  (The Avante-Guard / The Victor)

My Adjectives (Words that Best Describe Me)

  • Enterprising and Entrepreneurial Visionary
  • Results-Oriented Execution and Forward-Thinking Creativity
  • Motivated, Competitive, Resilient, and Ambitious

My Guiding Principles

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8;   

Be so good people can’t ignore you. 

  • Never cease trying to be the best version of yourself every day. Excellence is a habit; it must be proactively developed.
  • You can do anything but can’t do everything. Teamwork and respect for others is essential; success is driven by helping others succeed.
  • The best investment you can make in life is in yourself; be a lifelong learner. Great leaders are great readers.
  • Be humble. Uncontrolled egos are why people and organizations fail.
  • Life is not fair. Don’t whine or make excuses. Take responsibility for your actions, learn from your mistakes, and then move forward.
  • Pray for guidance, seek counsel, and give thanks for your blessings daily.

MY WORK STYLE

I have an entrepreneurial approach to life. I tend to be a forward-thinking leader, always looking for a better way of doing things. I focus on adding value through better execution, generating innovative ideas, and motivating others to succeed. I am comfortable communicating to large groups. I don’t like to micromanage; I prefer to give you my intent and empower you to execute

  • ​I am naturally inquisitive and will ask a lot of questions. I want to understand how things work or fail to work. These insights stimulate my thinking. My mind tends to quickly and prolifically develop creative solutions or reinterpret the status quo.
  • By nature, I possess a tremendous capacity for working long hours. I am available 24/7 but don’t expect others to do the same. My work style is closer to maximizing bursts of energy throughout the day than sticking to a set schedule.
  • I strongly believe in the “80% solution” and that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” I prioritize promptness over perfection, focus on moving  forward, and then adapt. I am comfortable with prudent risk, especially if the potential return is high.
  • I strongly believe in the “80% solution” and that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” I prioritize promptness over perfection, focus on moving  forward, and then adapt. I am comfortable with prudent risk, especially if the potential return is high.
  • My work style is to use a “Build, Measure, Learn” feedback loop. I like to test, iterate quickly, then use the data to improve. I learn best through experience and experimentation and have a strong bias toward action. ​I highly leverage technology.​
  • I function at a faster pace than most people and tend to have multiple projects going on at once. ​While I am outgoing, I can be reserved depending on the situation. To maximize my effectiveness, I schedule time alone to reflect and focus.

WHAT I LIKE & VALUE​

  • Timely & exceptional work. You know I have high standards – Impress me!
  • I am obsessed with “doing the right things right.” Do the most effective things (the right things) efficiently as possible (doing it right).​ I like to see tangible evidence of performance & getting results, not lip service. ​
  • I like working with those who value hard work, resourcefulness,​proactivity, & productivity as much as I do. I expect the highest quality deliverables from myself and others​.
  • I am metrics-driven. What you measure is what you focus on. I like to see dashboards, trends/data analysis, and where we are, where we were, and where we need to go.
  • Communication is extremely important to me.​ I trust you do to your job, just keep me informed. Be crisp, transparent, and respectful. I expect quick answers. When in doubt push info up to me. I would rather have more than less. 
  •  Successful people are naturally curious who like solving problems & learning as they go. They focus on unity of will. I would rather hold you back then push you forward 

WHAT I DISLIKE

  • Know-it-alls who can’t admi​​t when they’re wrong, what they don’t know, dismiss feedback  and don’t take responsibility for their actions. Not being teachable. 
  • Takers who like to get more than they give, blame others, & put their own interests ahead of others. Prefers sabotage if they don’t get their way as form of revenge
  • Grumblers, negativity, a “sense of narcissistic entitlement” and an “us vs them” mentality. These traits and attitudes are highly contagious and undermine unit trust. Teamwork is everything. Excuses get in the way of growth. Own your behavior.
  • I default to trust, but if my confidence is shaken, it’s hard to rebuild. Ways to lose my trust: not following through, withholding info, not being honest,  avoiding hard conversations, being disrespectful, or for me to feel as though I am being taken advantage of. 
  • Not having TRUE situational understanding. Tell me what I need to know early and often so I am not surprised. ​​​Bad news doesn’t get better with time.
  • Wasting time and resources on tasks that do not directly or indirectly help our unit. Doing things just for the sake of wanting to look busy. Eventually we will know.
  • Caring too much of what people think. We can’t keep everyone happy. There will be personality conflicts. We are professionals, let’s put them aside, don’t dwell, and drive on.

WHAT MY STRESSORS ARE

  • Disrespect, disloyalty, and unprofessionalism; Lack of tact
  • Failure is great (as long as you learn quickly); surprises are not ​
  • Not being kept informed; lack of honesty and transparency
  • Not meeting suspenses; lack of preparation and organization/systems
  • Inefficiencies, laziness, and shoddy work 
  • The same mistakes made repeatedly
  • Working with people who are takers, know-it-alls, and don’t value hard work or high productivity as much as I do
  • I get antsy with hypothetical musings, over-analysis, and impracticality of extreme idealism. I can be turned off by boredom.
  • No opportunity to pause and get organized, and no personal time
  • A work environment that is too constricting, routine, and restrictive
  • Not meeting commitments that I make and disappointing others​

HOW I TYPICALLY REACT TO STRESS

  • When things aren’t done well or organized, I can be over-assertive
  • I have a very high degree of resilience, but when circumstances are very trying, I can be aloof, detached in feeling, and react negatively
  • When deprived of personal time and rejuvenation and/or when conditions get hurried with continuous high external demands, my reaction can be one of withdrawal, avoidance & unexpected fatigue
  • I am inclined to be distrustful and my morale and enthusiasm wanes ​when dealing with Takers, Know-it-alls and Negative people
  • When put in a very restricting and controlling environment, or not able to use my personal strengths, I can be restless, bored, and lose emotional strength

MY DAILY / WEEKLY CADENCE

  • I normally put in 12 to 16-hour work days broken up into mini-work sprints.​ ​Energy management, not time management, is key to high performance​. My work sprints & rest periods are based on my energy cycle
  • I am a night owl with my energy at its height later in the day. The best time to approach me is usually after late morning. However please do not hesitate to contact me at all hours. Be aware of my time difference
  • My goal is to spend 50% of my time engaged in thoughts, activities, reflection, and conversations that produce most of my results. I also am intentional about my rest and rejuvenation to maximize my energy.

HOW TO BEST COMMUNICATE WITH ME

  • I leverage technology to ensure open communication. The fastest ways are texts, the app “Signal” and my civilian email. ​I don’t readily have access to my .mil email so if you sent an important one, let me know by text/email. For more important things (CCIRs) please call me. ​If there is an opportunity for you to see me face-to-face, please do not hesitate to see me.​​
  • ​I want to be challenged in thoughtful and constructive ways. DO NOT BE AFRAID to talk to me about anything.I will always listen.​ I respect people who have the right blend of confidence and humility to know when to question someone (even the boss!), and when to defer to others. 
  • BLUF upfront always (emails, calls, mtgs).  Be respectful, tactful, and professional. ​​Prepare what you want/need​ with logic and get to the point. I prefer bullet points to prose. Learn to be graphic & visually communicate information, I notice the small things. ​​Don’t read slides, highlight key points
  • If I send an email, respond “ACK” so I know you received it. Ask if you need clarification. I don’t like sending reminders. If constraints get in the way, let me know; don’t assume I know.​​If you make a mistake or something is heading off the rails, tell me before the crash ​so I can prepare.
  • Don’t just forward me emails. Think critically and provide me the analysis with BLUF. Use the “to” and “cc” lines properly, or it will be just spam. I get hundreds of emails a day. If it is an important email, follow-up with me.

WHAT PEOPLE MISUNDERSTAND ABOUT ME

  • My passionate work ethic can come across as forceful and overbearing. This doesn’t mean that I want to silence any opinion or contributions. It also doesn’t mean I am trying to put my interests ahead of anyone else’s.
  • The mental rigor I demand of myself, my desire to take advantage of opportunities, & my futuristic views of what can be, often result in me initiating plans/projects. It can be seen as juggling too many things at once
  • I am very hard on myself. I tend to ​persevere in my efforts because I believe diligence and grit is rewarded. It may seem however that I am being stubborn, pedantic, dogmatic.​
  • My mind is always going at 100 mph, thinking of the next step. It is never my intention to purposely leave anyone behind or be seen as being insensitive to anyone’s needs.
  • As a serial entrepreneur starting multiple start-ups, I had to learn to brand and position myself to survive. It may seem pretentious or that I am overly-concerned with presentation, but it has been out of necessity and habit.​
  • I ask a lot of questions and request information. It is not a reflection of you, but how I think.​ Mistakes are not the same as bad performance. Don’t take it personal if I am disappointed w/your performance. Improve!
  • Don’t confuse my tendency to work alone in my office with being disengaged.  My door’s always open. I also try not to make decisions when hungry, tired, or emotionally drained.​
  • I  like generating ideas and solutions that are outside the box. ​It may seem however, that I am setting rules on my own terms. I am comfortable in ambiguous circumstances.

HOW YOU CAN HELP ME

We all have bad habits that have compounded over time and they can be difficult to shed. Self-awareness is key to improve. ​Just as it is important ​that I give you feedback, I also need yours. I need to know how my leadership style affects the team and if there is a way I can better engage/interact with the unit​​.

  • If you see something I can improve on, do not be afraid to tell me in a tactful and professional way. Understand that I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve.
  • I need to know if you have everything you need – the right skills, the right resources and enough time – to successfully complete the work. Communicate!
  • I have low patience for bad performance and low effort. If you feel like I’m getting into your area of responsibility, I probably am because I don’t feel confident that you’ve got it under control. I need you to show me your plan to fix the situation.​​
  • Tell me if you feel that I am not asking for your suggestions. I appreciate when others are inclusive towards me, so I strive to collaborate and do the same.
  • I move quickly and don’t always catch every detail (except when it comes to the quality of our work where I can be a painstaking perfectionist). I appreciate help making sure the details are covered, and what requires my attention.
  • Make an extra effort to indicate if something is important to you and how carefully and thoroughly you have considered your decisions.​​​ Then I know what you value. 
  • “We judge ourselves by our intentions, but other people by their actions.”​ I am human and will mistakes. Be graceful and give me the benefit of the doubt.
  • Assumptions and misunderstandings cause conflict. If you have heard from others something I said that bothers you, come talk to me directly, don’t harbor it.​
  • I may not communicate as much as I should, especially when I am focused on a task. Prompt me to be proactive, to engage Soldiers, and explain the “why”.

MY VISION FOR THIS SEASON OF LEADERSHIP

Being a leader comes with great responsibility. ​Not only am I accountable for the unit’s overall success and readiness, but I am responsible for coaching, giving feedback, and guiding the personal development for every Soldier in the unit.

The Leadership ​Styles I Want to Exhibit 

  • Servant Leadership -To serve first, focus on the readiness, growth, well-being of the unit.
  • Coaching Leadership – To ask questions rather than issuing orders or making statements 

1. MY MAIN GOAL​

To make the 250th E-MIBn the best it can be; deliver superior performance relative to our federal and state mission; make a distinctive impact on the communities we support; and build and achieve greatness to last.

I will focus on removing any obstacles and provide the resources needed to succeed. I want to show the 250th how great they can be, inspire them to look ahead, and to not settle for less.

2. MY PERSONAL PRIORITIES

  1. Lightning Readiness -Priority #1 – there is no other #1.
  2. Soldier Development/Talent Management – Create individual career development plans to help every Soldier advance​
  3. Expeditionary Training​ – Train for the fight that has not yet occurred with methods not yet understood or seen. 
  4. Culture​ of Trust and Empowerment – A positive unit culture is linked to higher morale, engagement, and productivity

3. THE HOW

  • Disciplined People + Disciplined Thought + Disciplined Action + Culture of Empowerment = Greatness to Last! 
  • Be Consistent with our values and mission and be transparent​ by sharing successes & failures
  • Prioritize Soldier Well-Being​ & Development; Recognize & Reward Valuable Contributions; Embrace Feedback

https://artofthinkingsmart.com/my-leadership-manual/

David S. Chang

Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Wealth Manager and CEO | Chief Editor, Author, Keynote Speaker, Consultant ArtofThinkingSmart.com | Political Consultant | Army Officer National Guard | Living To Fulfill Needs, Solve Problems, and Live Passionately!

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NGCA-MIB-CR                                                                                        10 June 2019                                                                                                                                        MEMORANDUM FOR All Soldiers, 250th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion...

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