Forged in Service: The Leadership Journey of Tom Williams

Some people spend a lifetime trying to figure out what they’re putting on this planet to do. Most of us settle somewhere, finding things that might not be a perfect fit but are good enough and a worthy replacement for that one great thing. And then, there’s the handful that knows what they want in life before theirs has started.

Tom Williams got onto the road that would lead him through life early on. After graduating from high school, it was the Army for him.

“I initially enlisted as an airborne intelligence analyst,” he explains. “What you do is analyze information, and then you help the commanders make decisions. I went to basic training, an honor graduate, and advanced individual training, where they teach you how to do your job and then Airborne School.”

Today, Williams is best known as the leadership consultant who created the War Forged Leadership course and published the book under the same name. And while learning about leadership might not have been one of his top priorities while on duty, he’s been soaking in everything from day one.

“In the Army, all we do is training and leader development. That’s primarily what we’re focused on,” Williams says. “I’ve had a lot of experience doing that over the years, and it’s something that everybody at work comes to me today.”

From his very early days in the Army, Williams noticed how the disposition of superior leaders affected not only the lives of the soldiers they commanded but also their performance. He decided that, in a leadership position, he wouldn’t become a feared leader or disliked by people. He’d be the type of leader that inspires loyalty.

It took him a while to get there, however. After going to Germany to support the 1st Battalion 10th Special Forces Group and earning the 10th Group Soldier of the Year when he was a private, Williams was made Sergeant and became the targeting analyst for a brigade that took him to combat against ISIS.

“When I returned from Iraq, I was promoted to staff sergeant, married my wife, and then the army accepted me for Green to Gold, so I transitioned from the enlisted side to the officer side over the next two years,” Williams recalls. He went to college and got close to earning a master’s degree in public administration before shipping out to Alaska.

His next shift saw Williams focus more on the nature of leadership. “When deciding to do Green to Gold and going from the enlisted side to the officer side, I looked at many of the leaders around me, and I was like, Man, I could do their job and improve soldiers’ lives,” Williams says. If I’m that guy, I can do more for the people serving in the military.”

From there, it was just a matter of time before Williams decided civilians might need his help, too. So, he started consulting and helping people in leadership positions realize their true potential and learn how to lead humanely and effectively.

“It’s all about helping people for me. Making money is great,” he says. “But having a great reputation is important to me. But at the end of the day, if I can help people, I’ll feel more fulfilled. So that’s really what it’s all about for me.” And as his new book hits the shelves, Williams can only reach more people and give them a fresh new perspective on leadership and their business.