Thanksgiving and the Benefits of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds us to pause and be thankful for the blessings in our lives.  There are many benefits to being grateful that range from the scientific to spiritual realms. Forbes magazine article points out that science has demonstrated physical and mental benefits of being grateful. These include better health, sleep, and self-esteem.  Being grateful also improves your humility and enables you to focus on and serve others.

Thanksgiving

 

Over the past few years, I’ve identified 3 major parts of my life that I am thankful for.

Family

Each day, I take the time to be thankful for my wife and kids and record that emotional fact daily in my journal.  I’m also thankful for my mother, sister, and my wife’s family, many of whom who have been by our side and helped us greatly through times of hardship and joy in the journey of life. From births to birthdays, to hospitalization, and death, our family has always been there without fail.

 

Profession

I’m also thankful for the opportunity to serve my country and its people.  Serving in the military alongside some great Americans and being a part of something greater than yourself is extremely rewarding. This holds true even during the times that the call of duty takes you far away from home.

 

2nd Chance at Life

A few years ago, I had a near-fatal parachuting accident (occupational hazard-see above) that changed my perspective on life. A close call with death in which you have no control leaves you extremely vulnerable. That vulnerability led me to understand that I must rely on others to make it in this world.  Interdependence makes life more enjoyable than self-reliance, which is an area that I still try to improve in my life.

 

Near-death experiences seem to have an immediate benefit of being able to identify what’s truly important in life.  Since my accident, I’ve made changes in how I eat, sleep, and where I spend my time.

 

I’m not sure why God spared my life and extended my time on this Earth, but I assume it is for a purpose.  I try to dedicate each remaining day I have to try to seek out and fulfill that purpose.

 

Regardless of our current situation, most of us can find something to be unhappy about. Conversely, and more importantly, there is also always something to be grateful for.  There are more benefits to viewing the world from a perspective of gratitude. The benefits include bringing joy to other people as well as being happier yourself. Give it a try not only on Thanksgiving but throughout the year to see a difference in your life.

 

Question: What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

 

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Photo Credit: A Marine greets his family at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., Nov. 21, after returning from a seven-month deployment. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Terry Haynes III.

How to Deliver Bad News to Your Boss

4 Items That Will Make a Tough Conversation Easier

Have you ever agonized over having to deliver bad news to your boss?  The sinking feeling of having a pit in your stomach doesn’t help you want to pick up the phone to make that call. I know I’ve personally had some angst when faced with this situation.

Delivering Bad News

 

As a young company commander in charge of over 180 soldiers, I had a soldier get a DUI a week after another one of my soldiers tested positive for drug use.  I knew I had to call my boss, but was concerned about the phone call, as this was the second incident in a week.  My gut told me that these incidents would reflect poorly on my leadership abilities. I privately wondered if this would start me down the road of being replaced prematurely or even fired. Having the worst case scenario in my head, I sat at my desk staring at my phone.

 

Bad Thing Will Likely Happen Under Your Watch

It’s inevitable.  Bad things will happen while you are in charge. It doesn’t matter how good you are. Unfortunate events occur on nearly everyone’s watch.  It took me years to realize this. Once I did, I also realized that it’s not the event itself that matters as much as how you respond to the event. When bad things happen, you will need to deliver bad news.

 

Report Bad News ASAP

Unlike wine, bad news does not get better with time.  The opposite is true. Bad news actually gets worse with time, which means you need to deliver bad news in a timely manner.  Here are four items to keep in mind and help guide you through that dreaded conversation. Prepare for the conversation with these four items to have a better experience.

 

4 Items That Will Make a Tough Conversation Easier

  1. Report What You Know. This can easily be done with a 5 Ws format (Who, What, Where, When, and Why).
  2. Report What You Don’t Know. Inevitably, there will be information gaps that will require time to develop the situation. Figure out the pieces of information that you don’t know. This requires you to step back from the situation to gain perspective on the information you need, but don’t yet have.
  3. Report What You Are Doing About the Situation. Identify how you are trying to fill the information gaps and your plan of action is to work towards resolving the situation.
  4. Inform your Boss what resources or assistance you need. You may not be able to handle everything yourself. Be sure to handle items that are appropriate at your level, but also don’t be afraid to tell the boss what you need or how he or she can help you.  This requires maturity in determining what you can’t or shouldn’t do for yourself.

 

At the end of the day, you can’t control bad luck or nor can you always prevent unfortunate incidents.  You can, however, choose how you respond to bad news. Done correctly, you will set the example for your team on how to handle the situation. Done incorrectly and you will show your team how NOT to handle stressful situations.

 

Question: What tips do you have for delivering bad news?

 

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Photo Credit: An airman calls in a medical report while airmen prepare to evacuate a simulated patient during a tactical combat casualty care class at the New Jersey National Guard’s Joint Training and Training Development Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Sept. 27, 2017. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht

Giving Thanks on Veterans Day

Veteran’s Day is typically a time when people thank those who have served and those who continue to serve in the military.  This is typically done with either a simple statement of “Thank you for your service” or even gesture of thanks via a free meal or other benefits on Veteran’s Day.  However, Veteran’s Day can also be an opportunity for our Veteran’s to demonstrate their gratitude for the opportunity to serve as well.

Thanks

 

Serving our military provides various benefits that should be acknowledged by our service members and veterans. These benefits include the act of service in itself, the opportunity to maintain a level of fitness, and the ability to exercise leadership to name a few.

 

Serving Something Greater Than Yourself

There is a great feeling pride instilled in those who serve something greater than oneself.  The opportunity to serve our great nation and its people is a true benefit that we may sometimes overlook.  Service not only applies to our nation but extends to the men and women that serve to our left and right.  This service falls in line with my personal belief in why I am on this Earth; to serve our Creator and other people.

 

Physical Fitness

Not many professions offer its people the opportunity to exercise during the workday.  Not only does the military afford you the opportunity to exercise but requires it.  This inevitably means that our work days tend to extend into the 12-hour range, but the benefits of physical fitness extend into old age.

 

Leadership

Many corporations don’t offer formal leadership training to its employees or new managers. By contrast, the military provides leadership training in two ways: formal leadership training and leadership by example.  The military offers some of the best examples of leadership in the world.  Military service provides formal leadership training and the opportunity to work in a “lead by example” culture, which provides a great environment to work in.  The military generally doesn’t allow leaders to simply “talk the talk”, but requires them to “walk the walk” as well.

 

Giving Thanks

This year, when someone thanks you for your service, I challenge you to thank them in return. Also, stop to take a moment to be thankful for the opportunity to serve our military.  The military has provided you with the opportunity to defend and serve our nation, its people, and your brothers and sisters who served alongside you, while also forcing you to be physically fit in a culture of leadership. Being thankful provides a lifelong benefit of its own.

 

Question: What benefits have you experienced from serving our military?

 

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Photo Credit: A veteran holds an American flag in formation during a Veterans Day Ceremony, Nov. 10, 2017, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2017. Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9555 took part in the ceremony. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Donald Hudson.

One Phrase that Gives You Freedom of Action

Have you ever find yourself waiting for your boss’ approval before you can move forward with a project?  If you’ve been in this boat, there’s one phrase that you can start using to gain some freedom of action at work.

freedom

I’ve had a boss that was extremely deliberate in his decision making.  He was so deliberate that it felt like he was slowing me down.  The problem was that I was constantly waiting for him to get the OK to continue to do my job. Many interpreted his deliberate style as just plain slow. The real issue was that my boss felt he needed to make every decision in order to add value to the organization, which was not necessarily true. He was overwhelmed with the number of decisions he felt he had to make.

I felt I knew in which direction we needed to go and what we needed to do to get there.  My boss, on the other hand, constantly hesitated in making decisions, which frustrated me. I felt like a saddled horse, being slowed down and just wanted to break loose and sprint.

 

Command By Negation

After months of frustration, I realized that there was a way I could help my boss out while gaining greater latitude in my job. This idea came from a concept borrowed from the U.S. Navy known as “command by negation.”  The practice is outlined in the U.S. Naval Officer’s Guide, which states, “commanders report their intention to their superior officer, noting that the action will be taken UNless Otherwise DIRected (UNODIR) and provide a continual stream of information to the superior officer, who is not required to sign off on the plan or execute it, but only gets involved if the superior objects.”

There is one simple phrase that you can start using today to break free of any constraint while, giving your boss a vote at the same time.

UNODIR:  Unless Otherwise Directed…

The phrase “Unless otherwise directed” provides you with a way forward without the wait. An example of using UNODIR is “Unless otherwise directed, I intend to implement the training program we discussed last week.”  This statement demonstrates the intent of the subordinate to take initiative using a training plan that was recently discussed with the boss.  The boss has a chance to change the direction of the team if he disagrees.

 

Why It Works

There are several reasons this one phrase enables you with freedom of movement to get your job done in a timely manner.

  1. Initiative. First of all, it allows you to take initiative. You are not waiting to be told what to do, but instead, you are outlining how you intend to generate action from the bottom up.
  2. Intention instead of Permission. It practices the principle of “Intent Based Leadership” made popular by David Marquet. You are explaining what you intend to do, instead of asking permission. Asking permission will generally slow down the decision cycle.
  3. Gives Your Boss the Option to Say “No.” Your boss is still in control as she has the opportunity to stop you or say no. Taking initiative and providing your boss with intent does not mean that you are rogue and running wild. You are still giving your boss a vote.
  4. Faster decision making. Decisions will naturally be faster as your boss’ option to say no or adjust your plan has an expiration date. The phrase is not an ultimatum but merely explains that if your boss objects they have a limited window to make that correction or objection.

Results = Freedom of Action

When I started using this phrase, I was surprised at the results.  I had a greater level of autonomy to go in the direction I thought we needed to go, while my boss still had a voice in the matter.  My boss felt as though he had fewer decisions to make and rarely ever provided direction that varied my plan.

In order to use this phrase and technique effectively, you should have some street cred built with your boss first. If you are not a known quantity, it will be tougher to implement the idea.  Try using “Unless Otherwise Directed” today and see if you can gain more latitude while working within your boss’ intent. It may make your collective organization faster as you work together with fewer decision chokepoints.

 

Question: What steps have you taken to get more latitude in your job?

 

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Photo Credit: Sailors aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem man the rails as the ship enters port in Busan, South Korea, Oct. 21, 2017. Stethem is operating as part of the Ronald Reagan Strike Group in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy Graham

Empower Your Team with One Simple Question

Have you ever found yourself frustrated with subordinate team members who bring you their problems? Have you ever asked yourself, “How can I empower my team to be self-directed problem solvers?”

Empower Your Team

A few years ago, as an Executive Officer and Chief of Staff, I found myself flustered with subordinate leaders who seemed to bring me problems to solve for them.  I found myself helping them with organizational issues in their areas of specialty throughout the workday. Eventually, 5 pm would roll around and things would quiet down to a point that I could finally get my own work done. This traditionally meant that I missed dinner with my family. I knew there had to be a better way.

The Quest

Determined to find a solution, I started to analyze these issues. I looked at the root causes of the problems that led to daily emergencies. I knew that understanding the cause of these emergencies would help me find a solution.

The following days were spent asking questions to understand how we got to a specific problem.  What were the underlying conditions? Who was responsible? How can we prevent this from happening again?

Why People Bring You Problems

As I looked deeply at the issues that troubled my team, my first realization was that whether you are in the military, the corporate world, or in any industry that involves human interaction, problems will arise.  My second discovery was that I, in fact, was a big reason that my team brought me problems instead of solutions. The reason people brought me problems was because I enabled their behavior.  I did this in two ways:

  1. I attempted to add too much value. Marshall Goldstein discusses this phenomenon in his book “ “>What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”  Goldstein states, “A classic problem of smart, successful people is Adding Too Much Value. This bad habit can be defined as the overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion…It is extremely difficult for successful people to listen to other people tell them something that they already know without communicating somehow that (a) they already knew it and (b) they know a better way.”  The Military Leader’s Drew Steadman also speaks to this issue in his blog post Adding Too Much Value.
  1. By consistently solving every problem brought to my attention, I trained my staff to rely on me and bring me issues for a quick fix. This meant that I wasn’t giving them an opportunity to figure it out on their own first.

Once I understood my role in the problem, I quickly realized that I could change the situation as well.  I discovered that a simple question empowered my team and put them at the center stage.

There is one simple question that you can start asking today to empower your team members and get them in the habit of bringing you solutions instead of problems.

What’s Your Recommendation?

Asking your team members for their recommendation, empowers them and transforms their thinking into that of a problem-solver.  This simple question moves your employee to the driver’s seat instead of just being a passenger.

How One Question Empowers Your Team

There are several reasons this one question transforms your employees from merely reporting problems up the chain to an active member in the issue.

  • Gives Voice. The question gives your team members a voice in the issue.  Over time this voice will grow from one with an opinion on a specific problem to a voice that helps improve the organization.
  • Provides Agency. Being asked for a recommendation gives your team member a stake in the matter. They now have “skin in the game” as they are now part of the solution.
  • Instills Ownership. Having agency gives people ownership of the topic. Once your team members “own” the issues they come across, they will work feverishly to not only solve them but look for ways to prevent them in the future.
  • Expectation. This question implies that you expect your team to be part of the solution, which transforms them into a group of problem solvers.

Once I started asking this question, I saw a change in my team over time.  At first, they struggled with an answer but came to the see solutions as we discussed the problem.  Soon my team came to be prepared with a recommendation in hand.  And later they informed me that there was an issue, but that they had solved it with a specific course of action.

This one simple question empowered the team and transformed them into being proactive problem solvers.  This question can work for you and your team too. Give it a try.

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Question: How do you empower your team?

Photo Caption: Staff Sgt. Kyle Law and Staff Sgt. Joshua Jorgensen, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron crew chiefs, consult a technical order to troubleshoot a C-130H Hercules engine problem. They are at Bagram Air Field, Parwan province, Afghanistan, Oct. 6, 2013. Hercules aircrew from the 774th EAS delivered 32 cargo bundles during two trips to remote drop zones in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. Law, a San Antonio, Texas, native, and Jorgensen, a Brentwood, Calif., native, are deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. (USAF Photo/Master Sgt. Ben Bloker)

Battalion Command Lessons Guidebook

Lessons Learned over a Two Year Command

If you are you getting ready to take battalion command or you are already in command, then this command lessons learned guidebook is for you.

Battalion Command Lessons Learned

 

This product was put together by my friend Scott Shaw, who recently commanded 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry at 3rd Infantry Division.  He took the time to create this file to help current and future battalion commanders across the Army.

 

Overview

This 30-page document shares lessons learned from over two years of command and is broken down into easy-to-read sections:

  • The first 6 months
  • The first year
  • The second year of command

Scott also included new officer initial counseling, which he conducted either one-on-one in his office or during physical training. There is a section with LTC Shaw’s guidance to his field grade officers and company commanders.

If you read nothing else, please read these first few pages as they cover the most important and top 5 lessons learned in command.

You can review, download, and share this document with anyone who you think will benefit from it.  The worst lesson to learn is one that someone else learned earlier.

Thank you for sharing Scott!

 

Access the PDF by clicking the link below:

Battalion Command Lessons Learned

 

You can also find Battalion Command Lessons Learned on our resources page.

 

Question: What lessons have you learned in command?

Please reply in our comments section and share this post so that others may benefit.

 

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3 Blogs that Will Improve Your Leadership

In addition to reading articles on Developing Your Team, you can check out great content at the sites listed below.  These are sites that I regularly read and subscribe to and wanted to share them with you as I’ve enjoyed the perspectives and ideas gained from these sites and think that you will too.

 

Business Leadership

Michael Hyatt. Michael Hyatt is a former CEO and Chairman of a book publishing company whose site focuses on business leadership, personal productivity, and personal growth.  Michael’s goal is to help you win at work and succeed at life.  Michael’s content is extremely insightful and highly recommended.  After benefitting from his content, I subscribed to Michael’s blog and podcast on iTunes ( the first podcast I subscribed to). I found Michael’s site through the next site.

 

Military Leadership

The Military Leader.  The Military Leader was the first blog site I subscribed to. It is hosted by an active duty Army officer who is a friend of mine. The Military Leader focuses on leadership from a military perspective as the title indicates, and aspires to helps leaders grow themselves and their team. The site not only has great content but has several guest authors who contribute to the site for varying perspective. This is a great site for leaders in the military.

 

Family Leadership

Mark Merrill.  Mark Merrill is an author (All-Pro Dad), former NFL player, husband, and father, whose site focuses leadership at home. This site has great articles on marriage, fatherhood, and leadership. I recommend this site to husbands and fathers. Mark’s wife Susan has a similar site for wives and mothers called iMom.com.

 

The original list had a few more sites, but we wanted to provide you with a select few that are the best. Based on your feedback, we can add more in the future.  Feel free to check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Question: What leadership sites or blogs do you recommend?

 

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5 Leadership Lessons Gained from Being a Father

Father’s Day prompts me to pause and be thankful for having a wife and children.  As I look over memories from the last 14+ years of being a father, I am reminded of some great times spent with my children; from playing games like tag and hide-and-go-seek, to going camping, to watching theater performances, or playing hockey in the driveway.  As I reflect on the importance of being a father, I’ve come to realize that fatherhood not only changes one’s life at home but also impacts your leadership style and teaches you five valuable lessons.

Leadership Lessons from Being a Father

Patience

  1. Being a father teaches you to be patient. Our children don’t know as much as we do and are learning how their world works every day. In all honesty, patience is a personal weakness of mine, but I try to improve every day as well.  Patience fosters an environment that promotes learning. This applies not only to life at home, but also applies to the environment at work, which is needed for the next point.

Teaching Moments

  1. Parents teach their children every day, whether we realize it or not. Our children are sponges that absorb the things they see and hear. They have great memories and want to learn as much as they can.  As father’s we need to take the time to intentionally teach our children valuable lessons.  Ordinary moments, like looking up at the stars at night and showing your kids the constellations, can be a teaching moment that leaves a lasting impression. Ordinary events at work can also be used as teaching moments. Instead of dreading your next meeting at work, view it as an opportunity to create a teaching moment and see the impact it has on your outlook.

Reacting to Mistakes

  1. We all learn from our mistakes.  Our children are no different.  The laws of probability make it more likely that our children will make more mistakes. We can choose how to react the next time our kids spill or break something. My natural inclination is to respond with anger (see patience above), but fatherhood has taught me to pause before I respond.  I now realize that the mistake in question can be used to reinforce a lesson and discuss how one could improve. A lesson that will carry with them over time. This not only applies to our children, but with our employees (and bosses) at work.  How we react to certain events and bad news forms others’ perception of us and can build or diminish our credibility.

Role Models

  1. We are role models to our children. Our children are always watching us and learning.  They learn not only from moments when we are at our best, but also include the moments that we are less proud of. None of us are perfect, but our kids not only learn the right things to do from their parents but also learn what not to do from watching us. As Michael Hyatt consistently mentions in his blog, “There’s an old saying about parenting: More is caught than taught.” As fathers, we need to remember that our children will imitate our behavior for good or for bad. Our children will carry some of our behavioral traits into adulthood, just as we carry some of our parents’ behavioral traits (regardless of whether we want to admit it). Our employees at work are always watching their leaders as well. Younger employees see their leaders as successful and will also emulate our behavior to some degree. They too are always watching us and learning.

 Focus on Others

  1. Being a father requires you to focus on the needs of others, especially your family.  When fathers come home from a long day at work, we typically don’t come home and rest on the couch. Fathers are needed to help with homework, practice taking slap shots, or even change a lightbulb. Focusing on the needs of others changes our mindset from one of being focused on oneself to that of being focused on others.  This also applies to our work environment. Being a servant leader is the highest form of leadership, in my opinion. Effective leaders put others’ needs ahead of their own.

Being a father not only brings us joy and great memories.  Fatherhood bears the gifts of teaching us patience, provides us with opportunities to teach our children, reminds us to model appropriate behavior, and provides us with the opportunity serve others. These gifts provide us an opportunity to shape our children into adults. These opportunities don’t only apply at home, but reinforce leadership principles required to shape future generations of leaders at work as well. Enjoy your Father’s Day and remember the impact that you bring as a father and a leader.

2 Questions to Improve Your Team’s Performance

Many leaders want the best performance from their team and their team members.  However, many of us struggle to get the best out of some of our teammates. The solution may not be as difficult as you think.

2 Questions

Two Questions

A few years ago, a mentor of mine described how his boss fully supported him every time they met, which was only once a month. In these monthly meetings, his boss only asked him two questions. These two questions were:

  1. How are you doing?
  2. How can I help you?

Many people will read these two questions and think, “That can’t possibly be all there is to improve my team’s performance.”  The fact is that you can improve your team’s performance with these two questions, but you also should walk the walk and act on the answers to these questions.

These two questions demonstrated that his boss supported him, cared about his team, and had complete confidence in his employees.  Let’s explore what is behind these questions

 

How Are You Doing?

  • Empathy.  The question “How are you doing?” shows that you care about your employee, soldier, or direct report.  In order for the question to have meaning, it must be asked while making eye contact. This question will backfire if you ask it at a superficial level because people can sense insincerity.  You must truly care for your employee’s well-being to have an impact.

 

  • Service. “How are you doing?” also shows that you, as a leader, are present to support and serve your direct report.  Leadership is NOT a one-way street, where employees execute tasks as the boss directs.  True leadership is, in fact, a two-way street in which managers and leaders serve their employees’ needs. Serving your people and taking care of your team defines leadership, not a title or job description.

 

How Can I Help You?

  • Support.  The question “How can I help you?” demonstrates that you not only serve your employees but that you are there to help them succeed.

 

  • Trust.  This question also provides employees with a sense that you have confidence in them and trust their judgment.

 

  • Confidence.  Your confidence in their performance, in turn, gives your employee confidence in themselves.

 

  • Empowerment.  Asking your team members what they need from you to complete their job empowers your employees. They feel that they have more latitude in performing their duties.  Empowerment boosts performance as those that are empowered feel that they have agency in the organization.

 

Conclusion

Nothing motivates people more than knowing that their leaders care about them, support them, and have confidence in them.  Employees are motivated when they trust that their leaders essentially have their back.  Does your motivation when you trust your leaders and they trust you? The same is true for your team members as well.

 

Try asking these two questions of your team members next time you meet with them. Ask with genuine interest and act on the answers.  See what impact it has on your people and your organization.

 

Question:  In what ways do you demonstrate trust and service to your team?

 

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Frame of Reference: Who Do You Work For?

This post was written by a friend who wanted to share some lessons learned from an experience he had in the Army.  Reading his perspective provided me with the realization that you must have a conversation early with a new boss to ensure you both see your duties in the same light. This story was truly eye-opening for me. I typically view my own role as being in service to the organization and its people, not necessarily to my boss as a single individual.

Frame of Reference

Who Do You Work For?

I recently had a chance to catch up with a friend as he was heading to my old job. We discussed a variety of topics. When he asked me, “What was your biggest lesson learned,” my answer surprised me.

With almost no hesitation, I replied, “You first need to determine whether you work for your Commander or do you work for the unit?  And your Commander has to answer that question.”

Frame of Reference

Though these thoughts are directly connected to different “styles of leadership”, I had never given much thought to who I worked for until asked in this conversation. Of all the units, I had ever been a part of in 15 years of service, this question had never entered my mind.  In all my previous experiences, the answer was unequivocal, “you worked for the unit.”

Of course, the Commander was critical in making key decisions, providing guidance, intent, direction, etc. However, we were expected to operate within the Commander’s intent, which included making decisions. In this scenario, every product, meeting, etc. was for the betterment of the unit because the Commander was not entrenched in the day-to-day activities. Instead, the Commander was providing the long-term vision and getting appropriate updates to offer course corrections as appropriate, especially in areas that seemed to be outside of the bounds of the original guidance or intent.

New Paradigm

As we talked, I recalled finding myself in a position where I clearly worked for the Commander, not the unit.

For the first time in my career, everything we did was driven by a single individual. Comments and phrases like “the staff doesn’t make decisions, only Commanders make decisions” became a staple. My previous experiences of operating inside the Commander’s intent and ability to exercise disciplined initiative were no longer valid.

Organizational Impact

The Commander’s battle rhythm became the unit’s battle rhythm. Subordinate units struggled to keep pace with the changing of meetings and events because of the Commander’s dynamic schedule. The staff was only able to achieve marginal results because of the constant state of frenzy and unpredictability. Instead of attempting to solve greater problems for the unit or improve day-to-day operations, we found ourselves saturated with a variety of tasks to collect data that often were not connected to impending decisions.

The culture of the unit began to shift. People were more concerned about getting ahead of the Commander’s questions instead of getting ahead of the unit’s problems. This phenomenon only amplified the frenzy.

There is no doubt that the Commander is in charge. The individual controls the focus of the unit at all times. However, the Commander must also have a deep understanding of our most precious resource, time.

Delegate with Trust

I once had a Commander tell me, Delegate until you feel uncomfortable, then delegate some more. There truly is some power in that statement, because, in the end, it is about trust. Trust that your team is doing the right thing. Trust that people are working to build better solutions today to tomorrow’s problems. Trust that your team knows you have confidence in them and have your support.

 

Question:  So, who do you work for?

 

For another perspective on this topic, see Dominic Caraccilo’s article on micromanagement (https://www.ausa.org/articles/micromanagement-can-cripple-command).

 

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