Growth in the world begins with growth inside. Good leaders exhibit a moment to moment commitment to become something more than what they are. They read to learn. They engage to be challenged. They listen to be enlightened. Consequently, their followers’ growth is a reflection of that process.
In your quest to become more than you were yesterday, here are a few podcast interviews I’ve listened to lately that made me want to pull over the car and take notes. Enjoy!
Take a look at your unit calendar. Scan the clutter of appointments, meetings, formations, training events, ceremonies, and administrative commitments. Do you see any events dedicated to improving the quality of your people’s leadership? If not…if leadership development isn’t a separate line of effort…then how are you developing leaders?
A U.S. Army Ranger from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, keeps his sight on a target with an M240L machine gun during a company live fire training at Camp Roberts, Calif., Jan. 30, 2014. U.S. Army Photo
Illustration by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade. I like this photo because it’s a reminder that all military leadership boils down to supporting this Soldier on the ground.
There are two types of people who will really like this post. First are the content producers (bloggers, website managers, writers), because I’m going to lay out some really geeky blog stuff. The other people who will enjoy this are those who want to peek behind the curtain of The Military Leader blog. This post is an inside look at everything that I invest and every step that I take to make The Military Leader what it is today. If you’re not a content producer, don’t worry. I’m going to give you a few takeaways right up front. Here we go!
One week spent in a military unit will show you that efficiency isn’t its shining characteristic. Not only does information bombard the unit from multiple levels of the chain of command, but within the organization there are hundreds of conversations taking place to prepare for, synchronize, and execute the myriad of events on the calendar. (And I’m sure the same is true for the business world.)
These conversations happen over thousands of emails, in meetings, face to face, and on the phone. And if your experience is like mine, almost everything goes out over email.
But what if there was a way to customize your conversations based on your team’s requirements instead of relying on the single “channel” that is the email inbox? What if you could have your conversations in the right place, instead of all over the place?
Think back on your recent interactions. If I asked you how many times you made destructive comments towards the people you work with, how would you answer? “Destructive? No way. I’m a nice person. And when I do give feedback, it’s never destructive.” What about if I asked you how many times you talked negatively about someone when he or she wasn’t present? “Well sure, but everyone does that. It’s part of our culture.”
The topic we are approaching here is a silent leadership killer. Who’s leadership, you ask? Yours, your boss’s, your subordinates’. Destructive comments slip into an organization, infect the culture, manifest as other problems, and kill the trust that leaders worked so hard to build.
Today, you’ll be guilty of making comments that can destroy your organization, and you likely don’t even know it.
Command Sgt. Maj. Alan D. Bjerke, command sergeant major of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, speaks to Canadian Soldiers during practice for a live fire event during Cooperative Spirit 2008 at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center near Hohenfels, Germany. Link
Today’s HBR recommendation, “Your Abusive Boss Is Probably an Insomniac,” is a summary of findings from a study published in the Academy of Management Journal. The researchers studied 88 leaders and their teams to find out if the leaders’ sleep habits affected performance at work. The result?…you guessed it, but there’s a twist:
We found that daily leader sleep quality, but not quantity, influenced the leader’s self-control and abusive supervision behavior, and ultimately the degree to which his or her subordinates were engaged in their work that day. It is not clear why sleep quantity did not have the effect we predicted, but the effect for sleep quality was very clear; a given leader engaged in more jerky boss behavior after a poor night of sleep than a good night of sleep, and this influenced his or her subordinates to disengage from work.
Photo by Odi Mitch. Link
Listening to Michael Hyatt’s superb podcast on creating team unity, my first reaction was, “We’re good! The military has got this team alignment thing figured out. We’re focused on the mission, we have a clear command structure, and we follow orders.” But as Michael explained the steps to creating team alignment, he said that to get the most powerful results, leaders must:
Create an environment that is safe for dissent.
Ouch! Ok, that’s not the first phrase most military members would use to describe their work environment. In fact, I think it’s rare that I’ve seen a military leader who embraces dissent in the name of creating unity. I know I’ve never prioritized it.
The result?…we get a team full of Yes Men who not only fail to speak up when they disagree with mundane issues, but are also trained to remain quiet in the face of critical decisions. If you want a team of folks like that, then make sure you do these things.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Caroline Chavez, a senior drill instructor assigned to Platoon 4023, November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, commands her platoon during their final drill evaluation, June 25, 2014, at Parris Island, S.C.
(DoD photo by Cpl. Octavia Davis, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
“Working harder does not equate to being more productive.” Do you feel that military leaders still have not embraced this fact? Do we try to personally do too much? Do we hold on to projects until deadline, trying to get ever closer to perfection?
Listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast on “The Fine Art of Delegation,” I again came to the conclusion that effective delegation is a battle that military leaders and staffs fight on a daily basis.
Michael Hyatt gives 5 Imperatives of Delegation in this podcast, but the real gem of the episode is his description of the 5 Levels of Authority. He simplifies the exercise of authority, which then clarifies how leaders should be delegating.
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno speaks to company-level leaders to discuss leadership
and answer questions during his visit to Wiesbaden, Germany, April 30, 2013.
Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Steve Cortez