Traits of the Very Best Leaders

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Spoiler: It’s also the opposite of every drill sergeant stereotype and other incompetent leaders in the military.

Google’s research is in line with the Disciplined Disobedience approach that the Army is supposed to be following but very personnel actually do.

1. Be a good coach.
You either care about your employees or you don’t. There’s no gray zone. If you care, then you’ll invest time and energy to help your employees become better versions of themselves. That’s the first 50 percent of being a good coach.

The other half is knowing you’re a facilitator, not a fixer. Ask good questions, don’t just give the answers. Expand your coachees’ point of view versus giving it to them.

2. Empower teams and don’t micromanage.
Absolutely no one likes to be micromanaged. Research indicates empowered employees have higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment, which reduces turnover and increases performance and motivation. Also, supervisors who empower are seen as more influential and inspiring by their subordinates.

Everyone wins when you learn to let go.

3. Create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.
Individual fulfillment is often a joint effort. People derive tremendous joy from being part of a winning team. The best managers facilitate esprit de corps and interdependence.

And employees respond to managers who are concerned about winning, and winning well (in a way that supports their well-being).

4. Be productive and results oriented.
Take productivity of your employees seriously and give them the tools to be productive, keeping the number of processes to a minimum.

5. Be a good communicator — listen and share information.
The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. It often doesn’t happen because of a lack of effort from both the transmitting and the receiving parties. Invest in communication, and care enough to listen.

Former CEO of Procter & Gamble A.G. Lafley once told me his job was 90 percent communication–communicating the next point especially.

6. Have a clear vision/strategy for the team.
With no North Star, employees sail into the rocks. Enroll employees in building that vision/strategy, don’t just foist it on them. The former nets commitment, the latter compliance. And be prepared to communicate it more often than you ever thought you could.

7. Support career development and discuss performance.
The best managers care about their people’s careers and development as much as they care about their own. People crave feedback. And you owe it to them.

People don’t work to achieve a 20 percent return on assets or any other numerical goal. They work to bring meaning into their lives, and meaning comes from personal growth and development.

8. Have the expertise to advise the team.
Google wants its managers to have key technical skills (like coding, etc.) so they can share the “been there, done that” experience. So be there and do that to build up your core expertise, whatever that might be. Stay current on industry trends and read everything you can.

9. Collaborate.
In a global and remote business world, collaboration skills are essential. Collaboration happens when each team member feels accountability and interdependence with teammates. Nothing is more destructive for a team than a leader who is unwilling to collaborate. It creates a “it’s up to only us” vibe that kills culture, productivity, and results.

10. Be a strong decision maker.
The alternative is indecision, which paralyzes an organization, creates doubt, uncertainty, lack of focus, and even resentment. Strong decisions come from a strong sense of self-confidence and belief that a decision, even if proved wrong, is better than none.

https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/google-tried-to-prove-managers-dont-matter-instead-they-discovered-10-traits-of-very-best-ones.html

Fixing the Army’s Broken Culture

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Military elements often retain a degree of tradition, sometimes to their detriment and well past any meaningful use. Examples include the foolish and ineffective approach that initial entry training (“basic”) continues to be conducted and long-obsolete and useless holdovers such as drill and ceremony. I’ll begrudge an exception to D&C for personnel formally directed to conduct a tattoo while also pointing out the general fraud, waste, and abuse of such pompous displays.

Things like this are continued under the false guise of instilling discipline and learning how to pay attention to detail despite no evidence that they accomplish either:

http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/styles/lewin_style.htm
http://www.kurt-lewin.com/leadership-styles.shtml

Kurt Lewin’s research on leadership and group dynamics indicates an over-bearing authoritative approach typified by the drill sergeant stereotype may be the worst way to lead people in many situations, especially if you want them to be capable of thinking and leading on their own one day. Test groups can revert to even worse undisciplined behavior than those put into laissez-faire control groups when the authority figure is removed. If you enforce babysitting measures upon personnel as the only means of enforcing discipline, then you’ll have to always and forever ensure a babysitter is present.

Forward-thinking leaders have commented on the need to break obsolete and detrimental traditions, even directing that future leaders must be able to function under disciplined disobedience.

Here are some examples:

https://soflete.com/blogs/knowledge/surfers-hippies-hipsters-and-snowflakes-counterculture-in-sof

https://www.army.mil/article/187293/future_warfare_requires_disciplined_disobedience_army_chief_says

Traits of the best leaders/managers (hint, it’s the opposite of the drill sergeant stereotype and what every bad “leader” does)
https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/google-tried-to-prove-managers-dont-matter-instead-they-discovered-10-traits-of-very-best-ones.html

Future warfare requires ‘disciplined disobedience,’ Army chief says

“I think we’re over-centralized, overly bureaucratic, and overly risk-averse,” Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said while speaking at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C., as part of the Atlantic Council Commanders Series.

Leaders on the battlefield could expect to be out of contact with their own leadership for significant periods of time. Those officers would still need to accomplish their commander’s objectives, even when the conditions on the battlefield change and they are unable to send word up the chain of command.

“We are going to have to empower [and] decentralize leadership to make decisions and achieve battlefield effects in a widely dispersed environment where subordinate leaders, junior leaders … may not be able to communicate to their higher headquarters, even if they wanted to,” Milley said.

In that environment, Milley said, the Army will need a cadre of trusted leaders on the battlefield who know when it’s time to disobey the original orders they were given and come up with a new plan to achieve the purpose of those orders.

“[A] subordinate needs to understand that they have the freedom and they are empowered to disobey a specific order, a specified task, in order to accomplish the purpose. It takes a lot of judgment.”

Such disobedience cannot be “willy-nilly.” Rather, it must be “disciplined disobedience to achieve a higher purpose,” Milley said. “If you do that, then you are the guy to get the pat on the back.”

Milley said that when orders are given, the purpose of those orders must also be provided so that officers know both what they are to accomplish and how they are expected to accomplish it.

More:
https://www.army.mil/article/187293/future_warfare_requires_disciplined_disobedience_army_chief_says

None of this is new. This formal 1978 study Military Self-Discipline: A Motivational Analysis reveals the same things
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a055017.pdf

Worst of all, despite having formal, studied, decades-old evidence that a self-discipline approach selects for and produces better outcomes than an overbearing, authoritative approach, there is NO formal evidence that the current model provides any benefit.

The topic of leadership has been extensively studied in a range of occupational settings. Findings indicate that employee ratings of leaders predict occupational outcomes such as job turnover, satisfaction, and performance in both military and civilian occupational settings.

Approximately 72,000 soldiers go through Army BCT in the United States each year (http://www.jackson.army.mil/sites/info/) … [A]lthough there are several possible leadership qualities that could be displayed by Drill Sergeants, from being harsh and demanding to mentoring and motivating, there have been NO studies that have systematically assessed Drill Sergeant characteristics. [emphasis added]

Trainee Perceptions of Drill Sergeant Qualities During Basic Combat Training was published in 2013. The Department of Army spends money to send 72,000 new recruits through initial entry “basic” training every year and has done so for many decades but has never bothered to study if the established approach is effective.

Despite the hallucinations of personnel imagining that the stereotypical drill sergeant approach is “necessary” or even useful, there is no evidence for it. Some managers have noted that running a busy restaurant may be an ideal way to develop leaders:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/if-you-can-manage-a-waffle-house-you-can-manage-anything-11572667205

What has the Army response to this been? As expected of the illiterate majority, more of the same failed nonsense.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/04/24/army-making-more-drill-sergeants-increase-discipline-ait.html

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2017/11/28/its-official-the-army-is-bringing-drill-sergeants-back-to-ait/

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