There are commanders, who stay at the bridge, setting the example, eating the same as the crew, taking the same risks and sharing the same danger.
There are custodians who are there to keep the lights on, take as much honey from the hive as possible and then leave before the crisis hits, leaving the bees to fend for themselves.
The business world is controlled by either one or the other and the bees know the difference.
I have told people often that leadership is the same in my world as the business world, and this could not be more true today.
The choices we make as leaders will decide who lives and who dies, if the organization will survive or flourish. It all rests on us and the decisions we make today for tomorrow.
The problem has been in the past few thought about what happens if the bottom falls out. Why?
Mostly because short term profit was the goal, make it fast, live for today and the hell with tomorrow. Many in the business don’t plan to stay in any one company for more then 2-3 years, this allows them to make choices they will not be around to witness the impact, a few don’t even care.
Well the time has come to pay the band for all the dancing we have done.
The organizations we lead depend on us to see the impact of today’s choices on tomorrow, easily said and thrown around the board room, but hard to do.
I good general is always asking themselves…. What if the enemy shows up right now, am I ready? What if he moves here or there, am I ready? If the answer to any of these is a question mark then you are not deployed well and must make changes….NOW!
Well we are here and the enemy is now.
Core values are the key for the future as I see it. Shared values that when things get tough, will carry the people and organization thought the storm.
What are yours?
Let’s visit a few from my world and see how they work:
Leading from the front.
This tells a leader that they must be at the point of the spear, in the middle of the fight, not a voice on the radio.
Your examples set the pace for the units future actions.
My father told me when I was first commissioned to be an officer in the Army:
“Son, there will come a time when things look dark, that you and your unit are not going to make it. You can yell orders, blow whistles and wave your hands all you want, but until you get up and move forward the unit will not. You may be killed seconds later, but you must move forward for the unit to survive. “
Well that time is now.
If you are the person at the top of the organization or team, all eyes are on you. If you hide at home and expect people to work, then you are a fool. Loss of a job or money mean little when looking at possible death.
You must make the first move.
Troops eat first.
The troops are the core of the organization, without them we have no organization, period.
Feed them, making sure their mail is on time and that they are paid are the foundation of the demands you make on them.
If you don’t ensure these are done then you will not get what you want from them. They expect things to be hard, they know the facts of life, they know not all of them will be around after the fight… they can except this if you have placed their care in front of all things in the past.
Many times I watched the troops getting their breakfast in the field and when my time came there was only a wet piece of toast and some bacon grease. It’s just the way things are. If the leader is the first in line for chow, they will be first in line for the life boat, people don’t sacrifice for people like that.
Sacrifice is what we are all going to have to do if the organization and us are going to be around tomorrow.
Sacrifice will come in many forms.
Pay will be the first on the table.
They will work for less if you do, they will not do this forever, so you better have a plan to ramp things back up at some point and make that plan clear to all.
Troops will understand if they see you doing the same.
Who has how much right now is not important, who will have something good in the future is!
You must give them the truth all the time. Good news is easy, bad news is even more important.
When times are bad, uncertainty will grow like a cancer. If the troops don’t know the truth, no matter how bad things are, they will invent dragons much bigger then the real one waiting over the hill.
Talk to them, don’t down pay he danger with BS. Lay it out for them, tell them what your plan is and how you see it playing out. Let them know you have considered as many facts as possible and you have the survival of them and unit in mind.
They must have the truth. ALWAYS.
I worked for a company right after leaving the Army and was discussed with the managers in charge.
They thought nothing of writing and email telling all the people that there would be little or no raises this year as the company was pushing through hard times, then publishing another that congratulated the top ten people for their million dollar raises.
Do you think the troops felt like laying it all on the line for that organization?
These are just few of the core values we used.
The Core Values are not words, they are actions we live by. They must be the same at the board room table as they are on the manufacturing floor.
EVERYONE….. must live by them and be prepared to stand the storm with them.
It all comes back to the main question:
Who are you?
This will be the first of six pages like this, as we explore the future and what it will be like.
I still stand firmly behind my beliefs that we will make the future whatever we choose too.
It all depends on how much sweat and blood we are willing to pay to stand on the objective when the smoke clears.