What the Military can teach us about Leadership: Part 2

On Tuesday we began our series on the 15 rules of leadership, originally penned for use by those in the Military over at RangerUp.com (Here), we have taken those rules and translated them for use by business and corporate professionals. What follows are rules 5 through 8, for the first 4 rules check out yesterday’s post and be sure to check in tomorrow for the next set! 

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Rule 5: But it is your Responsibility

Let your teams work, but own the problems as they come up.  You have front line managers and you expect them to manage the day-to-day affairs, you trust them to run their teams as needed and that’s great. Sometimes though there’s going to be a problem, your managers will disagree, management from other departments will see something your managers are doing and try to dig into them for it. Don’t let that happen, don’t be passive, own the problem.

Sure, your guys have been running things since before you came, and likely some will be doing it after you leave but at the end of the day, you’re responsible for how affairs are conducted under your watch.  It’s fine to let your front line managers run things but you need to be the one taking responsibility of any situation that comes up. Remember, own it.  Never forget where your range limits are and never fire outside them.  Your legacy will live on long after you leave and when people are looking for a solution there is nothing more appealing than the easy way.  If you let your team take the unethical road once then they will look for that every time the road gets rough.

Rule 6: Never lie. Period.

Corporate dishonesty is like a plague, it’s insidious and if you don’t actively fight against it you will find that you will participate in it. So just don’t lie, if there’s bad news then break it to the team and be honest about the reason, if you screwed up on a report for a client then own it, and fix it. Nothing will ever get better if you lie about it, I guarantee it. Transparency is a requisite of good business and it’s also a good shield when needed. 

There are very few legitimate reasons to hide what you are doing if what you’re doing is right. Your reputation among groups is the currency your business and your career are built on.  Years of doing the right thing can be burned to the ground with one lie.  If people can’t trust you they won’t work to their full potential for you.  They will always have to devote time and energy to covering themselves rather than going full bore towards the next evolution.

Rule 7: You’re Not Perfect – That’s okay

You’re going to screw up, and when you do it’s likely that money will be lost and its possible people will lose jobs, you know what’s crazy? People get it. Your team doesn’t expect you to be perfect all the time, but what they do expect is when something goes wrong that you own it and tell them, in person if possible.

If you show me someone who has never failed I will show you someone who has never tried for anything truly worthwhile.  We all fail and we all learn more from failures than we do from when we do it right.  Another side effect is people around you see you fail and how you react to that shattering point.  Did you embrace the event or immediately start pointing blame at others?  Did you take it and learn or did you just immediately become an excuse factory? Failure is part of life and unless you have a few shattering points under your belt then your experience is a very fragile thing.

Rule 8: You are always their boss

Everything is going great, you work hard, your guys and gals love you, they work hard, you just gave them a great pep talk after a week of good results and they say “Hey, you should come out for a beer and celebrate with us!”. It’s cool, go ahead and grab a beer, be social but remember that even here you are their boss, there is no magic switch that can be flipped that makes them forget about how you got trashed, and ended up spending the night in the bathroom.  Act accordingly. You need to maintain a certain level of professionalism at all times or else next time you have to reprimand them you’ll find that they take you less than serious.

The military has regulations around this type of thing for a reason.  The leader is the leader is the leader and in case you forgot you’re the leader.  You don’t take from your subordinates in gambling and your job is to ensure their success or survival in some cases.  Its ok to go to birthday parties and BBQs etc. but remember at all times you are their leader.  Your role as the class clown or “that guy” ended when you took a leadership role.

Check in Tuesday for rules 9-12!

Written by Logan and Lino