Leader’s Lead – Slacker’s Don’t

When I was in the Army, I was an officer assigned to the S-3 section of our Cavalry Squadron. S-3 is the “Planning and Operations” section of everything going on in the Squadron. We planned almost everything – from flag details to battle plans. I was the assistant S-3 and a Major was assigned as our OIC.

Well, a new Major was assigned to be the OIC of this unit. It was my job to bring him up to speed on everything going on. As I was doing this, he began to belittle all of the plans which were well underway. He was criticizing several of the plans (which were approved by the Squadron Commander as well). That was “key #1” that there were going to be problems.

About six months into his “command,” I noticed that he would try to ride the high points, making sure he was observed as being in charge. But when it came to the late nights prior to a major report or operations order to be ready, he was nowhere to be seen. Even during maneuvers, he would have an excuse to not spend as much time out in the mud with everyone else.

One day, I guess it was showing on my face. A fellow officer came by my desk and told me, flat-out, that everyone (meaning the command staff and line officers) knew that “I was the one actually running the S-3 shop” and to “keep my head up – I had their support.” That made me feel a little better, knowing others were seeing what I was observing as well.

How does that help YOU?

In your business, if you are the “leader” – then you need to be present when everything is getting dirty. When your subordinates are in the middle of a major project for your “team” – YOU need to be involved as well.

Next, do not nit-pick at the plans that are already underway. If you need to give additional guidance, do so. But do not just throw out all the plans, especially the ones that are underway in their implementation! If you were not there to “make the call” when it was needed, support your supervisors that had to make the call in your absence.

Finally, never, never, NEVER accept the praise and accolades for a job well done. You must, at all times, praise your team and give your team credit for every win. EVERY WIN! Yes, you may have jumped in and saved the day… but the credit for the win goes to the TEAM. Every single time!

If there is any blame for a poorly performed task or job, never, never, NEVER put the blame on the team (and especially never point fingers at a member of the team) or a supervisor under you. You, as the leader of the team, should accept total responsibility for every failed task concerning your team. Every single one!

“Well, that sounds unreasonable! I should not have to accept responsibility for something when somebody else clearly failed to do their job!”

“YES, you should!”

Most people will know that it is not your fault. But by you standing up and taking responsibility for the poor performance of “your team,” your credibility will rise for those who see it and your team will begin to develop more loyalty towards you! By you running interference for your team, they will begin to run interference for you, but doing a better job.

This stuff really works! What I am sharing with you takes some people years to figure out.

Why does this work?

Because it is called “being a leader.” Do not fall into the category of leaders that just want the recognition and to have people see them give orders. Do not fall for the trap of “I tell people what to do – and they do it.”

Instead, work with your team. Become another member of the team. Someone they can count on to make the “right decision at the right time.” Someone they know will have their back if things do not work out. Someone they can look at and try to emulate.

Leader’s Lead – Slacker’s Don’t!

Don’t be a slacker!