For this blog I seek to not only highlight the need for making your team sense and experience their value and your belief in them, but 2 quick examples from my military days that illustrate this. In short, if you as a manger have the unilateral belief that your job is simply to dictate to your team and their only responsibility is to obey your every word and their belief or connection is irrelevant, you are missing the boat. Leadership connects with your team and makes them aware of your belief in them. Let me simply offer two examples.
In my Air Force career a bit over 30 years ago and just before I was promoted to the rank of Major, I volunteered to fill a role deployed internationally in a real world counter-drug operation as an acting deployed Intelligence Officer. The role had me staying abreast of the intelligence and briefing flight crews as well as debriefing the flight crews and then writing reports after missions flown about the results and such. However, I also want to call out one thing I did.
After one weekend where some real success was had in the missions, I called the NCO IC Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge of the maintenance crews who took care of the fighter jets. I asked him and he said they had a morning briefing for all of them each morning and I asked if I could just meet with them for no more than 5 minutes and he welcomed me coming by.
When he turned it over to me, I told the crews that “…nothing about what I will say is Classified and if a question requires a classified answer, I will not acknowledge it”. I also told them that “although none of this is classified, do not share this outside of this room even though not classified because of some drug underling hears it….realize they will not go after you to control, they may go after your family so to protect your families, say nothing outside of this room.”
I then looked at the members in the room and said “Your efforts have prevented XXXXX (and I stated the number) number of pounds of drugs from entering the US just for this weekend alone! You are making a difference”. That is all I said but after my 3-5 minutes, the NCO IC came up to me and said “Sir, thank you so much for this morning. No one has ever done this for us and I could see the appreciation in my crew's faces. This was valuable!”
When I was flying a Learjet as a DOD Strategic Air Defense Training Contractor, we I, as a Captain had flown over to Keflavik Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland. For the next 2 weeks we and one other Learjet from our company were going to be working with the Air Defense Unit stationed there. However, the night we arrived was the very first night where Desert Storm kicked off. We were going to sleep until someone mentioned it and we all got up to see the initial reports. The key point is that we had a 4:00 AM briefing time and we all sat in the mass briefing room with our two crews and fighter pilots as well as AWACS crews. Before the briefing started, the Operation Head said, “Before we get started gentlemen, the commander wants to say a word”. We knew what it was about.
He called the room to attention and we all stood to attention. The Commander walked in and said “Seats Gentlemen”. He stepped to the podium and simply said “Gentlemen, I think you all know that it kicked off last night….I simply want to tell you that the 1st wave is back and everyone made it back safe….” There was a collective sigh throughout the room. It was awesome that the commander realized the value of sharing that.
So, let me ask you?
In what ways are you sufficiently making your team believe in their value and also your appreciation for them?
In what ways does your team FEEL that about you?
What do you need to do differently?
– Randy Swaim, Coaching for Relevance, LLC