When I first started learning to talk, my parents taught me an important lesson about great leadership. They taught me to be gracious. Whenever someone did something nice for me, they would look down at me and ask, “What do you say?”
And I would reply “Thank you.”
I don’t think my experience is much different from that of other leaders when they were children. Somehow, though, many of us discarded this lesson. We quit being gracious along the way, and started expecting people to do for us without saying “thank you” in return.
When we fail to exhibit gratitude, those who work for us take that as thanklessness, and our organizations suffer. When people aren’t happy, they start to give less and less to the organization. They no longer want to “buy in” to the mission.
By Gary Klein
At some point in time, all of us have written for school, our jobs, or publication. However, chances are, most of us have done this alone. Admittedly, writing by yourself simplifies the process of prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing; but writers do not need to forge this path alone. Writing with others (aka coauthoring) has its benefits, but there are challenges as well. This article will briefly discuss some of the benefits and challenges of coauthoring while outlining a way to facilitate collaborative writing and overcome some of these challenges.
Benefits and Challenges of Coauthoring
Writing enables critical and creative thinking, learning, and leader development; but as From the Green Notebook previously highlighted, we can also sharpen our ideas and enhance our learning by engaging in discussion with others. Our connections and network can challenge us intellectually, provide different perspectives, and enhance our learning. Combining the benefits of writing and our network, coauthors provide additional ideas, experiences, and perspectives that stimulate discussion and facilitate synthesizing diverse ideas.
By Ryan Kenny
When you look back at your contributions throughout your career what will matter most to you? How will you judge yourself and expect to be judged? Too often, as leaders, we do not ask ourselves these simple questions throughout our everyday lives. We wait until the end. Then we examine the tough questions. Did I do all I could? Did I put enough energy in the right areas? Did I make a difference? Instead, we should pose this question all the time.
What will be your legacy and how will you achieve it?
By: Liz Schloemann
There are times as leaders when you expend a lot of effort on a project, a plan, or in some cases, a person. You spend weeks to months building up to the perfect pivotal moment of success, when your effort comes to fruition. You just know that it’s going to work because every detail has been captured and every variable accounted for. And then, just before the inevitable success, it happens. Your train gets derailed. Someone tells you the plan has changed. The boss is canning your project. The person you were trying to help hits rock bottom.
You are stunned. How can all that effort and time be completely wasted? And yet, as a leader, you must adapt to change. You tell yourself you can make a course correction, that your work can still be salvaged. You pull yourself up by the bootstraps and prepare to dig in, ready to expend even more energy on something that cannot be recovered.
As Newton’s first law of motion states, an object in motion will stay in motion unless impeded by an external force. Similarly, you feel like you must keep going. After weeks or months of working toward your goal, you find yourself on auto-pilot. You have deep-rooted values that prevent you from capitulating.
The best leaders, however, will recognize when it’s time to “Chuck it in the f*ck it bucket”, even when you have sunk so much energy into something with no results. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away, and instead of trying to salvage the unsalvageable, save yourself. Save your time and energy for something that will produce results. Failure bites, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Accept it, learn from it, and move on to face your next challenge.
Back in the fall, I read an advanced copy of Radical Inclusion: What the Post-9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership, and couldn’t put it down. In 173 pages, General Dempsey and Ori Brafman challenged me to become a better leader. Thankfully, I got a chance to ask them a few questions about teamwork, leadership in the 21st century, and some recommended reading.
JOE: The two of you come from radically different backgrounds, yet you’ve worked together on several projects throughout the years. What have you learned about the importance of connecting outside of your professional circles?
ORI: It could very well be that your average Berkeley student is less likely than to have interacted with a personal in uniform than a civilian in Iraq. But when we have substantive conversations with those outside our circles that aren’t bogged down by politics or platitudes, we find that our core beliefs are much more similar than we could have expected. Getting the other’s perspective allows us to have not only a broader but a more accurate perspective of the world. We’re humbled that even the City of Berkeley has declared June 4 Bridging the Military/Civilian Divide Day.
DEMPSEY: You mean the fact that Ori is a Berkeley instructor with a degree in Peace Studies and a Vegan, and I’m…well, none of those things! Actually, we became friends when he offered to help me adapt the Army’s training and education system to address the realities of speed, complexity, and decentralization in our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. From that point, we became mutually-committed to sending the message together that learning is a “team sport.”
By BG Ross Coffman
Defining success as a major in a succinct manner is difficult. Leaders typically serve at this rank for seven years and transition from position to position. Each of these positions require different learning objectives and keys to success. The journeyman years of field grade life enable success in battalion command and beyond. They provide depth and breadth to the leader’s skill set. Let’s explore a few learning objectives and measures of success during each phase of your Field Grade Journey:
By: CSM Samuel C. Rapp and SFC Harlan D. Kefalas
Hey Sir! Welcome to the unit. Whether you are the operations officer or the executive officer, we are going to be working close together. NCOs will do most of the heavy lifting with support from a great group of Soldiers. We would like to offer you some advice from our perspective that will make you successful.
Characteristics of successful field grades from the staff NCO:
Treat your relationship with the operations sergeant major the same as your relationship with your First Sergeant (from your company command days). Especially when it comes to manning. Our team will only be as effective as our slowest rower. In turn, the sergeant major will support you the same as your 1SG did.
By Scott Shaw
So you’re in the Staff College, on the Division Staff, or just about to take that Iron Major position. CONGRATULATIONS! You’re about to assume a very important role. Majors run Brigade Combat Teams and Brigade Combat Teams are what accomplish our Army’s missions. Now, let’s get to work because that’s what field grade officers do.
I have been asked many times, “How can I best interact with my battalion commander?” Commanding through commanders, as battalion commanders do, is much different than the mostly direct leadership style of company command. Many field grade staff officers struggle in their ability to transition from that direct style of leadership to being able to support their commander as he or she “commands through commanders.” In this post, I will describe a few methods that worked for me and may lead you to success with you battalion commander.
By Josh Powers and Joe Byerly
In many organizations, the letters “MDMP” will send staff officers running. The process can be painful and daunting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As field grade officers, we control the planning timeline and we synchronize the staff.
We both served as the battalion and brigade level, and we picked up some lessons along the way that takes some of the pain out of the planning process and make it another routine staff exercise.
Set expectations. In reality, the process of MDMP is more important than the product it yields. The MDMP enables a conversation between commander, staff, and subordinate units if executed effectively. As a field grade officer, your job is to create a quality product, an operation, by managing this process. To do this effectively takes countless repetitions, all while gaining and losing staff officers.
By Jim King
One of the benefits of being an Observer Controller/Trainer (OC/T) is that we get to stand with one leg in doctrine and the other in reality. We learn the theory, but then watch countless units fight it out in the Mojave desert, moving theory into practice. As an OC/T, I watched 34 field grades lead their staffs in the military decision-making process (MDMP). Below, are some of my observations that new majors can use to bridge the gap between doctrine and practice and make their units more successful in planning.
For the uninitiated, MDMP may be considered a four letter word. Most junior majors know the steps but are unsure how to make the process work for them. This article summarizes MDMP, noting divergence between theory and practice.