If I asked you what type of leader you are would you have an answer? If I asked you what principles you lead by would you have that answer??? It’s fine if you don’t but take a second and ask yourself that before you dive into our new series here on “Leadership Principles from the Field”. You may be leading based on principles and you just don’t know it yet, however if you can solidify them then it may help to keep them in the forefront of your brain as a reminder for when you are about to do something stupid 😉 We have three short real life stories to shine some light on the first part in this series.
Oracle Leadership Principle #10:
“Sometimes, in a [leadership] position, you get exactly what you ask for“
This will not be in order but the first time I wrote these down was on my “rite in the rain” notebook, weather worn, beat to shit, scribbled all over, but factual – effective – and taken from the field. This was number 10. The motivation (like most of my military career) to solidify the principles that I operate based on came from having a TERRIBLE command that I had to prove wrong and grow up to be a big boy and be better than them at what they sucked at.
Story 1 – “No Coffee, that’ll show ’em”
This one is the shortest, let’s bang it out first. It comes from the FBI in a book I recently read concerning a new Director taking office and wanting his people to be more “productive”.
“Hoover’s quirks included a ban on drinking coffee on the job and on wearing colored shirts. Drinking coffee conflicted with the image of hardworking supermen who never took a break. As a result of Hoover’s dictum, agents would take time off from work to search for a coffee shop instead of drinking coffee at their desks.” – Excerpt From: Ronald Kessler. “The Secrets of the FBI.”
This principle of mine is tongue in cheek. Hoover asked for people to not drink coffee on the job…. they didn’t, so he got what he asked for. The “ask” part of this principle doesn’t mean the results you want, it means the orders you issue. You can WANT a fucking unicorn farting rainbows, you can ORDER people to design a unicorn gene to plug into horses DNA strands. What you will GET is people wasting their fucking time. See? You don’t necessarily get what you want, you get the real life “product” of your command decisions. And while you want your decisions to have a certain action and result, that’s fucking cute…from a desk. Don’t forget that your people are people too (another principle for later).
I can’t TELL you how many times in my military command we played this bullshit ping pong game of instituting a new “policy” to have a desired effect, and the workers would find a work around, so the command would institute another policy to change our actions, and we would find another work around. Usually these policies were not designed to help us fulfill the mission, and they were not to protect the operators doing the mission, and were almost always not fucking related to the mission AT ALL.
Story 2 – The Leftovers
This one comes from personal experience. Let’s say you are in charge of either a police department or a big bad ass government agency (FBI, CIA, USMS, ATF, DEA… blah blah blah). It is 2017 now. We HAVE the technology, for almost no money spent, to get off our asses and go find people we want to hire that are very high quality and will make our agency a better more effective agency (even though most departments don’t do this). But fine. We find a candidate, he walks into our agency and asks for a job application packet (which is usually full of bull shit questions that have nothing to do with being an operator but have to do with protecting the agency). He runs home in a 4 minute mile while doing calculus in his head because he’s a fucking bad ass super genius and we think “Man, this kid is fucking awesome”.
Let’s ALSO say, even though this hardly ever happens, that we process him through an interview, a psych, a lie detector, and a few more hoops. Maybe we get this done in a week. (VERY fucking rare for that to happen). And let’s say that this super applicant is sitting at home now, fully processed. Highly qualified. Would make a GREAT addition. And now he’s sitting on his fucking thumbs at home, no job, no money, and this wait is going to take 6-9 months for an answer.
Guess what mother fucker. If he really is a super genius, how the fuck do you think he is going to pay the bills and where the fuck does that put him 6-9 months from now when you come calling?
This is the way most bureaucracies work in Law Enforcement. In their little a/c offices, with their daily coffee and swivel chair, these people (bureaucrats) think that once applicants get their file in your stack that you are some type of golden God and these people sit at home and worship you and you can move them around like little chess pieces and find the best diversity hire to call up and give the offer to. But in RL, outside your little office, people have lives and they don’t have time for your bullshit. So the high quality applicants go somewhere to make fucking money and you get stuck with whatever is left over after 6-9 months. Great. Mediocre applicants need jobs too… smh
(Sorry for yelling, I’m thinking there’s a pretty good chance YOU are not the idiot in charge of the 9 month long hiring process. But if you are, than fuck you. You actually do need to read this.) xoxo
Story 3 – Human Explosives…kinda
No shit there I was. A room full of excited reservists ready to go on a year long deployment. All in our uniforms. Packed up and waiting for the plane to take us overseas. An E-7 is sitting in the front of the room, facing us while we all sit in our lined up rows of hard ass seats. I swear to your God…. says
“Well guys, the reason we are planning to give you guys hardly any time off in your schedules for this whole deployment is that the command doesn’t want you guys getting into an alcohol related incident. If you can’t drink 12 hours before or after your shift than that only leaves like one or two nights a month that you can actually drink. (And says roughly) [We only wanna give you a small amount of time to decompress]”. -Some E-7
(I know this is an almost verbatim quote because it is written in that same notebook from earlier. I am not that creative, I can’t make this shit up)
I can think of ANOTHER time in government service, when I was Active Duty, where I was sitting in a secure facility with my team of high speed operators and a very knowledgable fella from the FBI explosives division. I was preparing to go to Africa and I was deemed the team’s “Explosive’s Handler”. (Don’t get excited, maybe I’ll tell you THAT sad fucking story some day soon. It’s not as elite as it sounds).
I remember specifically the FBI expert saying about explosives:
“Explosives are so powerful because they so VIOLENTLY decompress in such a SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME”. – FBI guy.
Does this sound familiar? I’m sure it doesn’t to my current command (#notreenlisting) because they have worked us fucking ragged on this deployment… aka they have ASKED (ORDERED) us to work long hours and long days and have BS meetings on our off days which means… it is not a rare sight to see blasting music late at night with drunken, half naked, fist fights and rock throwing with the occasional letting the air out of the tires of the special vehicles that the E-7’s and above get issued to them… because #rank.
“Sometimes as a (leader), you get exactly what you ask for”
Not the same as, but similar to one of my favorite science homeboys Newton “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. In the case of government bureaucracy sometimes you don’t get the action you want, just the reaction.
*Don’t be a hypocrite, don’t be an asshole, treat your people right. This shit ain’t rocket surgery.