Leadership Problems in the Field: Accountability

Over the years in my military and law enforcement careers I have developed a set of principles that apply to leadership and training and operating amongst other life avenues. One of my 10 major principles is “Accountability. It’s not rocket surgery.”

Today at my unit someone received an award:

“…went above and beyond contacting another unit to schedule training that otherwise would have been unavailable for his coworkers, thus ensuring them a timely and successful process in which to become fully qualified and work towards their promotion, overseeing and mentoring several of his peers and subordinates”.

Ok. Well as much as I think many military awards are BS this one is a little different. The person that received the award was NOT the person that actually did any of that. A friend of mine was sitting outside his shitty trailer that he, and all of us, live in on base, sulking. He contacted a visiting unit to see if they would allow us to utilize their platform for training. He spent COUNTLESS hours late at  night both while on duty and on his own free time, without being told, to help mentor his friends and coworkers. He did NOT do it for recognition, but (and I believe rightfully so) was pretty fucking pissed that someone else who DIDN’T do the job received an award and recognition for it.

Just for a minute lets be clear that using other people’s achievements for their own gain is WELL within one of the ONLY things that military officers do to promote themselves. This is not what we’re talking about today.

Now if you are a supervisor (notice i didn’t say leader) and this poor fucker did all this work in his off time to help mentor other people, what exactly do you think his attitude towards continuing to mentor people on his very rare off time is going to be?

When I explain my “Accountability” principle to people I often give them this short rant:

“Have you ever owned a young puppy? Or had kids? Or maybe babysat? Ok think of two little puppies than. They are both sitting by the door waiting to go out and pee. One pees on the floor inside and one holds it. Then you take  both outside and the good puppy pees in the grass… but the lazy puppy that peed in the house is the only one that gets a treat. WHAT KIND OF FUCKING PERFORMANCE DO YOU EXPECT OUT OF THESE TWO PUPPIES IN THE FUTURE?????”

I think we all know a boss in our past, or present, that was very content to look over our shoulders and wait for us to make a mistake and then either punish us individually, or worse is to punish everybody for one person’s mistake. It is not very often the case that the same boss will also be on the lookout for someone that goes above and beyond, or even does a moderately professional job but very consistently, and is quick to praise them. Think about that shit.

Now we can pick up again on my rant that I usually tell people, including what I told my friend tonight: “This feels shitty huh? I know it does. I’ve been there. Well guess what mother fucker, don’t fucking forget what this feels like. Because one day you will be in charge of a unit or team or group of people, and some of them will suck your dick and others will focus on the mission. DO NOT be the asshole boss that rewards the idiots for the work that is done by the faithful.”

Your middle and upper management are usually up there in age and committed as far as retirement and tenure goes. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE! But you DO have the opportunity from the DAY you get hired to mentor and shape your teammates and as you grow and climb that ladder YOU can set a stellar god dammed example and the people that work for you will fucking RANT AND RAVE about how they would work for you again in a heart beat. Not because you’re superman, but because you treat them right. Nobody  said that a career in operations was going to be easy, there are definitely long miserable days. But there’s also no excuse for being an asshole to the people that work for you and literally do the job that YOU take credit for…..

….my principle number one applies specifically to LEADERSHIP (not management or supervision or command).

No 1. You job as a leader is to satisfy your subordinates, not your bosses. Because if you only satisfy your bosses than your people will suffer, leading to poor results. If you satisfy you people first, than by fucking proxy their hard work and results will satisfy the people that drive desks.

Very Respectfully,

-RW

 

*Side note for possible future topic, you’ve got to be careful who to blame in situations like this. Do you blame a guy for not correcting the Commander and for not turning down the award? Do you blame the person in middle management who initially wrote the award wrong and didn’t do any fact checking? It’s like real life here where the government and media keep us divided and hating each other so that we never focus on the real problem…the government and the media! hahaha. Food for thought 😉