Three Ways: the right way, the wrong way and the Army way.

Unique Leadership Axiom: whether you think it is right or wrong, there are rules to follow: Enduring Values – what the Army way it is about!

America is, and hence all Americans are engaged in a war for survival.

In that war you are leading your life. Whatever the size of your life, individual, family, organization or nation is, your mission is to lead in such a way that you win.

  • For a nation at war, winning is the only thing.
    • If a nation loses, then its future is in the hands of the victor.
  • For the individual in war, winning is a very personal thing.
    • Winning is surviving.

Today as you lead, you will work through many tasks. Whether you win or lose depends on The Way that you handle those tasks.

If you live, lead and function without a guiding set of principles, then you may think it is doing things The Right Way.

Whenever you are confronted with a new task you attack it from who you are. But you have so many facets that you do not always work the same way or even start from the same beliefs every time.

  • Sometimes you just launch on an ego trip.
  • Sometimes your past experience generates a knee-jerk reaction.
  • Sometimes your solution is powered by emotion.
  • Sometimes you just proceed with the traditional solution.
  • Sometimes you have a hard time proceeding because you have a closed mind.
  • Sometimes you do not get much done because you are lazy.
  • Sometimes you have trouble with fitting in.
  • Sometimes you just run with Gut feel.
  • Sometimes you just decide to do it the easy way.
  • Sometimes you look for the cheapest way.
  • Sometimes your approach is to say there is no negotiation.
  • Sometimes you insist on the “new tech” way of doing it.
  • Sometimes you waste a lot of time looking for a better way. And,
  • Sometimes you just turn it into an adventure.

But whichever way you did it, you decided that was The Right Way.

When somebody else works the task you often decide that it was done The Wrong Way.

  • It was the wrong way because your ego did not like it.
  • It was the wrong way because it was done by an outsider.
  • It was the wrong way because it did not match tradition.
  • It was the wrong way because it cost too much.
  • It was the wrong way because it did not use the right tools.
  • It was wrong way because it had a hidden agenda.
  • It was the wrong way for some vague reason; it just did not feel right.

There is another choice, The Army Way. The Army way depends upon developing mutual trust amongst all the players.

I will bet that you have complained about your boss or perhaps had someone complain about you as the boss. Yes, I have had both of those experiences. And both of them were my fault. In the first case the combination of fear and ego directed my behavior. In the second case I failed to lead.

Does the Army do any better than that? Generally the answer is yes, the Army does much better than that. It does so by making loyalty its tool. Loyalty only exists when experience replaces fear with confidence. When I criticized my boss I was not confident in his ability as a leader.

In the Army there is a process which I call bidirectional leadership. It establishes a hierarchy of loyalties. We all come equipped with loyalty to ourselves. That is not something that the Army needs to establish. If a soldier does not have intrinsic loyalty to himself, the Army musters him out of the service. However, given the minimum basic personal integrity the soldier then learns a hierarchy of trusts:

  • Loyalty to the unit in which the individual serves.
  • Loyalty to the Army.
  • Loyalty to God.
  • Loyalty to America.

And if you are having trouble with the idea of loyalty to God, then at least accept that the soldier must have loyalty to strong ethical values.

The Army way has its foundation in individual integrity at all levels of the organization. An equivalent civilian idea can be found in the book entitled “WINNERS NEVER CHEAT.” Winning always has a price. However, winning at any price is unacceptable! That is the ultimate cheat. If the price of winning is cheating, it is the critical loss of individual integrity at one of the levels between the bottom rank and the Commanding General. It is unacceptable.

The enduring value of Integrity is the bedrock upon which the Army Way is founded.

Leadership Focus.
In any organization an individual who does not practice bidirectional loyalty becomes the weakest link, the point at which leadership fails, the stress concentration which fractures the unit.

My Take.

If you practice bidirectional leadership in an all parts of your life you will never suffer the grief of being the source of the team’s demise.

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One Response to Three Ways: the right way, the wrong way and the Army way.

  1. Dave says:

    Too bad this wasn’t taken seriously in my army -196

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