Archive for category Jundism

Leadership: Narcissism And Toxic Leaders

This is an excellent run down of a particular type of ‘bad boss‘ that folks might run into out there. The article also talks about what to look for when finding potential leaders for an organization, in order to avoid these narcissistic toxic leaders. They boil it down to having emotional intelligence or the ability to focus on others (respecting others) as opposed to focusing purely on self (narcissism).

Under Jundism, you will find a couple of concepts that promote emotional intelligence. One is to ‘take care of your people’ and another would be ‘people support what they help to create’.  Both of these concepts require knowledge of your people. With that knowledge, you will have the brain power and experience of the group to tap into so you can build a better product or service.

Another more simplistic way to look at this, is to find and hire those individuals who are there ‘to do’ the job of a leader, and not there just ‘to be’ a leader or ‘To Be, Or To Do’ in the words of Col. John Boyd.

One final point that the article mentioned that rang true for both the military and any organization, and goes well with ‘the courage to do what is right’, is this quote.

“If the leader walks by and observes something wrong without making the correction, he has just established the new standard of behavior.”

If a company or military unit knows they have a toxic leader within their ranks, and they do nothing about it, they in essence are saying that it is acceptable. The troops are left wondering, does the organization as a whole really care about their welfare, if they knowingly allow these individuals to stay in these positions of power, or promote folks whom are toxic into these positions of power within the organization?

To that end, I would say that another quote from Boyd is in order–‘people, ideas, hardware–and in that order’. Companies and the military must make the effort to ensure that good leaders are within their ranks, representing the organizations well, managing the mission and contract well, and taking care of their people. That they are exhibiting the necessary emotional intelligence to properly use an organization’s most important resource–it’s people. –Matt


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Leadership: General Mattis On ‘Command And Feedback’, And The Use Of ‘Eyes Officers’

From his lead position, Mattis stayed close to the regiments involved in the fiercest fighting and got a good sense for events on the battlefield. The general refused to believe that images on a computer screen in the quiet hum of a command post could tell him what he needed to know about how the battle was progressing and what his subordinates required. Mattis could be ruthless; he would relieve the commander of one of his regiments in the middle of a campaign. In the marines, only performance counts. Mattis picked several officers to act as what he called his “eyes only” representatives. They had no authority but, he said, like “Frederick the Great’s focused telescope or Wellington’s lieutenants in the Peninsula Campaign,” they had the duty of wandering the battlefield to keep him informed of things they thought he needed to know: troops or officers who were exhausted by combat, supplies that were not reaching the front line, and the other human factors that can be crucial in combat. -page 116 and 117 of The Iraq War: A Military History, By Williamson Murray, Robert Scales

The Slate put this out last year, but I just recently stumbled upon it and wanted to share. General Mattis is a Marine’s Marine and he is very much respected. With that said, when I found out that he was implementing some concepts that are familiar here in Jundism and some of my leadership posts, I perked up.

Specifically, the mystery shopper concept or having folks on the inside of your organization to give you some honest feedback about the true health of your company or military unit. With this data, you can actually make adjustments to policy that will better serve the mission or contract.

I also liked the focus on innovation and gaining feedback. Or, command and feedback, which is a play on the phrase command and control. This also led to the best quote in the article below about where that feedback or innovation could come from.

If you are always on the hunt for complacency, argues Mattis, you will reward risk-takers, and people who thrive in uncertainty. “Take the mavericks in your service,” he tells new officers, “the ones that wear rumpled uniforms and look like a bag of mud but whose ideas are so offsetting that they actually upset the people in the bureaucracy. One of your primary jobs is to take the risk and protect these people, because if they are not nurtured in your service, the enemy will bring their contrary ideas to you.”

That is awesome and all companies and military units should learn from this. Leaders should dare to listen and seek feedback from all quarters of their organization, and soldiers/contractors should dare to come forward and disagree, or present the better idea. Any policies and actions within an organization that supports this command and feedback process should be looked at and attempted.

We should constantly be supporting and pushing innovation within the ranks, and constantly seeking feedback and using these innovations in order to continuously improve the organization/mission/contract/war fighting/strategy. Awesome stuff. –Matt



Gen. James Mattis, USMC The general who is fighting a constant battle to keep the military innovating.
By John Dickerson
Aug. 9, 2011
When speaking to rising officers, Marine Gen. James Mattis likes to tell the story of the British Navy. At the turn of the 19th century, it had no rival in the world, but 100 years later it had grown complacent in dominance. Officers amassed rules, ribbons, and rituals that had little to do with the changing nature of war. “They no longer had captains of wars,” he tells them, “but captains of ships.”
As commander of the U.S. Central Command, Mattis oversees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but his career mission has been against complacency. In modern warfare the reliance on better technology and superior firepower deadens the talent for innovation, he argues. This blinds some officers to emerging threats and slows their ability to react to them. The U.S. military, he argues “must avoid becoming dominant and irrelevant.”

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Cool Stuff: TED-Margaret Heffernan: Dare To Disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.
The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns — like conflict avoidance and selective blindness — that lead managers and organizations astray.“A fantastic model of collaboration: thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers.” (Margaret Heffernan)”

This TED was fantastic. In the past I have talked about questioning authority, avoiding group think or confirmation bias, and seeking feedback as crucial elements of a company or organization’s health. Especially if you want a thinking or learning organization.

The other point in this TED that was cool was that the answers to your company’s problems are often times right there in the data and feedback from employees/members, but because folks are afraid to bring them up or leaders shun that data because they hate being questioned or challenged (ego), that the data is ignored or is thrown away. A company must find ways of finding this data, and use it effectively for their Kaizen programs.

They must also listen to those who have the courage to disagree or say something, and they must reward these folks–because they cared enough about your company or contract to bring that forward. It is feedback gold, and those leaders who care more about ego, and less about encouraging that process and acting on it, are toxic to a company and that contract. Check it out. –Matt


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Maritime Security: Business Innovations–A Company Proposes A Centralized Approach For Protecting Vessels

US-based company Armed Piracy Defense is proposing a centralised approach to ensure that all ships within high risk areas will have anti piracy security teams on board. These security teams would have common protocols and procedures to provide quality armed security service to ships transiting pirate-infested waters.
From its command centre in South Florida, Armed Piracy Defense gives thousands of shipping companies access to 25 maritime security companies and their available teams. These companies have 125 teams in the High Risk Areas at any given time. The plan is to include as many as 400 security teams that will be stocked by floating armouries, to protect vessels in danger zones. These teams will be able to cover all of the 150 ships on the riskiest routes, moving in and out of the Indian Ocean High Risk Areas each day. -From Defence Web

This is cool and thanks to Christopher over at my Feral Jundi Facebook Page for sending me this one. What APD has proposed is a rather innovative business model that could help to reduce costs to shipping and ensure more ships get access to armed security in high risk transit areas.

What I wanted to do is post what the company is proposing, and allow the readership here to saturate/incubate/illuminate this proposal, and share their thoughts. It also sounds like the company is seeking this input as well, which is awesome. They want feedback and they want to improve upon the idea, which is pure Jundism in my book. So definitely let them know by voicing your opinion here. Bravo to the company for daring to be innovative, and open about their idea. –Matt


From the APD website
Armed Piracy Defense: Securing clients fleet any time, any place in 25 HRA ports, with world TOP 50 leading Marsec companies
Armed Piracy Defense is offering an innovative new service that will save you money, time and hassle. We operate in Florida, USA, a command and control center for all Maritime security companies world wide, with over 50 1st class selected companies operating between West Africa and Straits of Malacca.
All of the companies are members of SAMI and other 1st class accredited companies. When your voyage plans change to A NEW destination as you set sail or if your timing changes for mechanical reasons or a deviation from the original route plan, you will still need armed guards to protect your vessel.
We are able to match the needs of ship owners in all HRA with Maritime Security companies. These companies provide us with disembark times and the place of their teams 7 to 8 working days before the completion of a voyage so we can put their team with your vessel when a last minute change occurs.
We periodically send information about the availability of ARMED GUARD teams in real time at 25 HRA ports to 10000 selected Ship owners, Charterers, CSO’s, Fleet managers, Active Captains and Operation officers world wide. Our aim is to secure your ship at any time at any place.

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Leadership: Curing CEO-itis And Gaining Fingerspitzengefühl

This is a great article. Professor Michael Roberto gave the heads up about this article and I instantly thought this would be some good stuff for leaders of all levels to check out. It is also some good advice for how management/leaders can gain Fingerspitzengefühl or a ‘finger tip feel’ for what is going on within their company or unit. Below is a quick background on the German term and I think it fits well with what is talked about in the article.

Fingerspitzengefühl is a German term, literally meaning “finger tips feeling” and meaning intuitive flair or instinct, which has been appropriated by the English language as a loanword. In German, it describes a great situational awareness, and the ability to respond most appropriately and tactfully. It can be applied well to diplomats, bearers of bad news, or to describe a superior ability respond to an escalated situation.
The word is enjoying a second life in the English language in military terminology, where it is used for the stated ability of some military commanders, such as Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel, to maintain with great accuracy in attention to detail an ever-changing operational and tactical situation by maintaining a mental map of the battlefield. In this sense the term is synonymous with the English expression of “keeping one’s finger on the pulse”. The mental image given is of a military commander who is in such intimate communication with the battlefield that it is as though he has a fingertip on each critical point, expressed in the 18th and 19th centuries as “having a feel for combat”. -from Wikipedia

I also agree entirely with Professor Roberto’s commentary on the article. That these are some concepts that leaders should be practicing in their formative years so that it becomes ingrained into their psyche and leadership style. Perhaps one day a reader here, that has taken these concepts to heart, will apply them to their command as a CEO of a company? Here is Roberto’s quote:

 I think it’s a terrific list.  Moreover, I think it applies to managers at all levels of an organization, not just at the CEO position.   Front-line managers should also cultivate an objective sounding board, encourage dissent, and surround themselves with talented subordinates.   In fact, if people engage in these practices early in their managerial career, they may be less likely to catch CEO disease if and when they rise to the top.

What also came to mind as I read through this thing is that the CEO of G4S, Nick Buckles, was probably the victim of some of this CEO-itis, or basically was lacking in any kind of finger tip feel for what was going on with their London Olympics security contract. The end result has been disastrous for him and the company, and it is still ongoing.

So here are the main concepts, and I will add some points to them that are relevant to this industry. Also note how many of these tie into the concepts listed under Jundism.

#1 Surround yourself with highly capable lieutenants.

This one is commonsense and you always want to bring folks into your decision making team that are smart and capable. But you also want honest folks who will give you the straight scoop. You do not want a team of ‘yes men’ who will never say no or fear giving their advice or opinion. You do not want clones of yourself either just because then you get situations within a team that leads to confirmation bias or group think. So pick your lieutenants wisely, and that goes from the shift leader looking for an assistant shift leader, all the way up to CEO’s of companies looking for a management team.

#2 Encourage dissent, discourage sycophants.

This one is great, and ties in well with #1 . You want folks who will be honest with you and genuinely care about the success of the company or the mission. You do not want yes men or folks willing to step all over others in order to get to a position– that has your ear. The CEO should ‘trust, but verify’ the quality of their management team. They should actively seek feedback and treat that as gold.

Those who are willing to dissent should be heard, and leaders should have respect for those individuals that actually came forward with an issue. A leader should interpret that as someone who cares enough about the company to actually step forward with a way to make it better.(the courage to do what is right) A leader should not look at that as a threat, or be driven by ego to the point where only they come up with the ‘good ideas’. Good ideas or warnings about issues in the company can come from anywhere and anyone, and it is up to the leaders to make sure they are listening and keeping open to that.

This definitely applies to shift leaders and small unit leaders. You should encourage folks to come forward with better ideas, and actually act on those ideas. (People will support what they help to create), so let them help to create a great team so they can feel  part of the process.

#3 Regularly admit and fix your mistakes.

No one likes dishonesty and no one likes folks that do not admit to when they screw up. Take ownership of your mistakes and then fix them–and learn from them. (Continuously improve)  yourself and the company, and don’t sweep this stuff under the carpet.

As a shift leader or project manager, this rule is very important. If you want folks to come up to you and admit some crucial error, then you as the leader must (lead by example) and show by your actions what that means. This process will allow for honesty to surface, which then leads to getting a better feel for what is going on with your contract or the company.

I imagine with this G4S deal, folks were not willing to admit to mistakes at some point along the line. Because if the CEO of the company only found out about the condition of a poorly run high profile contract like this, only days before the media found out and blew it up, then that says to me that some folks were not keeping upper management in the loop. Or upper management was told, but no one wanted to pass it on. Probably so that their leader(s) they were sucking up to would get the impression that all is well and they are ‘on top of it’. pffffft. In the end, not saying something about it or acknowledging that there was a problem, has led to an even bigger problem.

#4  Treat every employee with respect.

This is a no-brainer as well, but CEO’s all the way down to Project Managers seem to screw this one up. Especially in this industry. Our group is filled with Type A personalities who sometimes think it is appropriate to demand the same respect they got when they were in the military or police or wherever. Actions speak louder than words, and in this industry, it is not about what you used to be, but what you are right now.

Private industry also requires a different type of leadership than what was required in the military or police. When PM’s or others fail to shift gears and recognize this new reality, they quickly learn the errors of their ways. Especially when contractors make the mass exodus from a contract because they were poorly treated or disrespected. Remember, at will contracts go both ways, and contractors will just leave. There is no law requiring folks to sit there and take that kind of abuse.

The other one that project managers especially screw up is ‘leadership by email’. If you are thousands of miles away and sending out emails to folks on contracts, and you have not paid special attention as to what is said in those emails, then PM’s can do massive damage.  They can be insensitive to the particulars of those who are fulfilling the contract in some war zone, they can sound gruff and out of touch, they can actually offend by saying the wrong things, etc. It all leads to the one thing, and that is having respect for those that you are leading out there. If you cannot show that respect in person in that war zone, then at the very least you should work hard to show respect in your emails as you sit in the comfort of your office.

Besides, those emails are permanent records of communications.  If a disgruntled contractor had received a horrible letter filled with disrespectful items, then that thing could be used in future actions against that sender or the company. Or if a leader wrote an email while they were drunk or during a really stressful time period in their life, then like a bullet leaving a gun, that email is effectively doing damage. It does it’s damage well after it was sent and could passed around all over the place. Subordinates will show others these emails, and have proof of how little the company cares or how horrible a leader is. So sending nasty-grams like that are incredibly damaging to a program and the culture of a company.  Don’t do it, and always watch what you say when you communicate with subordinates.

Treat them with the same respect as if you were face to face with them, and use positive reinforcement versus the negative. And don’t lie or keep folks in the dark, because that can be damaging as well. Especially if folks find out through other means that a leader has purposely done those things.

#5 Find an objective sounding board outside the office.

This last one is a good one. Find someone or a group that will keep you grounded. On contracts, it could be a loved one or a friend(s) you talk with via skype. Or if the job is at home, then maybe you have a group you can connect with that is outside of your gig.

Or, if you are on a contract, then find someone there that you can confide in and talk openly. In the military they call this a battle buddy, and not only are they important for watching your back in a war zone, but they are very helpful for when you need to vent about stuff on the contract and mission. Especially if you are a shift leader or PM, all the way up to CEO.

It is extremely helpful to be able to just talk freely and not worry about command presence or being the guy in charge. To have someone that you can just be a normal joe around and use them as a sounding board is great. Leaders are human too, and you definitely cannot be an island. With that said, I imagine Nick Buckles is venting in private with his ‘sounding board’, and especially after the monumental stress of responding to this crisis every day.

You also need a sounding board at the CEO level, just so you don’t get into the idea that you are superior or the company is untouchable or will never fail. One of the comments in the article over at where this was originally published said that CEO’s need someone whispering in their ear, much like the Roman whispering slave during Roman Triumphs. These guys followed behind generals telling them how immortal they were, as a part of the ceremony. (The words that the slave is said to have used are not known, but suggestions include “Respice te, hominem te memento” (“Look behind you, remember you are only a man”) and “Memento mori” (“Remember that you are mortal”-wikipedia).

Pretty cool and let me know what you think? If you are a CEO or former CEO, or if you have had experience at any level of leadership in a organization, I would love to hear your thoughts on this stuff.  –Matt


Nick Buckles, CEO of G4S.


Finding a Cure for “CEO-itis”
July 12, 2012
Warning: You could be at risk of contracting “CEO-itis.”
An affliction of arrogance that plagues many people picked for powerful posts, its symptoms include a tendency toward isolation, belief that you’re smarter than others, preference for loyalists, aversion to changing course even in the face of failure –and love of royal treatment.
It appears to occur when promising managers reach the corner office or other C-suite spots. Once infected, once-successful executives often underperform and put themselves at great risk of early exits, experts say.
In June, John Figueroa quit after 17 months as chief executive of Omnicare Inc. “He believed he accomplished the goals established by the board,” the nursing-home pharmacy operator announced.
But Mr. Figueroa also acted imperiously, ignored suggestions from colleagues, and made extensive personal use of the corporate aircraft, according to people familiar with the situation.
In short, the CEO title went to his head, one informed individual says. McKesson Corp., Mr. Figueroa’s prior employer, had recommended him as a collaborative team player, another person remembers. Omnicare declined to comment.

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Law Enforcement: Florida Trooper Arrests Miami Police Officer In Marked Car For Speeding

Wow, and good on this trooper for pulling over this Miami cop. And you know, she could have easily looked the other way and followed some kind of a ‘blue code’. But she did not, and she had the courage to do the right thing. I would give her a Jundism award for this one!

Hopefully she doesn’t get any reprisals for what she did, and yet again, that whole ‘blue code’ thing could pop up and her life as a trooper could get real lonely. Still, I certainly hope her department takes the right side of this deal, and makes a point that this is exactly what they want in a trooper, and slam any dork that thinks otherwise.

The Miami cop was also off duty and violating the speed limit because he was late for a job. Talk about an abuse of authority? –Matt


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