Posts Tagged 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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Jundism: The Milgram Experiment And The Importance Of Leadership And Questioning Authority

I highly suggest watching this entire show on Discovery Channel called ‘Curiosity: How Evil Are You?‘ The show basically conducts the original Stanley Milgram Experiment with modern day participants.

The results are shocking. The experiment showed that today’s society is equally as susceptible as those participants in the original experiment 50 years ago.

Milgram wanted to answer the question on how humans could violate their consciousness and moral code in the name of ‘following orders’. Here is a quote from wikipedia about the experiment:

“Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?” In other words, “Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?” Milgram’s testing suggested that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs.

So here is the really motivating part about this experiment that I wanted to share and get out there. In the show towards the end, they modified the experiment to have two teachers, with one of the teachers being an actor. That actor would refuse administering the shock as it got higher, and the experiment was to see if their fellow teacher who thought this was real, would refuse with them. That they would not follow orders, and follow the path of someone that chose not to shock the learner.

In the show, the non-actor ‘real’ teacher did refuse, and that is very significant to this post.

Jundism is about being the guy that does question authority or leads by example. To be a positive influence within your team, and not fall within the trap of group think. Within a group setting, everyone might have the same doubts about a certain task or person, but until someone comes forward and acts on those doubts, everyone will just go along. It is my hope that you the reader will recognize how important this is. Just watch the experiments if you don’t believe me.

In the video below, this woman was a real participant and practitioner of Jundism, who actually said no right off the get go. She did not go along with the experiment because she actually thought about it. She had the courage to do what is right and go with her guts and moral code.

But she was also very rare, and the show identified how very few people actually said no to giving shocks to the learner. Let alone giving the ‘killing’ or life threatening shock to a learner. It is quite the thing to watch all of these normal everyday people, actually go through the act of harming an innocent person, all because someone said to do it.

What I want to leave the reader with is that if you can fight peer pressure, fight the urge to just go along with the group, and actually question authority or the group, then you could potentially save lives or serious heartache within your company. And it doesn’t have to be serious stuff, and it could be just leadership by example for everyday things like ‘training, fitness, decision making, ideas, innovations, leadership, etc.’. But it could also be leadership by example in ‘integrity’ situations, or deals where a line could be crossed by individuals, and no one else is stepping up to say ‘hey, this is not right’.

There are many facets of a contract and mission where you have the opportunity to show how it is done correctly.  If you are the guy that does things right, then you will have a good chance at bringing other folks with you on that path. –Matt


The experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T), the subject of the experiment, to give what the latter believes are painful electric shocks to a learner (L), who is actually an actor and confederate. The subject believes that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual electric shocks, though in reality there were no such punishments. Being separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level.




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Leadership: Rooting Out Toxic Leaders–The Army’s 360 Degree Evaluations

A recent survey of more than 22,630 soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his superior as “toxic and unethical,” while 27 percent said they believe their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas.

Very interesting. I have talked about evaluations in the past as a valuable tool for companies to track how policy and leadership interact out in the field. It is a metric, and it is something that most companies of various industries use to great effect–if they are done properly, and used properly….

So I can see where the Army is going with this, and I would be very interested to see the impact of this program. And I also think any leader that truly cares about doing a good job, will actually take a great interest in this kind of feedback from their subordinates. I know I would. It would be really cool if they applied this to NCO’s as well?

This also addresses the reality of what today’s forces are composed of. Millennials make up a large component of today’s military, and these guys like feedback. They want to know if they are screwing up or if there is something they can improve upon, and they seek feedback. Part of the reason for this is that technology has kind of molded this generation into a group that appreciates feedback more.

A guy posts a picture of his kit on an online forum or Facebook, and he will get multiple guys giving input about that equipment. You will see all sorts of replies addressing the pro’s and con’s of that individual’s gear. That is just one example, and technology makes it very easy to ask the group what they think.

You see very simple examples of this all over the place. Open source software is stuff built by the crowd, and critiqued by the crowd. It absolutely must have feedback in order to work. And this feedback loop is what a lot of people come to rely upon. Google lives for that feedback, or if you go onto, you see numerous folks giving feedback about all sorts books and products. All of this is very valuable to those who desire to build a better product or buy the best product. ‘Get feedback’ is also a jundism.

But I will hold judgement on this program until it has been applied and tested. The benefits could be many, just as long as it is not abused. Imagine a higher retention rate of troops, all because they have more respect for their management? That they actually feel that their feedback has value, and those in their command actually listen. Or imagine the residual effect of good leaders, and how that rubs off on the subordinates. You would be amazed at how much damage a bad leader can cause with their ‘poor example’.

On the other hand, an evaluation system like this should not be abused to the point where officers feel they cannot do what they gotta do to accomplish the mission. In war, ordering men and women to risk their lives, or to kill people is a reality. Hopefully an evaluation system like this does not weaken an officer’s ability to give those orders or to do the hard things. So we will see if this program actually adds value.

Another point I wanted to make with this is that if a leader is surrounded by yes men, or is plagued by group think with his immediate group of supervisors, then how would they ever know if they are being effective?  If everyone agrees with him all of the time, or that everyone thinks alike, then how will that management team ever know if they are doing well?  Or how will they sniff out problems, if all they care about is the input of one another?  Boyd would call this a ‘closed system’, and closed systems are bad.

By reaching out or by giving your subordinates the means to communicate their thoughts and ideas, you are turning your closed system into an open system.  Thus turning it into a system that can reach ‘equilibrium’. Or in the terms of the military or private industry, every one in the unit feels like they are actually part of a team.  Problems will not build to a point where things blow up and get ugly. That everyone’s ideas matter, and that they too can help build a better team, a better idea, a better business. Stuff like this is essential for unit cohesion, and that is why I refer to this as ‘feedback gold’. –Matt


Rooting out toxic leaders
By Michelle Tan
Sunday Oct 9, 2011
Soldiers will now be asked — and expected — to rate their bosses.
Effective Oct. 1, officers will be required to assert that they have completed a 360-degree evaluation — where the officer is graded by his subordinates, peers, subordinates and superiors — within the past three years.
Requiring officers to complete 360-degree evaluations should encourage them to grow and, at the same time, weed out potential toxic habits among officers, officials said.
A recent survey of more than 22,630 soldiers from the rank of E-5 through O-6 and Army civilians showed that roughly one in five sees his superior as “toxic and unethical,” while 27 percent said they believe their organization allows the frank and free flow of ideas.
The survey, conducted by the Center for Army Leadership, also stated that rooting out toxic leadership from the ranks requires “accurate and consistent assessment, input from subordinates, and a focus beyond what gets done in the short-term.”
Gen. Martin Dempsey, now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said when he was the Army chief of staff that senior leaders must “change the culture of the Army to embrace 360s” and develop a culture where leaders want to know how they’re viewed by their peers and subordinates.
The 360-degree evaluation now required of officers is called the Army 360 Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback. This addition to the Officer Evaluation Record is among a list of changes the Army is making to the officer evaluation policy. The changes apply to OERs with a “thru date” of Nov. 1 and later.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said he believes “multidimensional feedback is an important component to holistic leader development.”

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Jundism: Steve Jobs On Life And Death–“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”

What a sad deal. Steve Jobs of Apple fame just died, and the world just lost an incredible innovator. With that said, I wanted to post a speech he gave that was incredibly inspirational. I will also be writing this post on my trusty Mac.

Steve Jobs outlines the mental tools or philosophies of his life, that he thought would help these students. He gave three stories that described exactly what he thought was important. Anyone from any industry and walk of life can be inspired by these concepts and lessons.

The first story is about connecting the dots.  Or basically, building snowmobiles. You take everything that you have learned in your past, analyze and synthesize, and build a better idea/product/service/strategy/tactic.  Jobs dropped out of college, but took a calligraphy in his final days at that college. Low and behold, he was fascinated with calligraphy and was able to draw upon that class and experience years later when he and his partners created the Mac computer. That bit of knowledge and experience, was like the skies of his ‘snow mobile’ called the Mac computer. He connected the dots of his past to create something new. Quote from speech:

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

The second story is about love and loss. He talks about finding your passion or love, and recognize how valuable that is.  And he talks about how valuable failure or loss can be.  It forces you to re-evaluate your love affair with your subject, and it also forces you to re-invent yourself and the process. Steve goes into the story about him being let go by Apple at age 30, or to be fired by the company you started.  But then talks about the rebuilding process after that incident. That he went on to find other companies that were immensely successful, went on to find his wife, and then years later was brought back on to work at Apple–which was faltering at the time. When Jobs came back to Apple, he breathed new life and direction into the company, and lead a come back of all comebacks.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

The final story is about death.  Something this industry deals with in the war, and a reality that Jobs was certainly dealing with at the time of this speech. His view on death as a ‘change agent’, is awesome.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Don’t be trapped by dogma……have the courage to follow your heart and intuition….your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Incredible words to live by, and an incredible view about something all of us will face one day. And Steve lived these words until he died. Steve also reminds me of Boyd when it comes to idea creation and battling dogma, and having the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

I really liked the last bit of his speech. It is important to note, because this is what he felt summed up all of his thoughts on life and death, and what will get you through. It is also the back story to the title of this post.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Good stuff, and Steve Jobs is quite the man. Transcripts for the speech here. –Matt


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