Posts Tagged Leadership

Podcasts: Boyd Briefing On Organic Design For Command And Control

This is fantastic stuff! I had no idea this existed and if you are a fan of Boyd and mission command, you need to check this out. If you go to this link, or click on the graphic below, it will take you to the website that has this recording that is synced to Boyd’s slide. It also has audience participation in the audio and you get a really good feel on how Boyd would interact with the audience.

A big hat tip to Gahlord of Thoughtfaucet for putting this together. As for an actual download, perhaps someone out there can put it together? Until then, just listen and watch the slides at the Boyd and Beyond site, and enjoy some ‘Leadership and appreciation’!!! -Matt

Edit: 01/04/14 -Notice the theme in this briefing about the importance of having multiple nodes of feedback within your organization, in order to get the proper orientation to make good decisions. It is why Balck ate with his troops–to get feedback that was different than what he was getting in his staff meetings. You do not want a situation where you are getting information from just one source–because that one source could be biased. They could be sucking up to you. You want multiple sources of honest feedback to get a more complete picture. In other words, and this is the point of his lecture, you want to get an ‘appreciation’ for what you have and what is, so that you can apply some sound leadership to the situation. Appreciation and leadership….not command and control.

 

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Leadership: General Balck On Eating With Your Troops

When General Hermann Balck was commanding 48th Panzer Korps on the Eastern Front with General F.W. von Mellinthin as his I-A, Mellinthin one day reproached Balck for wasting time by going out to eat with the troop units so often. Balck replied, “You think so? OK, tomorrow you come with me.”
The next day, they arrived at a battalion a bit before lunchtime. They had a formal meeting, Balck asked some questions and got some answers. Then, they broke for lunch. During the informal conversation that usually accompanies meals, Balck asked the same questions and got completely different answers. On their way back to the headquarters, Balck turned to Mellinthin and said, “Now you see why I go out so often to eat with the troop units. It’s not for the cuisine.”

In one of my searches on General Hermann Balck, I came across an interesting deal about the value of informal conversation and eating with your troops. As a leader in the PMSC world, to achieve unit cohesion can be challenging. Most gigs are personnel deployment versus unit deployment, so you could be on a gig where you are constantly working with new folks.

So as a leader in such an environment, you have to constantly find ways of connecting with your guys other than just working with them in the day to day. Anything you can do to connect with folks and bring them together as a team, even when that team is constantly changing. The brass ring for any leader is to create unit cohesion so that operationally, you work as a team and not a bunch of individuals. Sitting with your shift, team, detail, company, etc. is one small way of building that unit cohesion.

This sounds like a no-brainer when it comes to leading, but you still have folks out there who want to separate themselves from their team/organization/company. Either for privacy issues, or on the negative side, because they could care less about the very people they lead. That eating with your men is a waste of time, like what was mentioned by Mellinthin up top. The simple act of breaking bread with your brothers in arms can show that you do care about them and actually want to connect with them other than through training or work.

It is also an excellent way to get feedback gold from your people. Or to create an environment where people can open up to what is really going on with the contract/mission or with what is happening with the team. Someone might mention a very useful bit of information about training or operational stuff, that really opens up a conversation within the group at the dinner table. ‘Pass the gravy, and tell me more about how to do this better….. As a leader,  you should have a front seat to this information sharing dinner party.

There was also a mention of Boyd in this article that was interesting. Boyd and Lind were both a part of the group that interviewed Balck and all sorts of cool lessons learned were obtained from these conversations. -Matt

 

General Hermann Balck in the center, at a table with soldiers.

Conversations
By William S. Lind
March 15, 2007
A curious fact about the American military, and American private industry, in the early 21st century is their insistence on holding formal meetings. The practice is curious because these same institutions spend a great deal of time and effort studying “good management,” which should recognize what most participants in such meetings see, namely that they are a waste of time. Good decisions are far more often a product of informal conversations than of any formal meeting, briefing or process.
History offers a useful illustration. In 1814, the Congress of Vienna, which faced the task of putting Europe back together after the catastrophic French Revolution and almost a quarter-century of subsequent wars, did what aristocrats usually do. It danced, it dined, it stayed up late playing cards for high stakes, it carried on affairs, usually not affairs of state. Through all its aristocratic amusements, it conversed. In the process, it put together a peace that gave Europe almost a century of security, with few wars and those limited.
In contrast, the conference of Versailles in 1919 was all business. Its dreary, interminable meetings (read Harold Nicolson for a devastating description) reflected the bottomless, plodding earnestness of the bourgeois and the Roundhead. Its product, the Treaty of Versailles, was so flawed that it spawned another great European war in just twenty years. As Kaiser Wilhelm II said from exile in Holland, the war to end war yielded a peace to end peace.
The U.S. military has carried the formal meeting’s uselessness to a new height with its unique cultural totem, the Powerpoint brief. Almost all business in the American armed forces is now done through such briefings. An Exalted High Wingwang, usually a general or an admiral, formally leads the brief, playing the role of the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert. Grand Wazoos from various satrapies occupy the first rows of seats. Behind them sit rank upon rank of field-grade horse-holders, flower-strewers and bung-holers, desperately striving to keep their eyelids open through yet another iteration of what they have seen countless times before.
The briefing format was devised to use form to conceal a lack of substance. Powerpoint, by reducing everything to bullets, goes one better. It makes coherent thought impossible. Bulletizing effectively makes every point equal in importance, which prevents any train of logic from developing. Thoughts are presented like so many horse apples, spread randomly on the road. After several hundred Powerpoint slides, the brains of all in attendance are in any case reduced to mush. Those in the back rows quietly pray for a suicide bomber to provide some diversion and end their ordeal.

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Industry Talk: Aegis Guards Speak In Kabul… And Their Leaders Should Have Listened

First off, bravo to these guards for voicing their concerns and holding their company and leaders accountable. I also want to say thanks to POGO for putting this out there, both on their blog and over at Foreign Policy magazine.

As I read through this post, it looks to me like the company’s leaders have done a terrible job of listening to their guard force’s concerns about security or even about the day to day operations of the company. And if the actions of the company and these leaders are causing folks to leave, then that only creates more problems for the guys on the ground because they work more hours and get burned out.

Another point I want to bring up is that today’s security contracting industry is filled with combat seasoned contractors who know exactly what is needed to actually provide security in a war zone. If these guys are recognizing deficiencies in the security apparatus of the embassy, then it would behoove the leadership to listen to these concerns and make adjustments. Especially after such incidents like what happened in Benghazi.

They should be thanking these men for actually caring about the mission and the defense of the facility, and bringing these concerns forward. Instead, it looks like the ego of these leaders is more important and they have chosen to fire or reprimand those who actually spoke up. Shameful….

On that note, it makes no sense at all for a leader or leaders of a security force to not listen to this pool of combat veterans, security contractor veterans or police veterans, that when combined, would have years of experience and knowledge. It should be the goal of that leadership to tap into that pool of ‘human resource’, and take full advantage of that. To use that resource to build a better security apparatus or use it as part of their Kaizen or continuous improvement plan, and then reward that resource by giving them the credit and encouraging them to do it again and again. Call it collaboration or team work, and it works if you actually allow it to happen and know how to use it.

People will also support what they help to create, which is a Jundism. It is also a great way of showing that you are not a toxic leader.

Either way, we will see how this turns out? Obviously this is a black eye on the management of Aegis because it got to this level, and some changes are in order if they intend to hang onto this contract. -Matt

Edit: 01/24/2013- It sounds like four of the guards have filed a $5 million lawsuit against Aegis for being told to lie on their time sheets. The law firms they are using are The Employment Law Group and Lichten & Liss-Riordan. Here is a link to the court filing.

 

A “Mutiny” in Kabul: Guards Allege Security Problems Have Put Embassy at Risk
January 17, 2013
By Adam Zagorin
Private guards responsible for protecting what may be the most at-risk U.S. diplomatic mission in the world — the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan — say security weaknesses have left it dangerously vulnerable to attack.
In interviews and written communications with the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), current and former guards said a variety of shortcomings, from inadequate weapons training to an overextended guard force, have compromised security there — security provided under a half-a-billion-dollar contract with Aegis Defense Services, the U.S. subsidiary of a British firm. “[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue,” a guard serving at the embassy wrote in a late November message to POGO.
“[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue.”
In July, dissatisfaction boiled over when more than 40 members of the embassy’s Emergency Response Team signed a petition sounding an alarm about embassy security, people familiar with the document said. The petition, submitted to the State Department and Aegis, expressed a “vote of no confidence” in three of the guard force leaders, accusing them of “tactical incompetence” and “a dangerous lack of understanding of the operational environment.” Two guards say they were quickly fired after organizing the petition, in what they called “retaliation.”
A State Department document obtained by POGO describes a “mutiny” among guards who defend the Kabul embassy — an apparent reference to the petition, though the document does not explicitly mention it. Dated July 18, 2012, and labeled “SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED,” the document says that the mutiny was “baseless” but that it “undermined the chain of command” and “put the security of the Embassy at risk.”

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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: Adaptive Leader LLC–Leadership Training By Don Vandergriff

Don illustrates how to use Outcomes Based Training & Education (OBT&E) and Adaptive Decision Games (ADGs) to teach and develop adaptability – shaping leaders and teams who achieve out-sized results and help continually evolve their organizations to thrive in the face of change and adversity.
Don began his work on personnel management and leader development with the question “How would John Boyd develop the kinds of leaders he saw as most effective?”

Wow, this is cool. Don Vandergriff is another outstanding John Boyd enthusiast that is actually applying his ideas to leadership training/consulting. This would be a fantastic training provider to look to if your company is looking to square away your management systems. (Or maybe your company could care less about leadership?….)

So who are Don’s clients so far? Well if you look at his client page, you will see a whole list of private and public organizations, to include the Army, Marines, and Navy SEALs. Check it out and definitely like them on Facebook or their other social networking sites they list. They also run a blog with an RSS feed. -Matt

Website for Adaptive Leadership here.

 

Adaptive Leader

Adaptive Leader focuses on helping you develop the right kind of leadership and decision making skills within your organization.
We are a world leader in the application of cutting edge Outcome Based Training and Education (OBT&E) having worked with the British Council, Johns Hopkins University, Wells Fargo, United States Army, the U.S Navy Seals, the Baltimore Police Department and many other large innovative organizations.
Our unique OBT&E model can be applied to a wide variety of areas to encourage rapid learning and extremely fast team cohesion. The process enables participants to develop leadership skills, moral courage and decision-making skills in a safe but pressured environment. All our workshops are completely interactive with participants fully engaged throughout.
Our unique application of the “After Action Review” tool allows us to craft customized Adaptive Decision Games based on a client’s own market place experiences; meaning your leaders and future leaders can be trained with your business as the case study.

Author, Innovator and Leading Thinking on the Development of Adaptive Leaders
Don Vandergriff has been quoted as an expert on leader development, personnel management and fourth generation warfare in publications ranging from the Washington Post, Inside the Pentagon, Army Times and The Atlantic Monthly, and his ideas featured in Harvard Business Review.
Don illustrates how to use Outcomes Based Training & Education (OBT&E) and Adaptive Decision Games (ADGs) to teach and develop adaptability – shaping leaders and teams who achieve out-sized results and help continually evolve their organizations to thrive in the face of change and adversity.
Don began his work on personnel management and leader development with the question “How would John Boyd develop the kinds of leaders he saw as most effective?”

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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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