Are your team members engaged? Unfortunately, many business leaders complain that some of their team members are not reliable and will shirk their responsibilities whenever they can?
Since much of my leadership experience comes from a long career in the military, I’m often asked why the military seems to have more dedicated people. Of course, the military has members who are not engaged and are unreliable, but within the service there is a general culture that tends to prevent such disengagement. Underpinning that culture is a three-part foundation which is easily transferrable to the corporate world.
- First is a feeling of membership in something important and much greater than just the individual. That’s instilled into a recruit from the first day. Civilian leaders I talk to point out that they don’t defend the nation or anything nearly as high sounding. That’s true, but if what their team or company does isn’t important, why are they doing it? It’s a leadership challenge to help employees understand why what they do is important and that they are part of something bigger than themselves. For instance, here at The Daedalus Group we are no longer part of the military, but we believe that by creating better leaders we make the nation stronger.
- Second is the importance of doing the job right because others are relying on you. This teamwork concept is also something the military instills from the first day. One person’s failure to perform can have dire consequences. That’s easy to translate to non-military situations, especially in an industrial setting where one team member’s failure could cause serious injury. In any organization, if one person fails to do their job correctly everyone suffers.
- Third is training and empowering leaders at all levels to take action to correct bad behavior. For some reason this is one of the best kept military secrets, but it’s easy to apply in the corporate world. The military relies on its non-commissioned officers to maintain standards and keep their teams engaged. They are trained, developed, and relied upon to be leaders. Though they have limited legal authority, these leaders have significant moral authority supported by the executive levels of the military. Commanders depend on their leadership. To have truly high performing teams, team leaders at all levels must learn the basics of leading people and they must be given the authority and support to perform their leadership role.
This three-part foundation should not be unique to the military. It can be applied to any leader’s situation to create high performing and enthusiastic teams.