Saturday, November 29, 2008

Troop Leading Procedures (Part III)

For many people, the task of leading one's group can be daunting. Where's the training? What about some sort of manual? Well...we can forget about either one. For most, good old OJT (on the job training) is all that is offered to help in the growth and development of leaders.

So when it comes to procedures for leading "troops," why not benefit from the lessons of the military? What follows then is a continuation of our discussion on "Troop Leading Procedures." I first learned them at Army Ranger School as a logical methodology to translate a new mission into action for small units. I have since discovered that this approach is just as valid for large, civilian units like the one I now lead.

Here are what are known as "Troop Leading Procedures:"

L – Listen and receive the Mission.
E – Energize the Troops. (Issue a Warning Order)
A – Approximate Plans. (Develop a rough “battle” plan)
D – Drive towards the objective. (Initiate early movement)
E – Eyes on the Battlefield. (Conduct reconnaissance)
R – Refine your plan.
S – Share the Vision, Plans, Goals, and Objectives. (Issue your orders)
H – Hold Accountable. (Check, Double check, check the checkers)
I – Integrate changes. (Adjust your plan)
P – Prepare to WIN! (Supervise Execution)

In Part I, we looked at the first three steps (L-E-A). This was enough to thoroughly understand requirements, get out some initial instructions to the team, and start building a plan. People are energized, plans are taking shape, leadership is happening. In Part II, we examined the next 4 elements (D-E-R-S) and got people moving while we completed the plan and shared it with others. Let's keep going!

Hold Accountable. Check, double check, and check the checkers. As your troops leave, no doubt inspired by your very presence and ready to give their lives for mission accomplishment (well maybe not quite yet!), know that your job as leader has just begun. Team members must begin the hard work of accomplishing the tasks that you have ordered. Your job is to follow-up…and follow-through. Check the line workers to assess if everyone is getting the message and to gauge how well your orders are being received. Listen and get feedback. Walk the halls and see (first-hand) if schedules are being met and change is occurring as intended. Determine for yourself if your vision has reached every soldier in every foxhole on the battlefield! Hold subordinate leaders (checkers themselves) accountable for meeting milestones and accomplishing assigned tasks (i.e. check the checkers).

IBM CEO Lou Gerstner (Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?) found that subordinates would only respect what the leader inspects and that the greatest failure for leaders was in “confusing expectation with inspection.” Most military leaders would agree. Checking the checkers holds people accountable for their part of the plan -- from top to bottom.

Integrate changes. Adjust your plan. Don’t fall in love with your plan. Recognize the old adage that “planning is priceless while plans are useless.” Since the standard for issuing initial plans and orders was “reasonable,” continue to gain feedback and integrate new information and emerging opportunities into your product. Be flexible. Don't become wed to the plan but view it as a work in progress and make changes as you go. Listen to your teammates and allow them to shape what will no doubt become a better, more executable product.

Prepare to Win! Supervise Execution. Recognize that no team is ready for the big game without practice – tons of it. Conduct rehearsals at every level to ensure a full understanding of the plan. Solve problems. Continue to train, even while fully engaged in execution. Decentralize decision making while remaining focused on task and purpose. Continue to circulate the battlefield and checking on the execution of the plan. Keep the lines of communication open and share information with the entire team.

These are Troop Leading Procedures. I hope you can print out the three parts of this discussion and spend some time looking at each step. Get your team together and go over what each element means in your organization and how you might better facilitate each step.

This is how we teach military leaders to receive instructions and turn them into action. So for those that OJT is the only training you received, I hope this helps. It works for me. Troop Leading Procedures are...Leader Business.

No comments: