Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Warrior Ethos II

Imagine a team joined by a common set of principles. Imagine a culture in which people believe in each other, who give everything for the mission and for their team, who never, ever quit. Imagine a group of diverse employees unified around a simple set of core beliefs.

The Warrior Ethos is a set of principles by which every soldier lives. It is a reminder of one's true priorities -- mission and each other. It becomes a rallying call when times are difficult; one that inspires people to press on, to never lose focus, and to subordinate self for something much bigger.

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Mission First. Not career first. Not money first. Not personal comfort first. Mission. A warrior refuses to allow anything to come between him or her and accomplishment of the mission. They understand their task and give everything they have to make it happen.

Warriors subordinate everything to the mission. They don't think in terms of billable hours but in terms of completed tasks. Warriors don't watch the clock; they watch the progress bar. They demonstrate drive and determination in everything they do and will not stop until they have completely satisfied their customers, no matter the cost.

Teammates who put mission first create trust. There are no hidden agendas among warriors who are only interested in whatever it takes to complete the assignment. They hold each other accountable, knowing that it takes a team of teams to be successful, each doing their part which in sum leads to victory. No dares let another down. Individuals become team members who think less about their differences and more about how they are unified around a single concept -- mission accomplishment.

In a previous assignment, I was asked to reorganize my team of trainers to meet the changing needs of the Army. I resisted. I had become very comfortable with my team and how we operated. I liked them, they liked me, and we enjoyed what we did. But the truth was that we were not focused on our mission, we were focused on ourselves. We cared less about those whom we were being asked to train and more about how we could fight the proposed changes. The mission was not first!

Be sure that when I announced to my team that we were flawed in our thinking, that it was not about us but rather those whom we served, that we would focus on our new mission, there was some resistance. But this sentiment was quickly replaced by a newly inspired team of teams who understood our priorities, who dispensed with false pretenses, and who subordinated self for the mission. Our customers were thrilled and our team became better and closer than ever before, unified by a single focus: Mission Accomplishment!

So what about you and your team? Do you think and act in accordance with this principle? Let's face it. Many people will say that mission is first but they will act as if they come first. Mission becomes a means to an end. That is how we get projects that come in late, products that don't function as advertised, and organizations that are not built to last. Teammates do not trust each other, people are afraid to take risks or be bold because of self-preservation, and the mission becomes lost in office politics and bureaucratic processes. Customers know it and go somewhere else.

Is mission really first? Are you and your team willing to do whatever it takes, no matter the personal cost and sacrifice, to finish your assignment? Are you focused like a laser on this one priority -- execution?

Warriors put mission first. That is the key to the warrior ethos. And that is Leader Business.

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