Saturday, June 13, 2009

Warrior Ethos III

In the last several posts we have been imagining together a team joined by a common set of principles, a culture in which people believe in each other, who give everything for the mission and for their team. Imagine a group of diverse employees linked together by a unifying 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.

I will never accept defeat; I will never quit.

When mission is what drives us, there is nothing that can prevent us from reaching our goals. Neither the difficulty of our working conditions nor the strength of our opponent. Not the ticking of the clock and not the seeming impossibility of our task. Nothing can keep us from accomplishing our mission.

Except ourselves. When we allow anything less than 100% mission completion or when we quit before reaching our objectives we become the biggest reason why we don’t succeed. Winners don’t quit. Winners keep trying, keep looking for solutions, and keep working until they get it right.

I think this sentiment is best captured in the last verse of the Ranger Creed (I’ll talk about this creed used to describe elite Army Rangers soon):

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor!

Rangers don’t quit – no matter what! And this is the same mentality in the warrior ethos. If I am the only person working on this project, I will keep going. If others have given up, I will not! I will persevere!

Is this the mindset in your outfit? Well, it is if your team believes in the first part of the warrior ethos – mission first! In other words, we can’t place ourselves, our comfort, our pay, our petty differences, and our schedule first. We put the mission first. And our first and foremost responsibility is to do whatever it takes (within moral and ethical bounds) to win. Not usually, not most of the time…ALWAYS!

Leaders, there is no doubt that we operate under a microscope. As such, this issue is magnified to an even greater extent in everything we do. When our teammates see that we accept something less than the standard, we have just lowered the bar. When they see us stop trying, so will they. When they know that we have accepted defeat, they will begin each project, each initiative with a cynical, defeatist attitude.

This mindset is key for a warrior. It is not that we won’t ever be defeated. It’s that we don’t accept it. It’s not that we will always win. It’s that we will never quit. This sort of approach to business is transformational. People believe in themselves and their teammates. They know that they won’t be the lone survivor because they are surrounded by a like-minded team of teams who will fight for the mission and for each other.

Business leaders in this difficult economic climate; teachers in this seemingly impossible educational environment; preachers, politicians, policemen, construction workers, and consultants – never, ever, ever quit. Don’t accept losing. Embrace the positive, game-changing, difference-making way of the warrior. That’s Leader Business!

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