Saturday, June 20, 2009

Warrior Ethos IV

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.

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. We finish this series with this post about the final tenet: I will never leave a fallen comrade.

When times are tough, nothing matters more than to know that you are not alone. Being part of a team, something bigger than yourself, means that no matter what difficulties you encounter, someone will be there to pick you up. Someone has your back.

To a military warrior, this principle means that they can go into battle knowing that they will never be left behind. Should they fall, a fellow soldier will be there to pick them up. Should they be captured, their teammates will never stop in their attempts to rescue them. They can be comforted knowing that the resources of a nation will be leveraged to bring them home. No matter what. Think Blackhawk Down (for those who have seen the movie or read the book) and you will understand the warrior's willingness to do anything to retrieve a fallen comrade! Think about the many programs the military has for its wounded warriors and you will understand a lifelong commitment to never leave anyone behind.

How might this sort of principle apply to those of us who are not facing hostile fire?

-- Leaders accepting responsibility for the shortcomings of the team rather than letting a subordinate take the blame.
-- Project members staying late to complete the task rather than those who finish their portion and leave others to struggle on their own.
-- Leaders who never ask people to do something that they won't do themselves. Leaders who are willing to get their hands dirty, who lead by example.
-- Leaders who forbid bias and discrimination within their ranks and will not allow prejudice to minimize or squelch the potential of others.
-- Leaders who invest in the development of their teammates knowing that they were themselves made better through the training, mentorship, and developmental opportunities provided to them.
-- Companies who lend a hand-up to help small businesses get started.
-- People who are generous in the giving of their time, energy, and resources to enable the success of their fellow man, who share the riches of life and the fruits of their labors with others.

The bible says it this way: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is the glue that holds teams together. People who think less of themselves and more of others. Teammates who pick each other up, help each other out, defend one another no matter the personal cost.

Teams like this cannot be pulled apart. Their weaknesses are covered, their strengths are magnified. Most importantly their successes are not those of the individual but that of the team: Mission Accomplished. That's the warrior ethos. And that is Leader Business.

1 comment:

James T. Parsons said...

Hey Tom,

Funny thing is that I recently realized that much of your teaching seems familiar to me since my father repeated many of these same ideas to me as I grew up(in some form or another), which he employed when he was an Army Major, which he learned from his dad, who was an Army Colonel.

Always see that the lesser members of your team often are as important to your success, regardless of their rank; leaders take responsibility for the failures, but make sure to encourage their followers and crediting them with successes; listen to those below you, in case you are missing something, but be strong enough to make the tough calls and engage the team in the objective; etc.

Although I was never in the military, I only realized that I was shaped by many of its lessons. I see leadership is driven by the idea of the team, and the role of the leader within that team. As the President of a non-profit, I tend to employ those lessons repeatedly and I think our team is doing well, even in bad economic times.

I am glad that you are doing such great work conveying those lessons to the non-military... since the importance of teamwork through a military perspective is what is needed in business today.