Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Drumbeat

Hello Friends,

I have been negligent in writing. I have no excuse! I used to have the energy and time to post twice per week. And now...well, I won't even count the weeks since I last posted. I guess I have been busy with things at work. I know, I know...who isn't? But my job here in Afghanistan is somewhat consuming. But it is also fertile ground for learning more about leadership. So, it is not for a lack of stuff to talk about. It is mostly from a lack of energy to put this stuff in writing.

This has been an amazing opportunity for me. As most of you know, I am deployed to Afghanistan, serving with the Army Corps of Engineers as the Commander (CEO) of a $5B construction company. We have an incredible workload and doing it in an environment where every project has a story. They are all difficult: rough terrain, many inexperienced contractors, and of course, the presence of bad guys who don't want this program to succeed.

But the bottom line is, we have to win. That means we've got to accomplish our mission. No matter what! We are climbing a mountain that is almost vertical, increasing our output in every part of our program. We have to find a way to push ourselves to levels we didn't think possible. We have to change our tactics, find efficiencies, and blow through obstacles that will undoubtedly be found along the way.

Our overall strategy is simple: Meet our commitments; deliver finished projects; and Build projects while building capacity within the Engineering and Construction community of this country. There are no excuses! Every day matters. Every person contributes. We have to do whatever it takes to get the job done!

My former boss and great mentor and friend, Randy Castro, called this a drumbeat. To accomplish a large vision or tackle an insurmountable task requires consistent focus on the main elements that contribute to success. There are many important tasks (projects). They all must be accomplished. But the team needs to know where their piece fits in the overall picture. They need to hear the drumbeat over and over. This is the vision and this is how we will get there!

Our teammates need to hear and understand this drumbeat. Why is it important? How will we get there? How does what they into the overall mission? How do they get in step with the beat of the drum? This is what I cover every single day with my senior leaders. It affects what we measure. It shapes our calendars and meetings. It is what I talk to my team about at every forum (town hall sessions, video interviews, emails, project visits, etc.).

It's a drumbeat. Over and over again -- this is what we are doing, this is where we stand now, and this is what we need to do to be successful, to accomplish the mission, to win! Meet our commitments; Deliver finished projects; and build projects while building capacity within the Engineering and Construction community of this country. Hear the drumbeat: boom...boom...boom! Always the same beat, same rhythm, and the same message.

So...what is your drumbeat? If you had to summarize what success looks like into short sentences, sound bites, or milestones...what would they be? Would your teammates know that is what is important? Would they be able to repeat the drumbeat. Truth be told, that is the goal. We should hear it wherever we go within the organization, everyone focused on the same thing. The drumbeat...over and over.

We can't be all over the place. As leaders, we must be consistent. The drumbeat is what helps people understand the vision, share our passion or our sense of urgency, and focus on those difference making contributions that add up to overall victory. It keeps people marching to the beat, everyone in step, all headed in the same direction.

As we head into 2011, let's do it with a drumbeat. I told you mine. You tell me yours! That is what it will take to overcome obstacles, find victories in this tough economy, and to keep people focused on the prize. Beat the drum -- over and over. That should make for a successful, prosperous New Year. Forward...march!!! Happy New Year everyone!!
Credits go to "Tim" for the image at the top of this post!


Rick Beauregard said...

My Drumbeat:

I capture greater value when I create compelling value for others.

Simon Sinek has a great video on this (search "Start with Why" on YouTube). When we start with why and engage people who believe what we believe, then explain how and what we do, we attract loyal followers. In marketing parlance, we attract the early adopters.

My New Year's Revolution: Start with WHY.

Happy New Year to you and all the troops serving in harm's way. We hope to see you home soon!


Follow me on Twitter @Beaugy

Aridog said...

Colonel .....

I finally got around to buying a couple copies of your book, one for a friend who I think can benefit from it. I'm buying another today for direct shipment to another friend I think can benefit. For some reason, it's been a pesky busy year, even retired.

I'll give you feedback once I've read it fully twice ... a habit of mine on written words ... no snap judgments, etc. Knowing you for the brief period that I did, I've no doubts I'll be pleased, or at least encouraged, with what I read.

Me, I don't lead anyone anymore, but I am dismayed by many of those in offices of power who do, or don't in my opinion. One of the things I respect most among your posts is the relatively (11 Nov 2010) recent one: "The Stop Doing List."

That post expresses the KISS principle better than any I've read elsewhere, and speaks in terms most anyone can grasp. If they just would. Itself it is "kept simple."

I can't say what I'd like nor ask what I'd like over AKO or "dot mil" email systems. Maybe later.

Take care.

Dick Thompson
USACE-Detroit, Retired.

Leadership Development said...

Read your post. Interesting that you are in Afghanistan. Well, leader is one who has to perform at any cost no matter what circumstances he is facing. If he is confident, his team will be confident to fulfill any task. Thanx