Throughout my military career, I have had many opportunities to serve under, serve with, and serve for outstanding leaders. Leaders that easily differentiated themselves as the best. A cut above. Leaders that I hoped to emulate.
Looking back, in my opinion, these leaders embodied more than a few common characteristics. These characteristics have not only formed my understanding of leadership but guide me when selecting those organizations and teams that I want to be a part of today. Leaders that, even when faced with high stakes decisions and lives in the balance, understand the true value of what they had to lose and what they had to gain. When scanning the horizon prior to making a decision, that they understood that there is more that they can’t see than what they can see. Leaders that sought out diversity of thought and action to fill those gaps and reduce the uncertainties when making decisions in combative environments. Those that desired more than one ‘good’ option and realized that good ideas had no rank.
I believe that I can summarize these leadership characteristics into one word: invested.
An Invested Commander understands the weight of decision making when human life is in the balance and seeks out diversity of thought and action to accomplish mission objectives.
As a second lieutenant my first opportunity as a platoon leader to make ‘combat decisions’ was actually in a command post exercise (think computer enabled war game where senior leaders exercise their planning and decision making processes, while their orders are carried out in a virtual environment). Looking back, I am appreciative of the fact that my initial mistakes resulted in me getting yelled at for putting the lives of bits and bytes at risk instead of the lives of the soldiers placed within my care.
Out all of the lessons I learned from that event (and there were many), the one that is just as vivid today as it was back then revolved around my concern that I would not be able to successfully perform the task that I was given. When I asked my commander what would happen if my plan resulted in us not being successful, he looked at me intently, paused, and said…
‘Then, you will be fired’.
He promptly turned around and walked away. Not that I needed to hear anything else.
It is my belief, so much so that it is a core value, that high stakes environments necessarily require that decisions have an owner. In addition, the stakes associated with that decision requires action. Something must be done. A decision must be made. Lives are in the balance.
So…own the decision. Understand that there are consequences (a neutral term, encompassing both good and bad consequences) that will result from that decision. Resolve to the fact that if those decisions do not simultaneously take into account the accomplishment of the mission and the welfare of those carrying out those decisions, then you should be fired.
That is why it is my desire for every invested commander to have a mission command system in their hands that provides a clear, concise picture of the contextual situation including critical knowledge needed for sound decision making.
Systems that reveal operational context leaders have been blind to, reduce the uncertainties associated with a combative environment, and ensure that invested leaders will receive better ideas throughout all echelons and iterations.
Why? Because lives are in the balance! And invested commanders will always take into account the value of human life when accomplishing the mission.
Therefore, I desperately need high stakes leaders to have a technological framework that supports their character, and appropriately takes into account the value of human life, while accomplishing the mission.
I need those leaders to be around. To NOT be fired. And especially to not be fired because they didn’t have mission command systems needed to give them the right understanding when a decision needs to be made.
We are Michael Rainey and Associates. We design mission command systems that (1) reveal operational context with which leaders have been blind, (2) reduce the uncertainties associated with combative environments, and (3) receive better ideas throughout all echelons of your organization.
Tell us the problem you are trying to solve!