The United States Navy continually monitors the performance of its warships to ensure that they are always battle-ready. Over time, naval leaders noticed that some ships were performing at a higher level than others. This was puzzling because the ship classes were standardized, and the ships’ crews all came from the same manpower pool and identical training pipelines.
In the 1980’s the Navy sought to answer the question, “Why are some ships performing at a significantly higher level than others even though they are similarly manned and equipped?”
The answer they found was not surprising.
The differentiating factor for the high-performing ships was leadership. In the high-performing ships the Commanding Officers (CO) had articulated – often in writing – their leadership philosophies for their crews. In these leadership philosophies the CO’s made explicit their expectations, their values, their pet peeves, etc.
These written philosophies provided the CO’s with a “leader’s compass” that kept them on course and provided vital sailing orders to their crews.
Your personal leadership compass does not have to be complicated or long. In fact, it should be simple and short.
Above all it MUST be YOU.
Developing Your Philosophy
To develop your own leadership philosophy, start by writing down the answers to these questions:
• What are my values?
• What are my expectations of my team?
• What can my team expect from me?
• What things make me mad? What are things I cannot tolerate?
Answering these questions takes a concerted effort at “introspection”, or looking at yourself to see what type of leader you want to be, and how you can communicate that to your team. It takes time and effort to calibrate your leader’s compass.
In part 2 we will look at putting together a plan and give you an example to work from.
Photos Courtesy: Rob Cannon
Part 1 of 2