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 A review WITH the troops.

After the Civil War, scattered on battlefields across the country, muzzle loaded rifles were found that had ended their service loaded and unfired. Many were found to be multiple loaded, with two, three and even more loads of wadding, powder and ball.

Sometimes leaders are much like the soldiers who engaged with multiple loaded weapons. They aim a lot but never recognize their ineffectiveness and the failures of their team that they have led into failure. They become lost in the smoke and the sounds of the situation and they continue to stack unfired loads into their misfired gun. Those who follow them are overloaded and suffer from new initiative fatigue. Their advancement and their morale become stagnant and stuck in a muddy trench.

History always fairly judges the performance of leaders.  Were they unaccomplished, uninspiring and misfired or did they shoot straight, surround themselves with winners and did they always take care of the troops?

In my mind, a great way for young leaders to become a great leader and to improve performance is to conduct frequent reviews WITH the troops verses reviews OF the troops.

I knew a Fireman who offered up a memorable quote after going through the promotional process. After receiving confirmation of his promotion he stated: “Yesterday, I couldn’t spell Lieutenant and today I ARE one.” His quote was considered humorous, but he did speak to the first, and I believe the most difficult, transition for the new fire officer.

If the new officer understands how and when to disarm themselves, establish true transparency, leave their personal ego and punitive thoughts deep in their coat pockets and establish real team trust, the WITH reviews will reveal the pulse of the team and the team will be more willing to follow because they feel included and important. The team members will come to expect the WITH reviews and they will be prepared to offer their realistic and important input. The Officer remains the Officer but moves from parading out front of a listless group to walking with a listening, involved and motivated team. The Officer has established a key component of leadership that will last throughout a career and that will, in large part, define their team as battle ready or battle weary.

What is the position of the troops? Do they feel fulfilled? Are their multiple missions realistic or is the leader multiple loading them until they can no longer do anything well? Are the troops delivering actual service during their multiple runs each day or are they just going on runs, wearing out themselves and their apparatus?

Do leaders measure the value and effectiveness of each load or do they value the measure of how many loads they can stack, with no consideration given to effectiveness or to the mental and physical impact on those who are carrying the load?

Young leaders must make early choices that will define them until it is time for their farewell to arms. Did they inspire, motivate, shoot straight, improve and mentor the team that they had or did they choose to blame the team, their predecessors and their inheritance for their performance and firing line failures? Will they be remembered for their high ground WITH team wins or for the ground that they gave back and their ability to deliver finely worded and uninspiring withdrawal speeches?

Ask the troops to measure the weight of their load and how it impacts their effectiveness.

Losers have to file past winners to begin their long walk home.

High ground leaders offer a coat tail and a strong hand to pull WITH those who follow.

Leaders who only aim and point become third on a match targets.

A lack of trust is always earned.

Don’t muzzle the team or stuff them with wadding.

How will you end your service?

Ready your aim for your fire.

Thanks for reading WITH, caring WITH and sharing WITH.

Have a great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.

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