Win Friends and Influence People as a Field Grade Leader

A Guest Post by Kyle Trottier

If you are going to close the deal, generate and preserve options, and enable units to accomplish their mission, you must understand how to handle people. Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” proposes three principles to handle people: 1) Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain; 2) Give honest and sincere appreciation; and 3) Arouse in the other person an eager want. By applying these principles, field grade leaders will be better prepared to successfully improve their organizations and lead their units towards mission accomplishment.

.S. military personnel assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, along with French Foreign Legion soldiers, attend a desert commando course in Arta, Djibouti. Through unified action with U.S. and international partners in East Africa, CJTF-HOA conducts security force assistance, executes military engagement, provides force protection, and provides military support to regional counter-violent extremist organization operations in order to support aligned regional efforts, ensure regional access and freedom of movement, and protect U.S. interests.

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Barry Loo

Leadership Thoughts

Diverse and Divergent Thinking

Do you get frustrated when someone throws roadblocks in the way of progress? I certainly do. I get really, really angry when someone on the staff derails progress, focusing on why a plan will fail instead of figuring out how to make it succeed. There is always someone who starts with no, focusing on every regulation, doctrinal imperative, and potential friction point to prevent action. But what’s the true source of this frustration? Is it truly about the organization, or does it become personal when someone challenges your work? Effective leaders realize that it isn’t about being right or wrong. Intelligent organizational leaders use diverse and divergent thinking to make projects stronger rather than letting their ego get in the way. Here are three quick thoughts on using divergent thinking to the team’s advantage – the change starts with you.

Photo by Spc. Audrequez Evans

A Soldier in Basic Combat Training with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Jackson, S.C., exits the Skyscraper obstacle by falling several feet onto a mat at the confidence course, June 22.

 

Empathy: In the context of conflict, empathy is your ability to appreciate someone else’s perspective. Rather than writing someone off as an obstacle, have the patience to think through their concerns without bias. A good perspective is that analyzing these arguments only strengthens your initiative.

Humility: I am a flawed leader – I often take conflict or disagreement personally. In the context of professional disagreement, humility reminds me that my initiatives and approach are always flawed. Facets of my plan will always be flawed, and divergent perspectives can be credible.

Compromise: Once a leader has considered divergent perspectives and applied critical analysis to their approach, they can pursue stronger initiatives and plans. Good leaders compromise, understanding that being right is less important than collaborative inclusion.

Organizational leadership is not about being right. Organizational leadership is about maximizing the diversity of a team through collaborative inclusion.

Check out more thoughts on improving your organizational leadership here

 

The Other Side of Organizational Leadership

A guest post by Robert G. Olinger

“Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization” (ADRP 6-22, 1 August 2012, p. 1-1). As Army leaders, we are well versed in leading to accomplish the mission. We begin our careers at the direct leadership level, having daily face-to-face contact with those in our charge, and getting the job done. As organizational leaders, we must place more focus on the second aim of leadership – to improve the organization. However, we still have direct leadership responsibility in our staff sections.

Sentinel Spc. Preston Millison, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), conducts his last walk at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Dec. 6, 2016. Millison is badge holder number 633 and has served at the Tomb since June 2014. (Photo by Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson)

Leadership Thoughts

More Effective Communication Through Listening

As leaders, time is usually our most valuable resource (as previously discussed here). Since time is often scarce, it may appear wasteful to invest in communication that appears inefficient. Stated more directly, why waste time interacting with a subordinate who can’t get to the point or doesn’t have one? Before shutting down a conversation to save time, think about some of the other factors at play. First, think about what the other person is trying to achieve. Even if it is just small talk, they are usually attempting is to establish a relationship. If they are complaining, they consider you a trusted agent or someone who can influence change. A few seconds of thought are helpful in identifying their purpose. Next, think about your leadership role broader than the context of your daily tasks. As a leader, you probably internalize the responsibility of professional development. A person-to-person interaction in the headquarters is likely more valuable than a formal, group leader development session. In this context, investing time in junior leaders may be the most important thing you do all day. Finally, think about the example you are setting as a professional. If you are the leader who never has time to listen, junior leaders will likely model your behavior. Just like in small units, good leaders have time for their people. Time is scarce, and likely your most valuable commodity. Take a few moments to reflect on how to most effectively use your time today. Is your inbox more important than interacting with your people?

Life after S3 and XO – Recommendations on Proactive Assignment Planning

A Guest Post by Rick Montcalm and Adam Brady

‘Tis the season of reflection. All the leadership and military blogs are awash with articles from Majors completing their key developmental jobs, capturing fresh insight and prime takeaways from what has likely proven the most demanding 18-24 months of their military careers to date. Every unit is different. Every commander is different. Therefore, every experience is a bit different. The number of articles and essays and the breadth of their focus demonstrate the complexity and challenge of key-developmental assignments. This article deviates from those highlighting the incredibly important processes, roles, and systems that make or break S3s and XOs. Here, the focus is on a matter that is often overlooked or overcome by competing demands: the planning process for post-KD assignments.

Nov. 6, 2014

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy J. Fowler

Make the Most of Your Time in Graduate School

A Guest Post by Zachary Griffiths

With an Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) scholarship, the Army sends officers to civilian graduate schools. Last Thursday, I completed a Master’s of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Coming off a demanding staff assignment, I thought graduate school would be easy. However, balancing school, with its classes, homework, and extracurricular opportunities, with family and social engagements was tough. Below are my seven recommendations for things to consider if you’re starting graduate school this fall, are in graduate school, or are planning to attend in the future.

March 16, 2012 – Photo by Timothy L. Hale

The Executive Officer

A Guest Post by Major David Chichetti

“The XO is a systems guy.” After spending the entirety of my key developmental time as an XO at the battalion and brigade level, I can say, with a good degree of certainty, that this statement is true. Systems are everything. The deftness at which you can develop and refine these systems will be a measure of your success in this position. But before you begin to wade into the never-ending minutiae of regulations, doctrine, emails, meeting notes and random statistics, you need your own routine to manage information and sustain your professional development. Balancing all this is both a challenge and a true test. The purpose of this article is to share some techniques and resources I learned to utilize as an XO to sustain my sanity while “managing up.” Hopefully, it will mitigate the initial shell shock you receive when your inbox hits the 100(+) emails a day mark.

Aug. 13, 2014 – U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook

Four Leader Life Hacks to Improve Emotional Intelligence Today

Now that we have a better understand of what emotional intelligence is, here are four leader live hacks to improve your capacity – apply one today!

Self Awareness

  • Solicit feedback from subordinates – use the Army’s 360 Assessment or create iterative Survey Monkey feedback mechanisms

Relationship Management

  • Focus on others and optimizing their input to the team
  • Foster diversity of thought

Emotional Control

  • Don’t suppress your emotions – manage them
  • Refocus negative energy on gaining a better understanding of the problem, alternate perspectives, and creative solutions

Self Management

  • Take ten minutes each day to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses – make it part of your personal battle rhythm
  • Incorporate subordinate feedback into your personal goals

Still looking for more? Check out these resources focused on leading the staff!

The Field Grade Leader in a Stryker Formation

My first experience with Strykers was as a field grade officer after service in both Armor and Light formations. The Stryker formation is powerful, but only if leaders understand its true capabilities and limitations. This article highlights the strengths of a Stryker formation and how field grade leaders enable success by exploiting those relative advantages.