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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Are you first or last in line?

In the Army, when they're in the field or out on maneuvers, an implied rule is officers are supposed to eat last...after their soldiers do.

It's not always something overly intuitive to young lieutenants. They learn quickly, however, when they get in line with everyone else and then are pulled aside by some higher ranking officer and set straight.

In the modern military, no one is going to go hungry...the worst that might happen is that the cooks run out of the main course and the officers might have to do with leftovers or something less appealing.

Still, there is strong symbolism here. You take care of your people because the people perform the mission...not the leaders. You ensure they're properly clothed and fed, rested and trained. You see to it that they're properly led. Without the soldiers, the leaders are nothing. Some of the officers "get" the symbolism, responding accordingly...and some never do.

It's no different in the civilian world. Do we not realize? Are we too busy with our own projects and problems? Is it too much trouble or that we just don't know how to do it. Do we not care?

OR is it that we think we deserve to be first in line? After all, we've invested a lot of time and effort to help the company grow and be stronger. While there are perks that come with working your way to the top of an organization, we can never afford to let a core leadership principle -- taking care of our people -- slip away from us.

Take a look at your organization and try to determine the commitment level the leadership has to the workers. If you're not happy with what you see, then maybe it's time to start working on a culture shift.

You won't truly have your team's commitment until they know they have yours.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic rule. I suspect if we used this rule in the business world we would not be having discussions about excesses in executive compensation.


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