Years ago while studying at The School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS)– every Friday a student would bring lunch for the class. This started out simple; pizza, sub sandwiches, but over time things began to escalate. I think it all started with lasagna, followed with tri-tip steak, and finally we were eating beef bourguignon with fresh baked bread- it was crazy good. The following Friday our classmate “Meat” showed up with Little Caesars cheese pizza–threw it on the counter and said…”I’m deescalating!”
To “Meat” it was just time to simplify. So how do we apply that to leadership? Let’s just make it simple.
In that light I started pondering what would we tell our new commanders their responsibility was if we had to draw it out on a piece of paper. After flipping through John Adair’s book Effective Strategic Leadership I offer the diagram below.
Too simple? Not simple enough?
First: What sort of leader are you? Strategic, Operational, or Tactical…nothing is more confusing than having a tactical leader in a strategic position. The leader must understand and grow/develop into the position. What a leader was doing at the tactical level will no longer work when he/she moves to the operational or strategic level.
What is your area of need…as a leader, what are we trying to accomplish? Any matter involving leadership has three elements or variables that must be balanced and mastered for success.
The Leader/individual: Qualities of Personality and Character
The Task/Situation: Partly constant/Partly variable
The Group/Followers: Their needs and values
If the common task is achieved, for example, then that tends to build the team and to satisfy personal human needs in the individual. Adair comments that if there is a lack of cohesiveness in the team circle (a failure of team maintenance) then clearly performance in the task area will be impaired and the satisfaction of individual members reduced.
A Leader’s functions are pretty basic as well:
Define the task: What do we do here? What is our job? The leader MUST lay out goals, mission, and vision
Planning/Strategy: How will we do this?
Briefing: Inspire, communicate the strategy clearly
Controlling: A leader must find and engage time, money, people, and other resources
Supporting: A leader must establish organizational standards and values (and adhere to them)
Informing: Communication, supply information, two way feedback, and establish a strong linkage between the leader and team
Reviewing: Develop, monitor, and evaluate performance criteria
If a leader, be it at the tactical, operational, or strategic level, clearly understands and articulates the shapes of leadership…half the leadership battle is won.