There was this maintenance back shop on base when I was a new Crew Chief that had these “Dirty Dozen” posters hanging up everywhere. To be honest, the corniness of them caught my eye; however, the simplicity of their message made them stick for many years. Recently, a friend reminded me of them and although they are meant for maintainers, they speak to every leadership failure I ever had.
Here they are with a brief leadership crossover:
– Lack of communication: Communication causes more issues in an organization than any other factor. We frequently assume our team understands and under-communicate the message or we choose the wrong method of delivering the message all together.
– Lack of Resources: We all wish we were given the resources we were promised. It is tough enough to fulfill the mission when we are at 100%; it is even more of a challenge when we are not. We need to treat the resources we do have extremely well and ensure we do not waste them.
– Complacency: This is something that is more of an issue than I originally thought. How could a complacent leader impact a good team? Well, I have learned (the hard way) that teams are a direct reflection of their leaders. When a good team gets a bad driver, they follow suit over time.
– Pressure: There are so many outside pressures levied upon leaders. I pride myself in my ability to shield my team from senior leaders. When we pressure our teams or let them feel the heat from our bosses, they can’t perform to their fullest capacity.
– Lack of Knowledge: “I don’t know” are the most powerful words a leader can say. When we are too afraid to admit we don’t something, we could steer the team or an individual into a terrible situation. Most of the time we have the expert on our team, let them shine.
– Lack of Assertiveness: Many leaders see something brewing and don’t step in to stop it or redirect it. Trust your gut and when red flags begin to raise, dig deeper and stop the issue in its tracks.
– Fatigue: We take work home. Work through lunch. Stay late. Etc. When you take ownership of a team, you never get to “turn it off”; however, texting someone at 0100 is probably a bit much. Look for ways to leave work behind and get a solid time management system.
– Stress: Stress takes away from your ability to function as a human being and especially as a leader. We have to have some form of stress meter in our heads to tip us off to when we need to step away for a moment. If we can’t get our heads clear, we are not going to make good decisions.
– Distraction: We are bombarded with requests for our time and energy. Once we get into a groove and feel like we are moving our team forward, another distraction derails us. We have to learn to see distractions coming and side step them. Most of the time, we can simply say, “I am working on X right now, could you bring this to me in the morning?” I actually have distraction time built into my daily routine…and it works well.
– Lack of Awareness: Not being on the ground level of what is going on is very dangerous. Many leaders have no clue what struggles their teams face and forget what it was like when they were in their shoes. We focus more on the demands of the boss and less of the environment of the people.
– Lack of Teamwork: There is no reason we are not able to help our peers’ teams succeed. We learn to form-storm-norm-perform in PME and whip our teams into tip-top shape, but forget everyone in the squadron or wing is on the same team. We can often add value to the team of a peer.
– Norms: Norms bite me in the butt all of the time. Just because something is done a certain way doesn’t mean it has to continue. I have found that many of the norms in my shop are based on solutions to yesterday’s problems. They worked then, but are not necessary today. I love challenging myself to find other options and foster an environment to where my team can succeed.