Monday, February 13, 2012

Leaders Look for Results Instead of Salutes

"Look for results, not salutes.” This is a great quote that comes from a chapter in Captain D. Michael Abrashoff’s book, It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy. In it he describes how he broke down the time honored traditions of officer/enlisted separations. Not completely, of course, but enough to make a harmonious difference.

It takes just simple things sometimes to make a difference, and to show that you, as a manager/supervisor, are part of the team and not just the overseer. For instance, Captain Abrashoff talks about taking his place at the end of the food line at steel beach picnics (cookouts on the flight deck). This just normally is not done – officers go to the front. It wasn’t long, of course, before other officers took his cue and were doing the same thing. Going to the end of the line was one of many ways of showing his crew that he genuinely cared for them and he was working WITH them.

You can easily use these same types of techniques in civilian business. Just like the military, we also have ranks and privileges – executive parking spaces, cafeterias, even restroom’s. But take a look at the difference in where you spend most of your time. In your office – which is segregated far from the lower ranks?

I often talk about Tom Peters' concept of MBWA (management by wandering around). Step out of your hideout and become part of the team. Make it habit to eat in the break room once a week. Give staff the opportunity to talk with you freely, whether they’re happy about something or concerned. This is where new ideas and improvement comes from.

From 12/19/08