#51 The Times They are a Changin'

Last night as I was looking over my small source library, the book "Follow Me 1" by MG Aubrey 'Red' Newman, originally written in 1981 and updated in 1997 got my attention. This morning I started to thumb through it to see what caught my eye. The book's subtitle is "The Human Element in Leadership", which seems to follow nicely the general theme of most of my writing.

As I was flipping through, I came across the following passage:

"In Walter Reed hospital near the end of his life, Lieutenant General Huebner said in substance, 'People are important, things are not - and nothing is more important than the respect of one man for another.' So now we have this amplified relation: discipline must be imposed, but loyalty must be earned - yet the highest form of discipline exists only when there is mutual loyalty up and down."

This has been a very surprising and busy week. First, beginning next Monday I will have a new set of responsibilities. I will continue to serve as the Division's senior marksmanship instructor, but will also become responsible for the Division's training program for those individuals who are preparing to deploy. Most of the requirements are mandated from the Army, so it's more like managing the throughput of people, but I'm sure that there will be areas where the methods and thoughts I have developed might be able to have an impact. It's a matter of 'Orientation', and being able to get others to 'Orient' in a similar manner. More importantly, for the first time since returning from Iraq, I will again have troops subordinate to me for whom I am responsible. The time has come to re-enter the arena in a small way and lead Soldiers in the execution of a mission. For many this would be just another normal progressive event. However, after 3 years away and with the thoughts and ideas formed in the aftermath of my experience in Iraq, I don't take this change lightly. As I said once before, sitting here writing a blog or offering my opinion on something I read is one thing, but at some point it has to be put into action. Otherwise it is all just academic, armchair quarterbacking. I am reminded of an oft-quoted phrase, "Those who can't do, teach." It's time to see if 'doing' or 'teaching' is the way ahead for me. There is merit and need for both. I may have come to the fork in the road. I have been leading myself for the last 3 years and, of course, I like the results I get. I wonder if that particular leadership style and approach can be transferred to others....We'll see.

Second, this blog and a parallel one that I run on the Army's webpage blew up in a totally unexpected manner. Over the last month or so, I have increasingly participated in forum discussions and information exchanges within AKO (Army Knowledge Online). That introduced me to a person who then read this blog. She shared the link with some other people in her office and by the end of the week, it had been forwarded to some other high ranking folks who also expressed an interest. Throughout the week, I had some phone calls and exchanges with people who are interested in my thoughts and experiences, specifically with regard to Iraq and the aftermath, and the journey of leadership discovery I've started here. I want the thank G.E. and J.D for seeing something here that they deem worth reading. I am honored to be a small player in their process. It is also nice to know that the audience is growing.

Third, there was a 'bloggers' roundtable discussion this week between LTG Mark Hertling and the media regarding Initial Military Training (IME). The conversation itself centered on changes being made to IME in light of the needs of our current Army, a realization that physical fitness in recruits has declined and that it will take longer to develop them without injuring them, that we need to update our values and ethics training, and finally, that there are unique characteristics of the Millennial generation that the Army must address. In general, a lot of what I have been writing and commenting on since I started this. The important part though was how I found it. It was posted to the TRADOC group on Facebook! Wait, a 3 star general holding an information conference with bloggers and it was posted to a social media site? Wow! The times they really are 'a changin'.

The purpose of the OODA process is to shorten the decision - time cycle by learning to recognize yourself, your adversary, and the environment as quickly and clearly as possible to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. I suddenly find myself squarely inside my own OODA loop. Unfolding circumstances are happening in 'real time' and my mental and environmental 'comfort zones' are changing. It will be good to challenge my ideas and assumptions. Otherwise, I might begin to believe my own bullshit.

Trust and respect. These 2 ideas are intimately tied to each other. It is impossible to gain trust without first earning respect. Conversely, their can be no respect without an attendant element of trust. Discipline, both individual and group is the framework for building both. How discipline is exercised, imposed or displayed will have an marked effect on the measure of trust and respect reciprocated between the leader and the led.

Let me try 3 series of free-flowing thoughts and see if I can tie some of this together:

People are more important than things....people are the singular most important part of the Army....any organization requires a common value system and ethic to function....respect for both the person and the institution engenders trust....trust and respect are demonstrated through individual discipline and acceptance of group norms....

OODA can be applied to human leadership....senior leaders are recognizing the changing conditions (both human and environmental) and are trying to shorten the 'decision - time' cycle....

I will have the opportunity to put some of these thoughts into practice again....I am no longer so arrogantly self-confident that I can guarantee a particular outcome.... Iraq changed that. The outcome is not a forgone conclusion. In fact, there are as many possible outcomes as their are people involved. The important part is to be able to OODA that in 'real time'. The six views of every situation will be critical to remember. Now, the best that I can do is to remain firmly centered in my personal value system, recognize that others view our shared world differently than I do, clearly and plainly state the Task, Purpose and Intent, and demonstrate the respect for the talents and ideas of others that will engender trust. All because people are more important than things.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.