MOVING AN ORGANIZATION FORWARD AFTER CATASTROPHE

LSDS recently hosted a conversation between Lieutenant General (LTG) Darsie Rogers and Strategic Leadership Team Director, Colonel Brad Moses, to discuss a topic on many minds.

Leaders and Organizations don’t plan to fail nor are they eagerly awaiting the next catastrophic event. However, good leaders and organizations must have a measure of resilience to weather a storm.

  • How do leaders determine what is really catastrophic?

  • What communication strategies should you consider?

  • How do you assist young leaders who don’t yet have a great deal of experience at leading through difficulties?

Brad and Darsie’s 15-minute conversation is summarized below. Click to listen to the full 15-minute recording.


Interested in participating in the upcoming live Q&A session? Send your questions about the topic below, or anything else on your mind, to ops@lsds.us to be selected for this next engagement.

 

Leaders and Organizations don’t plan to fail nor are they eagerly awaiting the next catastrophic event. However, good leaders and organizations must have a measure of resiliency to weather a storm. What can you share from your experience about how leaders best prepare for the inevitable “tough times?”

How do leaders determine what is really catastrophic?

A catastrophe is an event causing great and often sudden damage. A disaster. This is a level of organizational disaster that affects people, finance, and morale simultaneously.

"As a new commander (CEO) of a large and geographically expansive organization. Earlier than planned because the organization had suffered a catastrophe. Over a two-year program this organization had failed to produce the results desired. Suffered a humiliating public hearing where all the shortcomings were exposed.


The first day on the job I meet with our higher HQs deputy commander who witnessed the shortcomings and exposure. Not a pleasant event. He described how the unit I was now in command of had failed the nation! I had never been spoken to like this before. He questioned the relevance and trustworthiness of my organization. This was a gut punch. We clearly had trust issues and friction.


My staff was demoralized and questioning the path forward. It was the perfect description of organizational catastrophe at that time.“

What communication strategies can you share that leaders should consider?


Collaboration and Directive leadership style: "We couldn’t just stop what we we’re doing as the mission had to continue. Correcting the problem while in flight. Address morale in the organization, address the mission at hand, and most importantly: apply positive and encouraging leadership to right the ship.


There were some directive actions that needed to take place. I had capable leaders. I applied a very delicate balance of directive and collaborative leadership. The wrong approach could have alienated the workforce immediately. Some immediate 'quick-fix' solutions and transition to an inclusive approach to the long-term issues. Empower the work force and repair what's been done and keep moving.

Understanding a leader’s Key point of presence: I was going to move forward to our critical operation but realized I needed to fix our staffing function to best enable the elements in the fight. I would stay with the staff in order to get the Headquarters moving in a positive direction. I focused two months of inclusive hands-on leadership with my staff."

Sometimes a leader's key-point of presence isn’t what is normal. Adjust to the requirements of the organization NOW to better enable the future (Horizons).

Set conditions to allow the organization to succeed.


The caution is that employees may perceive this as a lack of trust. This is a leader's prerogative and a hard call.

How did you communicate your intent?


"Based on need for clarity I had an 'all-hands' meeting with the entire staff to inform them that we were starting anew. We have a new focus…I don’t care what happened. I care what we do. Everyone in the organization has a roll in this. This served as a great icebreaker.


After that, I did leadership by 'walking around' and engaging the employees and listening to them. Digest and address what needed to be changed. This built an open communication with the staff that allowed them to understand my intent and them to have immediate feedback on their efforts. This rebuilt trust across the organization."

What are some good methods of applying lessons learned to assist younger leaders who don’t have a great deal of reps at leading through difficulties?

Be the example in crisis and catastrophe. "Leaders need to maintain their composure, step back for a few min and think about where you are. There may be a requirement for you to triage an event but think about the people around you to move the organization forward.


  • Manage the talent you have in the right direction.

  • Tailor your key directors to the approach you’re aiming at. Not every situation calls for a blunt object.

  • Apply the human dimension to problem solving, talent management and adjust as appropriate.

 

UP NEXT: Mentoring at All Levels with Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Dave Hubler and Brad Moses


Congratulations! You rose through the ranks. You’ve seen, received and applied mentoring at all levels. At times you probably needed it and didn’t know it. Alternatively, you knew you needed it and didn’t receive any. This conversation will reflect on the personal effect of both scenarios and how that shapes you as a leader at the senior levels.

  • Building an organization around talent that transcends the individual

  • Mentoring vs Coaching

  • Identify and build talent in high performing organizations

  • Empathy and Accountability

  • Interpersonal vs Transactional Leadership

  • Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Leadership - the criticality of both

Get involved at https://www.lsds.us/strategic-leadership-team.

Your questions will shape future “Dynamic Leadership Strategy” conversations!