TAKING OVER AN ORGANIZATION

LSDS recently hosted a conversation between Terry Peters and Strategic Leadership Team Director, Colonel Brad Moses, to discuss a topic on many minds.

  • What are some best practices for when you are heading into a new organization or environment?

  • What should you be mindful of?

  • What are some common myths when making a big career move?

Terry and Brad’s 15 minutes 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.

 

What are some proven ways to ensure you are reinforcing the best culture at the earliest possible time?


Review your personal values (or virtues), what are the organizational values….and how do you ensure they intersect. This keeps you genuine and people will know. “People don’t care how much you know as a leader; they need to know how much you care.”


All organizations have a human dimension that must be considered to be successful. When in doubt, use the Virtues that are 2,400 years old and transcend globally:


Trust, Temperance, Courage, Compassion, Wisdom, Hope, Justice


What methods have you used to orient the team to how you lead and your expectations?


Most people don’t wake up in the morning and decide “how can I mess things up at work today.”However, people need direction and guidance as well as purpose. Prioritize communicating to the people in your organization first.


Very quickly communicate your expectations and how you receive information. Stick to it or you’ll create schizophrenia in the organization and be on your heels. Candor is magical but surprisingly unexpected in our current culture.


When I became the Chief of Staff at USASOC my boss had just taken command. He gave me a great deal of authority in the Terms Of Reference, and, specifically, the budget. A $2.9billion annual operational budget and a $26bil 4yr acquisition budget. He hated the Byzantine-like bureaucracy and waste across the HHQ. I spent the first week talking with all the Directors and junior members of the staff that were in key roles (comptroller, IT folks etc.). Unprompted, I was usually met with the litany of “here’s why status quo is a really good idea.” I realized people had become accustomed to just rote processes and had become detached to the subordinate organizations and the requirements they were responsible for.


Having just come from 3RD Special Force Group I was one of those “customers.” I got on the emergency service intercom system for our building and called a meeting: “This is COL Moses. Your Chief of Staff…tomorrow all employees will meet outside of building 2929 in the plaza…This will be all civilian and military employees' place of duty."


AT 1100 the next day I stood on-top of the memorial to our fallen soldiers and started…I thanked everyone for their time. I made a reference to the 2000+ service members' names on our wall and why what you do is important. I told them USASOC has 29k people across 11 sub commands. Every day you come to work I need you to focus on one of 3 things...that’s it. USASOC provides resources to its elements PEOPLE, MONEY and EQUIPMENT...that’s it.


Having just come from one of the subordinate commands I gave specific examples how I used the money to build readiness and training for combat operations. I discussed the newly fielded vehicles and how transformational the product made our mobility. I explained how having the right men and women assigned to my unit allowed us to accomplish our mission. Once this was finished the feedback was tremendous. Multiple staff members who had worked there for years thanked me and said, “no one’s ever told us what happens to our efforts.” It became much easier to apply required process changes after that.


The 90-day Myth. What is it and is it real?


I have routinely heard Senior Military leaders state “Take 90 days to assess your organization before making any changes.” I have never had 90 days to assess any staff, section, or unit I was a leader of. Ever!


The sweet spot: There is a human dimension in all organizations. If you jump right in and cancel programs, make personnel changes, and stop programs you’re going to hurt some feelings. Even if the previous boss was jacked up there are people associated with accomplishing what they were told to do by your predecessor. Do the homework ahead of time to understand why “it happened that way.” Don’t argue this in public. Instead, have the organizational leaders articulate how they did something. This is helpful in applying people’s talent to accomplish what you want to change.


What are the most important things to communicate to the leaders above you in the org chart and stakeholders in the first 30 days?


Life is a struggle for limited resources.” Most organizations revolve around Products and Services ((even in SOF)). This requires resources that are in competition with other organizations. You must have the ability to articulate your resource requirements to your boss in terms that are aligned with his/her intent and end state. I can’t stand the phrase “the squeaky wheel gets the grease!” That’s what whiners do.P

How do you safeguard against creating an echo chamber where your direct reports tell you what you want to hear versus what you need to hear?


Talent management in your hiring process. Years of cronyism (we’ve all seen it) will lead to the “Emperor with no clothes on” environment. Hire the right talent and empower them to be challenging. This is difficult for most leaders who have been promoted based on success. If you’re honest with yourself, your successes are based on the performance of the teams you’ve led in the past.


Directive leadership will only last so long. “Because I said so...!” isn’t very empowering to the members of your organization who truly have the majority vote. Spend more time listening (to the right people) and you will make better choices.

 

UP NEXT: Moving an Organization Forward After Catastrophe with LTG Rogers and Brad Moses


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?

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


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