Today, we’re going to cover the first lesson from Starship Troopers. This is the first lesson in the mini-series. If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.
Lesson # 1: Set a Good Example, Hold Your People Accountable, and Expect Them to Do The Same With Their Subordinates
Quote: “But Jelly didn’t have to maintain discipline among privates because he maintained discipline among his non-coms and expected them to do likewise.”
My Take: In the Army your job is to lead your direct reports and then to make sure they lead their Soldiers. At most, you never want to manage more than two levels down. One of the most common mistakes in the military is micro-managing your people and trying to do their job for them. Here are a couple examples:
- A commanding general is obsessed with how well trained the platoons and companies in the division are
- A Company Commander is managing his unit all the way down to the team level
- A Platoon Sergeant is handling an individual Soldier’s issue in their platoon
There might be some rare occasions when this is necessary, but 95% of the time it’s not necessary. In fact, it’s micro-managing. What you are really doing is doing your subordinates’ job for them. And that is a complete disservice to your subordinate leaders. Remember your job is to train and supervise NO MORE than two levels deep.
More importantly, you need to empower your subordinate leaders and make sure they do their job right. Don’t do their job for them. And don’t micro-manage. If you are so busy doing their job for them, you won’t have any time to do your job. And you certainly won’t be preparing them for success in combat or in their career.
I saw this all the time in the military and I realize how easy it is to do. Heck, I’ve been guilty of it myself. After all, it’s easy to micro-manage when you have a poor performing Soldier as a direct report. But look, you don’t want to fall into this trap. Remember, set a good example, hold your people accountable and expect them to do the same with their subordinates. Follow that advice and you can’t go wrong.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.