Tag Archives: Understanding

Marine Corps Leadership: Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished

"What do you mean you couldn't read my mind?"

“What do you mean you couldn’t read my mind?”

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” – Ronald Reagan

I have said for the last few years, “unspoken expectations will be unmet expectations every time!” While that might be an extreme statement, it is meant to convey the reality of the principle, tasks must be given with authority and expectations.

There will be limited success if a task is given without the proper authority and expectations. Authority allocates the power needed to accomplish the task, expectations ensure the task will be completed in the desired way.

However, giving the proper amount of authority and expectations only ensures the task or project is started off correctly. In order to ensure it stays on track there must be a level of accountability.

This is where leaders or managers tend to struggle. For most, accountability becomes synonymous with either, micro management or authority. I’ve heard it said, when you delegate a task you get to determine it’s outcome, but not how it looks before it gets there. Micro-management demoralizes and exhaust initiative. Giving authority alone can create anxiety from wondering if what is being done is actually what the leader is wanting done. Or worse, confidence in what is being done is what is desired, only to find out at delivery that the task was completed incorrectly.

Accountability can be a series of direct-report meetings over time,with the leader asking questions to determine the condition of the direct and the status of the task. This process allows the direct to maintain given expectations, or pivot as necessary; as well as giving the leader a clear, over-all understanding of the project, allowing him to encourage or admonish as necessary. Thus being being involved with the project or task through the end, with out having to “manage” every detail.

How do you manage or delegate without micro-managing? 

What keeps leaders from sharing expectations?

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Leadership is: Understanding

Is a lack of communication and understanding acceptable to us?

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding. – Marshall McLuhan

As leaders it is easy to get caught up in our tasks. We desire for our team members to know and understand what it is we need and want from them, and if we aren’t careful we won’t give them a second thought unless something involving them is hindering our own process.

Once, I asked for a consistent weekly meeting with my leader to give direct reports and to stay on the same page (have understanding). They responded with, “I didn’t think you were that immature that you need me to hold your hand.” To be honest, my relationship with that leader lost some of its luster that day. From that point on, it felt like a lack of understanding and communication between us was acceptable.

So you don’t lose your shine, here are 3 steps to winning over your employees by Inc. Magazine: http://www.inc.com/3-steps-to-winning-over-your-employees.html

When we don’t communicate for mutual understanding with our team members it is a recipe for disaster! In reality, lack of communication and understanding will drive away your high performers. I’ve written about some habits of effective communication here and here.

Carl Robinson, from Advanced Leadership Consulting, has a great list on more of what drives away great performers here: http://leadershipconsulting.com/why-great-employees-quit.htm

In order to be effective, understanding leaders, we must practice these 2 habits:

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