Perhaps you’ve heard the antiquated phrase: “bosses push, leaders pull”
Well maybe there’s a better solution that doesn’t lie at the outer edges. What if the best leaders were those that pushed and pulled at the same time?
In the military there is a concept called leading up and down the chain of command, described in great detail by Jocko Willink and Lief Babin in their breakout book “Extreme Ownership.”
True leaders realize that everyone in an organization is a leader. They represent the brand, they lead at their specific task. Everyone is a champion of the cause, and therefore can lead up or down the “chain of command.” The concept of extreme ownership that Willink and Babin espouse extends to every member of the team.
Presidents and upper level executives need to own their programs, results, and everything that their team does. They don’t just take credit for progress, they own the mistakes and shortcomings of their team and realize that more clear instruction, guidance, and education from their end could have produced a more desirable result.
Managers need to own their own areas and be sensitive to what upper management needs to make strategic decisions. If managers don’t buy into the mission, team members working for those managers never will. Finally, the boots-on-the-ground workers need to own their tasks, and understand the WHY behind WHAT they are doing every day to propel the organization forward.
There are a few steps that need to happen to enable this model, which exponentially taps into the potential of an organization more than any one person acting unilaterally ever could. In this model, junior leaders (middle management) and team members (technicians, customers service, etc…) can SEEK Ownership™ because they are:
- SOLICITED for input into organization mission. They BUY-IN to what the organization is trying to achieve. They are communicated with clearly every step of the way.
- EQUIPPED with tools and resources to effectively manage their projects. They are aware of limitations and constraints, and own these limitations to drive productivity in spite of them.
- EMPOWERED to make decisions that are in line with the company’s mission, vision, values, and goals. They will know what to decide, and when, because they are familiar with the “commander’s intent,” or the over-arching design of the company’s strategic mission.
- KNOWLEDGEABLE about their trade or skill, and their industry. They are trained to be the experts in their field, the best at what they do. This leads to the self-efficacy and confidence it takes to make strategic decisions. They are also knowledgeable about how their specific role, task, or project fits into the overall mission. They are continuously reminded of this through company culture events and strategic gatherings. They are familiar with the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats their organizations face.
You guessed it, all of this culminates in OWNERSHIP.
You want OWNERS on your team, not employees. This takes time. It takes patience. It takes being proactive instead of reactive. It must be reflected in bonus and compensation packages, and must be clear to anyone viewing the daily activities of your organization. Your diligence in the SEEK Ownership™ model will yield results that will far surpass your wildest expectations. We are always greater than me.