When was the last time you had one of your Soldiers say “I didn’t know?” Does this happen in your small unit regularly? What’s the root cause? You may have told the trooper about an action or event, but did you make him or her understand what you or the chain of command wanted? We all communicate every day – but we sometimes don’t communicate effectively.
When was the last time you texted one of your Soldiers? Is sending a text message a reliable form of communication? Is sending an email effective? What about a phone call?
Let me ask you this: how often do you have your Soldiers in a formation? What do you do at the formations you do have? The single most effective form of communication involves physical contact. Nothing takes the place of looking Soldiers in the eye and passing along information. You may think that “this generation” understands and interprets electronic traffic better than they do. With all the electronic means available to all levels of the chain of command today – why do we still bring Leaders together to brief orders? Why not just do it electronically? Because we don’t get our intent across over email or text – we get it across using presence. ADP6-22 defines presence as “The impression a leader makes contributes to success in getting people to follow. This impression is the sum of a leader’s outward appearance, demeanor, actions and words.” You just can’t do that in a text or email.
You can’t incorporate presence into an electronic message. You can’t effectively LEAD by electronic message. You must LEAD by your influence. And, influence has levels. These levels range from commitment (where followers willingly act for a higher purpose) down to compliance (where Soldiers merely fulfill requests and act in response to the leader’s positional power.)
Are your Soldiers committed or compliant? They ARE what you make them.
Resistance to Leadership comes in many forms ranging from lack of understanding of common goals, commitment to the organization, and the purpose of their mission. But, the single most relevant resistance to Leadership is trust in the Leader and the organization. The fix for this is for the Leader to build or restore relationships, determine shared goals, remove perceived threats or other actions, and clarify how the influencing action relates to their troopers personal values. This can’t be done by email, phone, or text. Leaders must TALK to Soldiers. Face to face. Leaders must KNOW their Soldiers, and you can’t know your Soldiers without talking to them!
Trust encompasses reliance upon others, not a “smart-phone.” Having confidence in Leaders abilities cannot be achieved by email. Building Trust over time through mutual respect, shared understanding, and common experiences does not happen by texting.
Get in front of your Soldiers. Tell them what you want. Listen to them, and act on their needs. Teach coach and counsel them on how to be great Soldiers. Genuinely care about them by taking the time to tell them the “why” and the desired “end-state.” They will not let you down!
LEAD TRAIN WIN!