Leaders Past and Present

The one advantage of retirement is that I got to choose my boss and if I treat me bad, it is my fault. I hope that you have done as well as I have in selecting my wife and that you are treated as well as I am.

One of my blog buddies wrote a blog about some of the leaders he had worked for and how it influenced him as he became the leader. I hope that I was influenced to be better in some ways and not worse in others. Mostly, if I had trouble with a boss, it was my problems and lack of understanding of him that made it tough. Let me cite and example. Col Fox was a Korean War veteran and nearing the end of his career as I joined the Field Grade Officer (Major on up) ranks. He held the position I aspired for and eventually held as I retired. I thought that as I came to the State headquarters in Topeka, I would bring about changes that would in many ways eliminate some of the paperwork that felt like "make work" out in the field.

As usual, I found myself in a staff officer position and everything I did was funneled through the Colonel. I thought I would just write up what I thought was good stuff and present it to the Colonel. I didn't take time to realize he was totally a visual learner and wanted time to read and understand what I was doing. At first, I would proceed into his office, make a verbal presentation and when he looked unhappy, I would give him my best rendition of more clouds and arrows. Generally these meetings ended with both of us feeling less than happy.

It wasn't until a bit later that I came to find out that it wasn't me or the material that caused COL Fox to look unhappy, it was the presentation style. After that Blinding Flash of the Obvious I changed the way I dealt with him. If I had a project to give to him, i would make a folder with three tabs in it. The first tab was what the assignment was and a copy of the paper we sent out the last time. Tab two was the regulation concerning the activity. Tab three was the new paper I planned to have published. I would send it in to his office and ask that he call me if he had questions. The approval rate on the initial work went up at least 50%. A lot of times I just got the paper back signed and approved.

So, if you are having trouble with your boss, try to find out how he does things and hope you can best fit your style into the way he does business. It might just be the style not the substance of your work.

Understanding how people work will also help you understand how to treat your employees when you move up. Encourage your Clouds and Arrows people to give you more written information and the Law and order people to make verbal presentations. I also found it well worth the time to at least once a week to get up and go see everyone at their desk. It was really easy to find a piece of work they had submitted for approval and find one or two small questions to talk about. Was it perfect? No but it was the way I did things. Good Luck.

COL (Ret)

1 comment:

  1. The old saying "with age, comes wisdom" is true in some cases! I guess that's why we develope more people skills as we become senior in our respective occupations.