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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Respect is the Keystone of Success

I'm part of a small corporation in a big alliance. We're relative newcomers to this group of old friends. This has presented a few issues: for me, for us and for them. Lately it seems the issues bucket has been overflowing. Some of it has been outright drama, but nothing serious. Though it hasn't been serious, it has been thought provoking - and troubling.

See, I've had some reservations myself while adjusting to the new order of things. I was a lone wolf carebear for years before I joined HBHI. When I joined HBHI, it was only three other people and we were isolated in a Class 3 wormhole system. That was easier than high-sec to tell truth. I've never had to deal with large numbers of people in this game.

Those days are long behind me. Now I have dozens of people at any given time to deal with, many of whom I don't know from Adam. Some I like. Some I'd rather not say. But I try to be polite. And therein lies the rub - and the cure. I must remind myself to ALWAYS be polite, no matter how hacked off I am.

Politeness is the correct and respectful response to any personnel, or personal, issue. When someone in your organization is rude to you, don't antagonize the situation by being rude back at them. That only makes a bad situation worse. And questions, no matter how silly seeming, should always be treated as serious questions requiring a polite answer. Doing otherwise is not constructive in the least.

This is especially true in military organizations. You may not like the commander's adjutant, but you damn well treat him with respect and give him the careful consideration you'd expect to receive yourself. Officers are expected to be gentlemen, always. To act differently is an affront to the uniform they wear. I know. I wore one.

And officers are also expected to treat their subordinates with the same respect. As General John M. Schofield once said,
"The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an army. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey, while the opposite manner and tone of voice cannot fail to excite strong resentment and a desire to disobey. The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander. He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself."
I have written about this before. This short paragraph has more wisdom packed into it about how to run an army than any similar length statement I have ever read. It is a statement to make even the legendary Sun Tzu proud. The essence of what General Schofield was on about is respect. Respect is the keystone of military discipline, and though this statement is addressed specifically to those in command, it applies to every soldier.

You can look at the commander-soldier relationship as an archway - a sallyport in military terms. The base of one side of that sallyport is military discipline. That is the discipline of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The other base is also discipline, but is the self discipline that translates directly into professionalism. The two manifestations of discipline balance each other; supporting the sallyport. Self-discipline prevents military discipline from being necessary, and military discipline reasserts self-discipline should it fail. The sallyport anchored by these two types of discipline leads to operational success, and respect is the keystone that keeps that sallyport from collapsing.

What are we in this big alliance if not soldiers? Our alliance CEO sends out a call to arms and it is because of self-discipline that we respond. That's what professional soldiers do. If we fail to respond, our alliance CEO has any number of options for disciplining our misconduct - from a public dress down to booting us from the alliance. We are a military organization by almost any definition.

Therefore Schofield's Definition of Discipline applies. If a leader does not treat his subordinates with respect, they will resent it. If he then attempts to apply military discipline, it will not work. At best the subordinate leaves, because this is a voluntary army. At worst there is outright mutiny. Neither outcome is beneficial to the organization.

So leaders, when you deal with the rank and file, be respectful. They are there because they choose to be there. Treat them with the respect they deserve for responding to the call. Subordinates, never forget the leaders have a far harder job leading than you have following. Treat them with the respect they deserve for accepting such responsibility.

If you do this, you will be successful. If you do not, you will eventually failscade. And commanders, the onus is on you to prevent that from happening. That is the responsibility you accept when you become the commander. Good leaders never forget how they act towards others is a direct reflection of their own character. That is what General Schofield means by, "spirit in the breast of the commander." Your character must be respectful beyond reproach. If you cannot live up to that expectation, you should step aside - or risk everything.

Fly Careful

(NOTE: This is a general discussion about leadership and nothing in this article directly relates to any specific person except myself. This is in no way meant as a recrimination of those I choose to follow, though current events may have served as a catalyst for these thoughts.)

4 comments:

  1. Very good post and I agree 100% :-)

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  2. I can easily recognize the voice of command, because I can use it. And it is not a harsh voice. Forceful, but not harsh. It's a tone that essentially conveys the message "I recognize your competence at this task, and have thus entrusted you with it." Make your men feel proud of their skills and they'll try their best to rise to your expectations.

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  3. Very good read, thank you for re-affirming that perspective for me.

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Be civil, be responsible and most of all be kind. I will not tolerate poor form. There will be no James Hooks here. We are all better than that.