Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On 'leadership' in the civilian world...

There have been circulating of late, opportunities for the position of "supervisor", within my place of work. This involves the chance of being saddled with a lot more work, for a little more pay. I have been approached on many instances by my own supervisors, as to my interest in such a position.

Having had the opportunity to act in an actual supervisory capacity, as well as a section head, in the military, I can see several reasons why this offer would not be one I would entertain. For one, leading civilians can best be compared to herding cats. This situation would exist regardless of the style of leadership employed (authoritative, participative or free reign). They have a tendency of taking any authoritative form of leadership, very poorly. For as much as many will talk a tough image, authoritative leadership (particularily that which involves any use of colourful and/or creative profanity) will have them bursting into tears. It's all very messy and emotional.

Most employment and labour standards these days have the employees wrapped in so many layers of protective gauze, that you actually have to invite them to do what they have been hired (and are being paid...) to do. Any attempt at mid-course guidance/correction of the 'immediate' variety (I.E.: giving them a direct command vice suggesting or pleading), will normally be met with weepy eyes, hurt feelings and the threat of a union reprimand or lawsuit. I would imagine that bellowing out the order to: "Get back to your fucking station, you horrible little man!!!", would likely prompt either seizures or spontaneous human combustion in most of them.

In the Ops world, orders are given and pre-planned responses are carried out immediately, accurately, unthinkingly. It is how one remains alive. Questioning a directive is not something that readily comes to mind in emergency or dangerous situations. To do so is to invite disaster and death. Yet many civilians would think nothing of doing so. They are as inquisitive as a five year old child might be. "Why?" is a question that all too readily springs to their lips. Everything must have a reason, a personal motivating factor for them to take on an assigned task and do what is requested of them.

I can still remember "the beginning of the end" of our own beloved military, when political correctness first began rearing it's hideous head. The specific incident involved a crusty but wonderfully effective drill sergeant, who got into trouble for orders he issued to a platoon of female recruits he was taking through their paces. He was teaching them how to come to attention, from the 'at ease' position.

The entire process of bringing your right foot to a position where the thigh forms a 90 degree angle with the ground, then driving it down forcefully, all takes place on the count of: "One...!" It requires the considerable use of your leg muscles, if it is to be performed well and in proper military fashion.

His young female charges were listless and dozy. Lacksadaisical in how they were executing the movement. They had been at it for almost an hour now.

Clearly frustrated with them being incapable of performing this simple, basic drill movement, he reared back and let loose at the top of his lungs. The following could be heard echoing through the drill shed:


Now...??? I don't think you can even say: "Crap!" anymore.

Yeah... a leader of men in the civilian sector...??? Um-mmmm... I'm thinking not.

"Anyone can hold the helm, when the sea is calm". - Publilius Syrus.

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