Eleven principles for the management of local administrators

2022-05-01 0 By

People often ask me what is my favorite leadership book.Among the many books I read more, I found that one book stood out above the others.ExtremeOwnership: How US Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Former U.S. Navy Seal officers Jocko Willink and Leif Babin is one of the best books I’ve read on leadership.It introduces 11 principles of absolute responsibility, how they work on the battlefield, and how they apply to leadership.The principle of absolute responsibility also applies to local government.The authors note that these principles can be applied to “any group of companies, teams, or organizations trying to achieve goals and accomplish missions.”Here, local government leaders can learn and apply these principles to lead successfully.Absolute responsibility According to this principle, “all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader.”This means that ultimately everything that happens in the organization is the responsibility of the leader.Every team leader is to blame when the team underperforms.Every level of leadership in an organization must be held accountable for the actions of its subordinates.In local government, the ultimate responsibility lies with the city manager or mayor.Government leaders can improve organizations only by providing development for their teams.When the team is underperforming, leaders must address performance issues or optimize team members.Example: A street department worker built a piece of equipment.It’s not the fault of the equipment operators, it’s the fault of the street department leaders for not properly training staff or retaining staff who are not fit for the job.Then we look at the head of the street department, who does not ensure training or regular performance evaluations, and whether there is a mechanism for weeding out underperforming employees.Ultimately, city managers are at fault for not ensuring that department heads hold their supervisors properly accountable.There are no bad teams, only bad leaders According to this principle, the author describes how bad leaders can negatively affect a team.When there is a bad leader, no one can hold the team accountable.Teams that lack accountability tend to develop a negative culture.A good leader creates an effective culture in any team.The book argues that leaders accept mediocrity or drive performance.A bad leader makes negative behavior a culture and leads to poor performance.Example: The fire Department had a community fire team that was consistently unable to meet response times.The fire chief decided to make a change and transferred the community leader to another community.A new captain came in, and the team met their response time goals almost overnight.The only difference?The new captain asked his team to follow all departmental policies and be prepared to respond.These policies enable staff to set their response time targets.The former captain did not carry out these policies.It’s not the teams that fail, it’s their leaders who let them down by not holding them accountable.Believe that a leader’s primary function is to inspire others to want to do a job.To do that, leaders “must believe in the mission.”If leaders don’t understand or know why something is being done, they need to find an answer.These answers can be found by evaluating the situation using critical thinking or by asking questions.Leaders may need to ask questions higher up the chain of command to understand the “why” of the task.If leaders reflect enough or ask enough questions, they will discover the true impact of their mission.These findings will enable leaders to find faith in their mission.Example: A human resources (HR) executive doesn’t understand why they need to be centralized in the same location as other departments.This caused her inconvenience when she tried to communicate with her employees and check on their working status.She was always complaining about it to her staff and morale was low.When the HR supervisor asks the HR director for specific reasons.Co-located with other departments, she was told, could reduce HR violations in the organization by 60 percent, increase the use of city-provided benefits, and reduce the total cost to the HUMAN resources department.Now that the HR director recognizes the benefits and believes in the mission, she is a better leader and morale has improved.As mentioned in the book, most conflicts in organizational teams are caused by egos.Leaders must be able to overcome their ego, look inside themselves, and examine their strengths and weaknesses.An inner look will allow leaders to see where they are failing their team.Example: The turnover rate of the police department is at an all-time high.The chief constable decided to commission a third party inquiry to get to the root of the turnover problem.Through investigation, the director found that the former director was more interested in getting certified than the administration.This selfishness casts a shadow over the director’s ability to lead the department effectively.An effective leader must put his ego aside and the team before himself.Cover and move this is a widely used principle in the military.Use cover and movement when a soldier points his gun at an enemy and a teammate moves position.In this operation, local government is generally not a matter of life and death, but of success or failure.Another word for screen and move is teamwork.Each team member, team, and department must work with the entire organization to achieve goals.A unit that only thinks for itself may mean a temporary victory, but it won’t complete the overall mission.Example: The capital budgeting process is a good example of this concept.During the budget process, all department heads meet with the controller and the city commissioner.The purpose of this meeting is to select capital budget projects that will be funded in the next fiscal year.Each department has a wish list of capital projects they wish to fund during the next budget period.The city’s leadership has adopted a cover and diversion strategy.Instead of working on an island, every department head knows they won’t get everything they want.Each of them must listen to other leaders to present their needs.Then, department heads look at the big picture and drop some of their projects to make the overall budget work.This give-and-take strategy helps the city succeed, even when certain sectors suffer setbacks.Simplify When plans and directions are too complex, people often fail to understand them.It is critical for leaders to make sure their team understands their direction.Each direction must be broken down into a language the team understands.Complex directions are not maintained well when problems arise.Communication needs to ensure that the team understands the task and how to achieve it.Example: Accountants in the city’s administrative office were instructed to review any uncanceled checks purchased by the Parks and Recreation Department in the past.The accountant checked their electronic system, found no outstanding checks and reported them to the controller.But when the audit was conducted, it was found that the accountant had omitted several outstanding cheques.When asked about this, the accountant said they checked the electronic system for checks but could not find them.The cfo told the accountant that he should look at the paper register, the financial record box in storage and the laser film system.The task was not done correctly because the CFO lacked simple instructions to her team.Priorities and Execution “Even the most capable leaders can get overwhelmed if they try to tackle multiple problems or tasks at once.”High performance organizations are prepared for planned contingencies.Leaders must develop a plan to assess and address the highest priority issues.One organizational unit cannot effectively address many critical issues at once.A major task for every leader is to develop an execution plan that will address all issues at the appropriate time.Example: The city council has approved a new budget to fund the street department to repair 43 streets in the city.The public works director, as a high performance leader, realized it was impossible to repair all the streets at once.She worked on a plan to prioritize the most dilapidated streets with limited resources.Her priority street repair program will address the most pressing problems.All streets will be repaired in a methodical manner, rather than multiple competing projects at once.Hierarchical command Leaders cannot and should not micromanage every aspect of the organization.Organization leaders must provide a “why” for what they want to do.Willink and Babin call this “commander intent” when front-line workers understand what leaders need from them.To communicate commanders’ intentions, leaders must trust their workers and give them “left and right boundaries.”The city council has given priority to allowing more people to enjoy the city parks.The director of the parks department has received permission to beautify all the parks in the city.The director told the park director that the park needed more flowers, landscaping and water features.He gave the director a budget, several hundred bags of mulch and five workers to work on the project.The park director showed the director some online photos of the park that could be used as a template for the project.The commander’s intention is to present his ideas to the supervisor and then restrict him in the form of personnel and supplies to complete the project.Plan Every task needs a plan.Every local government organization should have a plan that they want to accomplish.The commander’s intentions are adopted and developed as a way to accomplish the mission.Anyone offering part of a plan should understand any good plan.Leaders should provide general direction for the plan and allow their supervisors to make fine-tuning of the plan.Make sure everyone knows their role in the plan is crucial.If someone is not clear about the plan, then things can fall apart and possibly fail the mission.For each task, the planning process will be different.Example: The city administrator decides that the city will begin providing express postal service. He needs to plan for hiring staff, purchase equipment, hire department heads, complete state compliance applications, and plan the transition.The intention of the city chief was for the city to have its own EMS agency.Decisive leaders in uncertainty often make decisions without complete information.Leaders must act decisively in uncertain times.In situations where information is incomplete, leaders use previous experience and wisdom to make decisions.Example: The IT director receives an email from an employee saying that they think their computer is infected with a virus.While he was reading the email, another employee called to ask about pop-up ads on their computers.The IT director believes the city’s computers are rapidly being affected by the virus.He immediately decided to shut down the virtual desktop server.A lack of decisiveness by IT directors could shut down the city’s entire network and cripple operations.He made an uninformed decision based on the little information he had.This is when leaders must make these clear decisions.Discipline equals Freedom On the surface, discipline and freedom seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.The reason for this feeling is that the two principles are dichotomous, and leaders usually operate within the realm of dichotomy.Some of the dichotomies, according to Willink and Babin, are that leaders must be: confident, but not arrogant.A leader and a follower.Quiet, but not silent.Calm, but not a robot.Example: In a meeting with the fleet manager, the assistant City manager asked why there was no progress in finding suppliers to bid on the upcoming budget.She is usually a very hands-off leader, allowing department heads to make their own plans.However, a good leader sometimes needs to “micromanage” when subordinates are underperforming.Then, as their performance improves, the leader will return to providing overall guidance rather than managing subordinates so closely.This is one of many examples of how leaders must formulate dichotomies during their leadership.