I was chatting on Facebook today with a friend of mine who is a 1st Sergent in an Infantry company in the Army. I know him because he was one of the Team Leaders in my squad when I did a tour in Honduras. We chatted about about a wide range of issues, and one of the issues I think is worth noting; what makes our military different from others? A few thing: first NCO’s, Non Commissioned Officers, make the military run. Without them, our military would fold like a lawn chair. They train and lead our military. If you look at say Afghanistan they have no NCO’s what so ever; which is one of the big, on top of many, reasons the Afghan Army will fail. Another thing is, soldiers get paid. Leaders do not keep the pay of their men. We see this in Iraq where the Officers are keeping their soldiers pay for themselves. This also happens in Afghanistan. Morale goes to shit when you don’t pay your people. Here is another, and big, example of what is the difference between our military and others, leaders put their men ahead of themselves, or at least they should. An example is when it is time for chow, especially when you are in the field training, the enlisted guys eat first then the NCO’s and Officers. You take care of your men before you take care of yourself. Believe it or not that goes a long way for keeping good morale. To this day, when I make food for people, I eat last and I will wait for as long as it takes no matter how hunger I am.
What can you learn this? Big leadership lessons is what we get If you take care of your people, put your people ahead of yourself, they will follow you to hell and back. Also, pay your people well. It shows them you value their work and effort, and they’ll work harder for you. Believe it not. Hire managers that not only have this philosophy but are competent at what they do. There is nothing worse than an incompetent leader, and it will kill morale quicker than anything. And one last thing, make your people feel like they are apart of something bigger. If your people have a cause to work for, they will for that cause.