Forty years is a long time to learn how to do this the right way. It has not been easy. It has often been very hard. I started this long career in the U.S. Navy. I was placed in charge of 80 youth sailors in boot camp. I was clueless about how to control, manage, advise these young, frightened men.
My father told me before I went to boot camp, “Stay in the back and keep your mouth shut.” I did and I was still selected. I always wondered why. I actually ask my commanding officer at the end of my time in boot camp. This is what he said, “I looked at each one of you and you were the only one who had the look in his eyes.” I did not know what he meant at that time but I do know today. It is often not something we can measure. It is a feeling, something intuitive, something different but you see it and you know it. Even in the early stages of management career I knew who was good and who was not. I knew the strength of character and who I could count on. I did not understand it but I did feel it. I was also at the beginning of my management career. I am now at the end of that career.
When you know it you know it to be the truth. When you see the strength in the group you make a change or take a risk and you move forward with a decision to select a person to be in charge or provide support or manage a project or seek the truth and move forward. The one thing you never do is manipulate another person based on your own selfish needs. This is not management. It is control over another person. If you start the group is finished.
If I have a critical flaw it is the fact that I cannot manipulate another person. In fact, if I see it, I have a tendency to flare up. These individuals are very slick, smart and are masterful. Most individuals may not see the manipulation. I have always taken a lot of pride in how I could see between the real truth of character and the false truths. I have always known that my ability to judge the character of another person was normally 95% accurate or in my case, always accurate.
There are times that I did not recognize it but that happened when my perceptions of the other person were clouded or jaded because of my own internal filters were not paying attention to what was real. This happens when we are under stress or are moving too fast. Maybe my heart got in the way of my mind. Caring about another person will often jade your perceptions. Maybe my long term relationships resulted in a false perception of who the person really is or maybe my judgments are not clear because I just could not see the truth.
Again, it does not happen very often but when it does happen, the error is glaring and I am driven to fix the issue or situation. I am forced through experience and a deep sense of responsibility to own it, move toward a corrective process and remove the individual from the organization. It is who I am. I am the one who makes the tough decisions. I am the person you know will take care of it, no matter what or who is involved.
After 40 years, I have not changed. I still have the same ownership and responsibility. I struggle through all of the challenges that a new manger might, but I have one thing in mind, the outcome of the department, group or organization. That is, after all, the only important part of what I do. It is my job to protect the organization. It is not my job to protect one single person. I am up to the challenge.
I always have been the one up for the challenge. It has gotten me in trouble. It has made me a hero. No matter the outcome I just cannot back down and take an easier rode. When you go into battle I am the one you want standing beside you who is willing to give his life for yours. In my three air plane crashes my crew members and passengers were always more important than me. I memorized the names of all the passengers and their seats so I would know who lived or died. I never thought about me dying.
As managers of others we must make sure we do not falter when it comes to supporting the whole of the group and not the needs of one person. Supporting the “one” will eventually force the group into a form of self-destruction that implodes upon itself. The needs of the whole becomes a form of survival for existence the feeds off of the needs of the one. I have watched it happen so often when power, manipulation and the needs of one is more important than the needs of the whole. It often happens in immature organizations when strong cultural shifts are being implemented.
Take a stand and support the needs of group. Do not give into the needs of one. Stand strong and take on the challenges and offer up yourself to stop the challenges. You may represent the very few but those in the group will know you are the person who stands tall and ensures success for the whole of the group. There is really no choice. It is your job. You must manage. You are the one who will make a difference. Stand UP… Make a difference.