First of all thanks to "Admin" for setting this up. I'm excited to read others thoughts and posts as well.
I've read Extreme Ownership and fully bought into the concept. As I'm applying it to daily life and mostly at work I've come to realize a bit of a delema. How does a "front line troop" exercise extreme ownership when his leaders and upper management do not? For example leadership providing inadequate/ unclear training (which is my responsibility to point out), but then deflecting criticism of training due to lack of resources or faults by others. Obviously the responsibilty is on the leader, but when s/he doesn't subscribe to Extreme Ownership, what is a subordinate to do?
Carlos, thanks for joining this site. I hope as more people like you find this site, it will grow into a community where we can bounce ideas off one another so we all become better. Just like you, I struggled with the same problem. I work in a somewhat "paramilitary" organization, where a "frontline troop" finds it hard to lead up the chain of command. The one thing that has worked well for me, is constant self-reflection. This can be hard, but it's important to do for growth. What I have found as equally important, is to look at what went well with your interactions. In my work, we have things called after action reviews. This gives everyone a chance to take a breath and look at the actions that were taken from an unemotional view. Lastly, try approaching challenges from the side. Often times I made the mistake of approaching people head on. This hard charging approach often made people feel like I was coming after them or challenging them. Try to look at life through their eyes and maybe your vision will clarify. Hopefully my experiences will help you. As more people join the board, I'm sure they will contribute with helpful advice. If you don't mind me asking, what type of work do you do? Thanks and good luck. -Admin
Great point regarding approaching people head on, I'll ponder some different approaches. By the way I've also asked this question to Jocko via Twitter so I'm looking forward to his response (hopefully) on a podcast.
I work in Internet Security, specifically in finding vulnerabilities to web applications. Basically I'm a "good guy" hacker.
To answer your question: "what is a subordinate to do?"
Take extreme ownership of that project. Create basic training. The best training is often in-the-field (or simulated field). What if you take the actual work you do and compile parts of that into a training guide? What do you think leadership would say if you said, Our training is inadequate, and the cost is my colleagues in the front line make mistakes which cost $XYZ (or projects take longer than they should which cost us $XYZ). I compiled my key learnings from recent projects, and I'd like to share it with my colleagues in the front line. I think it will help us reduce mistakes and speed up project work. Do I have your permission?
If you re-read your post, can you imagine that someone could have the perception that you are blaming leadership? I am leadership... and that's what I perceived when I first read your post. I receive similar feedback... here is a partial snippet I received yesterday (granted, I request the feedback):
> There is a lack of employee onboarding training and knowledge sharing. If we want to innovate solutions for our clients and stand out in the industry, domain knowledge sharing is important for all of us who are building, designing, maintaining, marketing and selling the product. How can Sales answer questions if they don't know the basics of product and the needs of our prospects? Domain knowledge sharing can be anything from teaching invoice 101, to provide insights from usability testings, sharing a sales call, etc. Always relying on Adam for domain knowledge is not sustainable. Even for self-motivated learners, this can cost time and money. We are team that should be encouraged to educate and support each other.
I partially agree with this feedback, but disagree more than agree. Also, there is something about the tone that irritates me... and says, hey leadership, you're stupid.
"How can Sales answer questions if they don't know the basics of product and the needs of our prospects?" -- that assumes that they don't know the basics of product and the needs of our prospects (this person isn't in Sales). "We are team that should be encouraged to educate and support each other." Does that mean it's not encouraged to support each other now?
Be intentional with your language when you talk with leadership. They may feel like they are providing limited but adequate training. Imagine if the person you say it's inadequate to is the person that toiled for weeks designing it. There are multiple ways to convey that they are not, and some will almost always ensure a battle, and some can keep the situation diffused. Remember the outcome you're trying to achieve is the same outcome they want to achieve too -- the betterment of the company.
Thanks for your input adam! I will say that since I posted this question I've learned a lot from Jocko's podcast. So much so that this post is almost unnecessary as I've reshaped my thinking in the past couple months. Your input falls much more in line with how I'd approach this scenario today.
The quick answer is to pursue knowledge. Become a master of your craft. General recommendations would be master the deliverable, get in the professional societies, and get a mentor. The deliverable is what the client gets for their money. Understanding that helps you do your work more efficiently. The has got to be a White hat society, Programming, IT general the meet monthly for lunch or diner. Or at least a journal, blog or forum. Getting a mentor is probably the best. Obviously it is a tricky thing to find someone who can help you and be impartial. Ideally you want a person who had the job you want to have.
I struggle with the same issue in a Fortune 500 company, and don't have all the answers. Though, "Take Ownership" certainly is a good mantra.
A few years ago I realized that no matter what the work environment's challenges were (e.g. poor leadership), I needed to put myself into the work anyway, in order to look at myself in the mirror every day with pride & satisfaction. Instead of coming to work to just "punch the clock."
I'm adapting Jocko/Leif's lessons to this environment by trying to hold myself to very high standards while expecting that my leaders may not do the same for themselves. Constantly asking myself, "given that they won't take ownership, what do I need to make my team be successful anyway?"
In your case example: Review and rework the training material. Become the "go to" guy for trainings and training material. Train your team - even if you do not have a team assigned to you, train those around you.
As it was said in the podcast. If you have weak leaders, GREAT! You get to lead, to shape, to take over.