….another excerpt from my upcoming book that I am particularly proud of:
A word should be said here about the “faux-LeMay” syndrome which has occurred within the ICBM community and elsewhere. General Curtis LeMay was a genius and a “tough but fair” commander whose rants are legendary. He left a trail of fired subordinates in his wake. Many leaders within the ICBM community copied the “tough” part of the LeMay leadership approach to the dismay of their subordinates. In general, most of these top-flight sustainers were able to adapt to any leader’s approach as long as it included the “fair” part and everyone seemed on-board with the mission. But tough does not mean “praise in private and criticize in public”. Ranting and raving in public meetings, or other behaviors that send the message that the subordinate is a mindless minion should not happen. The person picked on will live up to (or down to) expectations. Sustainment of complex weapon systems requires everyone to be in the game 100%.
Nowadays, the faux-LeMay syndrome has been almost completely replaced with a cooperative leadership style that can still be “tough but fair”. It leans heavily on motivation, cooperation, and mutual respect. Leaders are told they should adopt the “servant leadership” model which focuses on helping the individuals in the organization with training, tools, and coaching.
A few “people” rules were taught to Minuteman sustainers:
- Despite all the complex rocket science and convoluted government regulations, simple communication is the hardest skill to master. When talking, always allow the team member their say remembering to listen respectfully and asking probing questions. They might turn out to be wrong, but you will always learn something. This helps the mission.
- Never speak ill behind someone’s back. It is morally wrong, but it also carries its own punishment. Even if not caught, they will sense it. Karma will be satisfied and then the mission will suffer.
- There are many secrets that cannot be shared among contractors and government people. Don’t create any more than is absolutely necessary. For the sake of the mission, share as much information as you can.
- The further you are separated from another person, the more they look either evil, stupid, or both. This pertains to especially to physical distance. Make the effort to share the mission and understand their approach to it.
- Deal with issues in private. Give credit where credit is due. Sincere praise and thanks, especially across different groups, boosts cooperation and supports the mission.