Without Guidance

By May 25, 2017Double Shot

Whether you are an avid reader or this is your first time visiting our blog, we aim to post across a variety of topics to either inform, make your day better, or motivate you. Sometimes we do it with humor, sometimes we do it through reflection and deep analysis, and we always seek to do it by calling it like it is. No PC bullshit; no whiny, skinny jean, man-bun, entitlement-driven jackassery. And, yes, with profanity to keep your asses awake.

 

So when I hear people from a variety of professions grouse about a lack of guidance from their leadership, “I haven’t heard shit,” or, “My boss doesn’t tell me jack,” my constant refrain is, [in the words of the Metallica] “So fucking what?”

 

To better understand my seemingly callous response, let’s take a minute to unpack the problem …

Starting with a simple proposition: people (no matter career field) usually require – and prefer – leaders to lead; otherwise stated, to be effective, most people require some level of leadership.

Now, that’s not a bad thing. We all know the power of teams – all of us is smarter than any one of us – and certainly, leaders, if worthy of the title, find meaningful and sometimes unique ways to harness the power of teams to great success.

And how do they do this? Well, the methods are infinite but I suspect the means could be confined to one key skill, communication.
Be it screaming (which most rarely find helpful), explaining, defining, listening, debating, or joking, leaders leverage communication to allow teams and individuals to understand their role, their value, the mission, and the parameters in which they as a group will define success. Bad, no shitty leaders like to micromanage and tell their team HOW to do things, but that’s a topic for a later day. These types would typically be found attempting to lead a colony of ants to a picnic and somehow failing them miserably.

So, without going deeper into Leadership literature, let’s assume that’s the backdrop against which most people would gauge their situation, and from which they might complain about a lack of guidance.

First, get out of your own head and gain some situational awareness – there may be a good reason leadership isn’t communicating.

 

What happens when the operational tempo is so fast that leadership can’t effectively communicate to the team? What happens when leadership can’t communicate or simply isn’t there – be it owing to technological failure, inclement weather, or, perhaps, they are answering to their bosses and too busy to wipe your ass? There are numerous reasons why leadership may not be able to communicate, so guess what, you aren’t the center of the universe.

So what happens if your leader is just a bad  and can’t, won’t, or doesn’t communicate? Won’t return calls, texts, emails, and misses your update meetings? Well, there is some chance you are an asshole, which I will leave you to reflect on while we discuss other possibilities.

Belay that!

We could sit here and pontificate on all the options you have – work your chain of command by going to your immediate supervisor, ask a project manager, even the more benevolent option of offering to help a teammate get their element of the project sorted (you should already have done this before bitching) – but this is the BRCC blog so fuck that, let’s talk about you and how you can own your situation.
Before you start busting on your organization’s leadership about guidance or communication failures, take a knee and ask yourself, ‘What am I doing to further the broader mission/project?’ If bitching, whining, or waiting are the only evident answers, choke yourself; action is your only answer.

Yes, leadership has value and guidance from above is often helpful, but the reality is that only you control your motivation and initiative. Stop waiting, start doing!

 

But do what, you might ask?

 

If you have read this far, you aren’t stupid – you know what we will term, Commander’s Intent; that is, the last clear guidance or communication you had about the overarching project, mission, etc, and what leadership will define as success. Do that!

Perhaps your last clear guidance was to develop a spreadsheet demonstrating market pricing for single-family dwellings in a particular city. You finished that and find yourself mindlessly scrolling around on Facebook waiting for your boss to approve or critique your handiwork. You’re WRONG!

 

You know a couple of things. First, you know your company is trying to determine if it wants to invest in undervalued residential housing in a particular city. Second, you know the spreadsheet contains data relevant to a period (perhaps the prior 12-18 months, to current).

So, do you bitch and whine that your boss hasn’t cleared your spreadsheet? No, because you control your own initiative, and related, leading you starts with you leading!
Instead, dig into the project. Perhaps you expand the range of your criteria and go back to the last real estate bubble, looking for trends in how property valuations ebbed and flowed around investment patterns. Maybe you look at housing patterns in that city and overlay it with commuter data and recent investment to determine what areas of the city might be trending in the future owing to new business development.

 

Whatever you do, do something! Now, this may not be relevant to your profession, job or daily taskings. If we relate what some would consider mudane, you can surmise and apply the same initiative to whatever it is that you do. You have the “commanders/leaders intent” stay in your left and right lateral limits (or don’t).

 

Huh? Let me break it down Barney-style: abstract out, assess Commander’s Intent, and look for things which can contribute to that success; what action can you take to augment you or your team’s ability to perform, to execute, or to understand?

See, great teams and great people don’t just act or accomplish when being told what to do – and leaders rarely marvel at how well you do something they told you to do. Instead, lead from your position, act on last (guidance), and show some initiative.
And remember how we noted above that part of good leadership communication is listening? What if they are listening to you – watching to see how you act without guidance? ‘My boss isn’t that smart!’ Well, if (s)he is waiting and you are waiting, you aren’t any smarter.

 

Final thought: you are the only leader you will have for your entire life – expect much!

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