Asleep at the Wheel

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Asleep at the Wheel

Leadership is a dynamic process and a learned trait.  All of us are born with a certain amount of talent in a variety of different areas.  What we do with that talent based on our skill we put into it (practice) is what eventually will define us.  You would rather be the person that has gone above and beyond with limited talent then the one with all the talent and little to show for it.  That all being said I think it’s absolutely critical that leaders at every level know what’s going on around them and take responsibility for their actions and those under their charge.  Look, there will always be things that happen that are out of your control; things you don’t directly manage or affect.  However, responsibility falls back to the “leader” and President Harry S. Truman said it best when he declared “The buck stops with me.”

No leader wants to be embarrassed, ridiculed or exposed in a scenario where they seem as if they had no idea, training, or experience into what happened.  Murphy’s Law comes into play at times and “stuff happens;” how you deal with that as a leader will define you.  President John F. Kennedy had his own issues when he took office in January 1961.  He immediately was thrust into the debacle known as the  “Bay of Pigs.”   This operation actually began in the Eisenhower administration and captained by the CIA.  The plan was to use counter-revolutionary insurgents (Cuban exiles) trained by the U.S. to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba.  As history tells us this was a complete disaster and many feel JFK was pressured into the invasion from his more experienced senior civilian and military advisors.   Afterwards JFK didn’t deflect the issue to a previous administration, or to advisors that were possibly misinforming him in the hopes of making him look bad.  Rather JFK went on the air and took public responsibility for the failed invasion and said “…we got a big kick in the leg and we deserved it. But maybe we’ll learn something from it.”  People are not dumb; they can accept the truth and most often will welcome it regardless of how hard it is. Key note: the highest point of JFK’s Presidential approval ratings came in wake of Bay of Pigs disaster.  Despite the embarrassing admission the White House made about the U.S. involvement in the botched invasion, JFK actually received a bounce in his approval ratings.  It’s also important to note JFK then fired three top CIA officials immediately after this failed invasion.

Now there are hundreds of other leadership examples out there and you can each do your own research and form your own opinions.  Taking responsibility for not only your actions but also the actions of the people and situations you are overall responsible for, shows that you are “manning the helm” and being answerable.  When you don’t take responsibility, or defect accountability, or make counter accusations, all you do is display the perception that you’re “asleep at the wheel.”  As a leader, you have to keep abreast on what’s happening around you.  Many times we surround ourselves with very smart and extremely competent people.  The advantage of this is you can give these folks a direction and distance and they can get the task accomplished with little guidance.  The disadvantage is the left and right limits of the task sometimes get wider, making the target objective larger, slowing the effort.  Then you also have what I like to call the “good idea fairy” that comes into effect; beware of this!  The good idea fairy only complicates the process by adding layers to the objective when you should be “staying the course.”  Simply, plan your fight (task) and then fight (execute) the plan!  If there are changes to be made then take time to make sure it’s the right change and don’t make change because you hit a speed-bump.  Key note: we would often say in the military “don’t scrap the plan at the first sign of gun-fire.  This is to be an expected part of what we do.”  The same goes for business.

The Take-Away:

If you’re a leader at any level, know what’s happening around you.  Manage, don’t micro-manage. Ask questions (a lot of questions), look for multiple solutions, and regardless if you made a particular decision or not, its your responsibility to be accountable for it.  You may get it wrong from time to time but the leadership value you will learn will assist in your expertise moving forward.

I never kept count of the times I was wrong, all that does is eat at your spirit and fuel a negative leadership style.  What I always do remember is standing there and being accountable for the men and women under my charge and my decisions and their actions.  Believe me, that’s what they will remember most!

I look forward to your comments and an always, Lead From the Front!  Hooah!

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Warriors learn from Warriors

Originally posted on EliteLeadershipTraining:

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Warriors learn from Warriors

We laid to rest this week one of the greatest Warriors of all time, her name was Patricia G. Spisso. She was not only a brilliant educator and champion for Women’s rights, she was also the greatest mother any family could ever ask for. Warriors learn from warriors, and we learned from the best!

As a modern day performance coach and leadership consultant I often speak about being a warrior, winner, leader and survivor. Four key attributes that define the best of the best and what I challenge everyone to be. These attributes all have sub-attributes, which complete the definitions. Though only four simple words they are very complex. For example, you can’t be a winner if you’re not a gracious winner or a sore loser. Winning is the action but a “winner” is what defines the attribute.

I often ask clients what their definition of…

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TV Interview: JB Spisso Discusses Women in Combat

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TV Interview: JB Spisso of Elite Leadership Training Talks About Notre Dame Football’s Change of Heart

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Failed Leadership

In the wake of the NHL cancelling more games, there seems to be zero negotiating between the League & NHLPA. There is only one thing that comes to my former Sergeant Major mind, and that’s simply “failed leadership”.

Now I’ve read over a hundred articles on this subject both for and against each side and bottom line, it’s dismal. You can make a case for either group and both have done that through their verbiage in the media and campaign ads to attempt to bring some validity to their cause.

Here’s the bottom line, this is destroying the game! Though each side can make a strong case, neither is keeping with the spirit of the game, which should be getting out there and showcasing it. The owners hold most of the cards as they take the most risk and want a bigger portion of the pie; the players want the contracts they’ve already signed honored, we understand this. We can debate for days, weeks, months and this is exactly what each side is doing. It’s now the end of October and we have yet to play a NHL game while the KHL plays on ESPN, how silly.

Lawyers vs. Leadership: let me be clear that this is NOT an attack on lawyers. I know several attorneys who are close friends and we’ve used lawyers both in our personal and professional lives as they are a necessity. Attorneys are there for one thing, the best interests of their clients. So now we have four attorneys (Bettman/Daly vs. Fehr/Fehr) in the spotlight slugging it out against each other & making the case for their clients (I’m sure there are several more behind the scenes.) We can say “this is great” because this is what we want to see out of our representation. However, it comes time when you need more than attorneys and smart people, you simply need LEADERSHIP!

History has shown that sound and timely leadership trumps everything else when it comes to decision making. Having an extensive military background and now as a professional performance and leadership coach, I fully understand the necessity of leadership. I’ve seen it first hand in combat, and lived it for the past 30 years of my entire career. Neither side is willing to give ground even in the wake of corporate sponsors pulling out and monies that will never be recouped. Though Gary Bettman continues to state “we have the best fans in the world,” we are continued to be marginalized because of this lockout. If and when the game does come back, please don’t embarrass us any more with the “Thank you fans” painted on the ice.

If you want to be the leader of the organization you must simply get a deal done. The commissioner holds the key and though works for the owners, he has the necessary authority to say “enough is enough, we’re playing hockey!”

HOOAH!

JB SPISSO
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC
jb.spisso@eliteleadershiptraining.com

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Random Acts of Kindness

It was early Spring, 1985 and I was a Private in the U.S. Army assigned to the elite 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington. We had a great platoon loaded with talented individuals and even a few that had cut their teeth on the recent Combat Parachute Assault into Grenada (Oct 1983) to rescue American College Students. This mission was known as Operation: “Urgent Fury.” Now today combat operations are plenty, however in the early 1980’s, there wasn’t a lot of combat action post-Vietnam Era. If you participated in Grenada with the Rangers, you were commonly known as a “Grenader Invader” and were viewed as “gods,” especially by Ranger Privates (AKA “tab-less bitches”).

The life as a Ranger is a difficult one, both physically and mentally. Every day is a test; everyday is a new challenge, everyday you have to show why you are one of our military’s finest fighting units. To be a Ranger you have to be as a minimum a three time volunteer. You have to volunteer for
the Army; volunteer for Airborne School; and finally volunteer for the Rangers which has a requirement process of passing RIP, or Ranger Indoctrination Program (this name has since changed to RASP or Ranger Assessment Selection Process. I still love the name RIP!). Just qualifying for the Rangers is only part of the process; once you complete RIP you have to earn your position in a Ranger platoon everyday and when trained enough, you will have the chance to attend Ranger School in hopes of earning the coveted Ranger Tab (which then removes you from the “tab-less bitch” listing!). Ranger School in itself is a daunting task and covers over 8 weeks of patrolling, raids, ambushes, reconnaissance, field craft, survival, graded patrols as well as food and sleep deprivation. It’s still to this day one of the most difficult leadership schools the military has to offer.

The life of a Ranger Private is a tough one. You want to prove everyday that with guidance and the proper training you can be a combat Read the rest of this entry »

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Angrifying

It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. If you’ve never been there its a great spot tucked away about 40 minutes east of Spokane, Washington, along the banks of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Through a hockey connection I met a great family who own a very successful minting company in Coeur d’Alene, and after about a year talking back and forth we were contracted to conduct leadership and team building for their company. This was actually our second time with the company in the past six months and this time they were taking on our premiere outdoor team building exercise known as Operation: “Victory Spike” on the terrain of Tubbs Hill.

The client set us up right as they always do, providing us first class accommodations at the famous Coeur d’Alene (CDA) Resort located on the lake. This resort is known to many the famous traveler and is even one of the hosts for a popular Triathlon every year. It even has a terrific golf course with a “floating green” that is accessed only by boat.

It was our recon (short for reconnaissance) day and our Elite Leadership Training LLC Cadre were hard at work prepping lanes and finalizing the scheme of maneuver for tomorrow’s event. The weather was terrific, the views excellent, it really couldn’t get much better, well except for a good cup of coffee. It must be a military thing but former Soldier’s can drink coffee just about anytime and in any weather. As the Lead Consultant for our company I planned all the outdoor missions and then tailored them as necessary to fit the terrain and fitness level of the client. It was time for the coffee run and one thing I learned from serving with the Brits in Afghanistan, is that everyone is on the hook to get coffee. This is one task where rank does not have its privileges with the Brits and I actually liked that! (Many a evenings the British Colonel would be getting tea for his mates after losing the ceremonial dice roll which they all participated in to see who was make the tea run). As the team was finishing up preparing their task lanes and we were waiting for the “Six” (term for the boss which in this case is the ELT CEO Lona Spisso) to complete her final walk through of the site, I tasked myself to get the boys coffee.

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