[September 19, 2018] The U.S. military sometimes embodies, not unlike other complex organizations what I will call, a “culture of slow change.” If there is, however, one thing that is quick, predictable, and helpful, it is the fact that our troops themselves are highly responsive.
Want a mission accomplished? They are on it quick and decisively. What an answer to a question? You get the answer accurately and speedily. Need help? They will be there. The U.S. military is known for being responsive in times of need or when a mission has been assigned.
Leadership also means being responsive to others and that is what you can expect from those who are successful. While responsiveness is the centerpiece of good customer service, the military culture of slow change can be a drag on the troops’ ability to take quick, effective action. My experience, however, is that our military leaders are responsive to others and more so than we would expect.
I often hear complaints about the Millennial generation who are part of the “everyone gets a trophy” cohort. I hear they are not responsive to others; nor are they externally mission motivated. This complaint is common and I even hear the complaint coming from more senior military members about young troops entering military service.
There are barriers to being responsive. For example … organizational complexity, differing customer needs, lack of knowledge of the customer, lack of knowledge of the demands on the environment, and fear of change. These will slow down responsiveness in any organization and drags on the creativity of each person working inside.
However, there are several keys to being responsive. First, one must understand what the requirements that the leader is after. Second, a thorough understanding of the decision-making process. Third, building experience and self-awareness. And, fourth, thinking out-of-the-box, enthusiasm, openness to trying new things, and respect will play a crucial role.
Here are a few ways to be responsive:
- Respond quickly to email or other requests.
- Follow up and never miss a deadline.
- Be open to new and creative ideas.
- Be prepared and plan ahead for future events.
- Anticipate obstacles and prepare for them.
If you want to be responsive, it’s not easy but neither is it that hard. It really means being mentally prepared.