I’m in a particularly ornery mood this month! Maybe it’s the slow start of the Orioles in the new baseball season. Maybe I’m tired of telling some of the trainers at my local gym that they’re not failures and to not totally buy-in on all the hype they’re hearing from various former special ops podcasters out there: messages proclaiming that if you can’t run through a brick wall, do one thousand one arm pull-ups in an hour or run up and down Mt. Everest in only a Speedo, your life is unfulfilled.
Whatever “it” was, it proved to be the impetus for this month’s article.
Over the past few months, Bill and I have contacted several respected leaders across the business/military/political/athletic spectrum for interviews as we co-write our upcoming book. Some folks have been extremely cooperative, responding to our requests in a timely manner, and freely sharing their thoughts on leadership vices.
A select few have replied back, politely declining our requests for an interview.
However, about half have failed to even reply back to our requests with a simple “No can do,” even after repeated requests on our part (and yes, the email addresses have been correct).
Nothing irks me more than a “leader” who doesn’t reply back to your email. Yes, I know people are busy, but a simple “Yes” or “No” acknowledges that the leader has, at the very minimum, opened your email. At least you know they had the common courtesy to open your email and reply back.
Coach’s Tip(s) For This Month:
- Answer your emails, especially when you direct a subordinate to get you some piece of vital information as soon as possible. Nobody is that busy! A simple “Got it, thanks! Let me get back with you!” works really well, and tells people that you recognize and appreciate their efforts to get you timely information. Failing to reply back is totally unprofessional on a leader’s part.
- NEVER, EVER publicly criticize or express doubt in your people’s abilities to do their job! In today’s social media frenzy, this happens way too much, and it is easily the most unprofessional leadership trait you can demonstrate, since it fosters a lack of confidence in your workers if they see their leaders not united! If your people are under-performing, pull them aside out of the public’s view or ask them to come to your office, close the door and talk to them.
- Accept both the good and bad of being a leader. Everybody likes shaking hands, handing out bonuses and awards, recognizing Employee of the Month/Year performers, and telling everyone how great they (and you) are doing. But when things go south, some leaders like to run off and push off the bad “stuff” to their lower minions so that they don’t come off looking like the bad guy. I saw (and experienced) a lot of this during my military career, especially when it came time for annual performance report reviews. As the boss, it’s your duty to personally meet your subordinates to review their performance, tell them what they did right (and what they did wrong), and what your expectations of them for the future are, for your top performers as well as those who may be underperforming. It comes with the job: don’t pawn this responsibility as the boss off to someone else!
CAPT John “Coach” Havlik, USN (Ret), retired from the Navy in 2014 after 31 years of distinguished service in the Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) community. He has served on SEAL teams on both coasts, including the famed SEAL Team SIX. Coach completed graduate studies at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, receiving an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies. He graduated from West Virginia University with a B.S. in Business Administration and is a 2017 inductee into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.
Coach Havlik is a Special Advisor to Giant Leap Consulting and regularly speaks about leading high performance teams under arduous and stressful conditions.