Are you ready?

“Equip you with everything good”; sounds like a tall order to fill if you are in a leadership position. It can also be perceived as an insult if you are the employee. I’m suggesting that you view “equipping” as a means of employee development. As leaders, we have the obligation to develop our people and equip them for everything good. We can be so busy taking care of the “business” that we often let our responsibility for employee development fall away. We should make it a priority and work with each member of our staff to help them achieve more than they thought was possible. Set a regular meeting time and help the employee establish reasonable goals for their career or even for their personal lives. Goal setting, at first, will be hard for employees to do. You might have to suggest some direction or offer options. Give them short-term goals that are easily achieved so they know what success feels like. Once they see that the developmental goals are for them, they will start to bring their own needs to the meeting. Your success of “equipping” can be measured by increased productivity or job satisfaction by your staff or even if they advance into other positions of increased responsibility. Succession planning and coaching are two models/programs that can help you equip them for everything good.

Hebrews 13:20, 21 – “May the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will…”

You should work in your vocation to the glory of God, doing His will. You have been blessed with the ability and the responsibility to lead others; God has equipped you with everything good for doing His will. How do you feel about the other areas of your life, are you equipped? Most of us took advantage of the opportunities that were put in front of us at some point in our lives. We have to remember that God works in mysterious ways and sometimes we simply don’t always recognize them. When was the last time you attended a bible study or read a book that contained a message from God? These are tools that God will use to equip you for doing His will. Take advantage of the equipping that He is doing and seize upon the opportunities to do His will and witness to others. You will never know when the words you choose or the actions that you take will make the difference in someone else’s life.

Diligence

Diligent is defined as “Characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks”. How can a leader govern diligently? They can start by paying attention. Pay attention to the details of your work; don’t let things fall through the cracks. People are looking up to you for guidance, information, instruction, and decisions to complete assignments and to provide direction. You must be clear about what is needed or provide the details necessary for others to complete their tasks. If you are not able to provide good guidance, people will jump to incorrect conclusions about projects, assignments or work products. Diligence also requires accountability; you must ensure your people are meeting their obligations – timelines and deliverables within fiscal constraints. There are a number of ways to handle accountability; at one end is micro-management and at the other end is leaving people alone without any follow up on your part. Obviously, it is best to work from somewhere in the middle and to adjust toward either end as the team or team members require. We all work better with some guidance; your responsibility as the as the leader is to provide it, diligently.

 Romans 12:6, 8 – “If a man’s gift is … leadership, let him govern diligently…”

As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, if we are to lead, we must do it diligently. We must pay attention to the small things; the devil is in the details. It is easy to obey the straight forward commandments like not stealing or killing but what about the “details” of the others like not being jealous of what others have or putting other activities before worship with God, especially during football season. Who is keeping you accountable for what is happening in your life? Confess your sin, give it to the Lord, repent and turn toward God. The good news is that Jesus took it all upon himself on the cross for us. Be diligent in your daily study and time with the Lord, you’ll be rewarded in many ways.

Are you listening?

During these times of uncertainty and frequent change, we need to get as many perspectives on an issue that we can. Employees, our boots in the field, have a very keen perspective of what’s happening that we, as leaders may not. The old expression “you can’t see the forest through the trees” has a lot of validity the further up the ladder you go. As James reminds us, “be quick to listen”; you might be surprised by what you hear. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.

The deeper down you dig, the less polish you’ll find on the things you hear or statements that are made. Listen to what is being said, not how it is being said. Search for the facts, they may not be stated in a way that you’re used to hearing them. Be slow to speak, let the speaker get everything out before you speak. There are times we simply justify why we are doing something or why we can’t change. Resist the urge to become angry in the face of criticism, remember there can be more than one right answer. If you want honest feedback and assessment of a situation from your employees, keep your emotions in check. The employees are giving you a gift, accept it with grace and they’ll do it again. If you don’t accept the gift well, you’ll never get a second chance.

James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to heed these words as well. Listen to the words contained in the bible; be slow to speak about why that isn’t realistic or how it’s impossible to follow the example of our savior Jesus Christ. How often do you actually hear the Word, is it only in worship? The Word is a guide for us to learn and apply but it’s hard to do when you only hear it once a week. As you listen to the Word, let the meaning sink in. Look for what is being said beyond the words. Be slow to become angry or frustrated when you read the bible as you compare your life to what you are reading. Don’t feel guilty about how you lead your life or think that acting in a Christ-like manner just won’t work; try it, you might be surprised.

If you hang around long enough

The members of our team have spent more time together in these past three weeks than many of us would care to admit. After five exercises together, everyone is feeling pretty relaxed around each other. In the beginning, the chat was all work and little laughter. We were all mission focused; doing our part for improving the nation’s homeland defense forces. The Commanding General that year made a great closing speech about how important our work was and that the nation appreciated our efforts. It was a great feeling to say the least.

As the exercises continued year after year, relationships developed and grew. Everyone started to feel comfortable around each other; understanding each others relationship to one another. This year, we had a well oiled machine that ran seamlessly and enjoyed each others company. Collectively, our role has been to provide the training audience with realistic scenarios and role players to replicate the circumstances that they would encounter in the execution of their missions.  Last night, after a particularly challenging day of last minute changes, one team member said “This doesn’t have to make sense, we just have to be able to say it with a straight face.” It described what has been going on so well these past three weeks.

I have previously talked about acronyms and sayings but left one off. Yesterday, it became apparent that we reached a critical point in the training – loss of inertia. We had been using  this next phrase to describe an event or two but it finally became the description of the current event; it was a SLICC – Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone. Our local definition was “we are doing all of this to train ourselves.” Simply, we were enjoying our own work. If you look up SLICC in the urban dictionary, you’ll find this definition: “An organization or entity whose sole purpose is promoting its own existence and splendor.” I immediately contacted my daughter, the talented graphic designer that she is, to create a photo for us. This is what she came up:

This design was incorporated into our mid-day briefing and was sent to a number of people in our Emergency Operations Center for future use. We all had a few laughs and pushed through the rest of the day. NIce job Erin! Everyone says thanks.

You know that old saying…

In addition to using a language of acronyms, I usually get the honor to learn a few new sayings too. A few years ago it was “are you smell’n what I’m step’n in?” to mean – do you understand? There are always a few nuggets that carry over to non-military use. This year we’ve all been using a phrase from one of my favorite commercials. Here is the picture:

“Let me show you my shocked face!” We got it added into a team briefing and not the one for the Command General.

Two days ago I heard ” They are pushing back on him like a wet dog”. Let that sink in for a minute.

I had to ask my southern co-worker what that meant. He told me that no one wants a wet, smelly dog hanging around them so you push them back (or away) from you. Only in the south. Here are a couple of others:                                                                                     Are you tracking? = Do you follow me?                                                                               We need to de-conflict this = To clarify or resolve an issue. I prefer “unscrew” something that was screwed up.                                                                                                            I’m just say’n = Just an opinion or observation                                                       Scrubbing = cleaning up a document for errors

 

 

Fact, Fiction or both?

As we crest the hill for Vibrant Response 13, it is time to shed a little more light on this whole exercise. Command and Control(C2) elements (C2CRE and DCRF) are the primary training audience for this event. Each “element” has subordinate units assigned to address the needs of the civilian authority requesting assistance. The DoD is subordinate to the local authority, which in many cases will be the State. When state resources are reduced/depleted, they request assistance from the federal government. We usually see this with FEMA assisting during disasters.

National Guard troops are governed under Title 32 of the United States Code which allows them to function under the direction of the Governor to preform basic “maintain order” missions of which disasters are recognized. Federal military forces are governed by Title 10 and are under the direction of the President. Title 32 forces can be federalized into Title 10 forces by order of the President, which is how NG troops are sent to foreign wars. The C2 elements were activated following the events of 9/11 and Katrina. The key guiding principle is that they support the civilian authority. In fact, federal forces are prohibited from carrying weapons on US soil.

The C2 elements bring their assigned resources in aviation, operations, medical and logistics to assist. The exercise is designed by the 5th Army’s training arm – ARNORTH. They are set up in two areas of Indiana to replicate the events I’ve been describing. The Muscatatuck Urban Training Center(MUTC) is located outside of Seymour IN and at Camp Atterbury outside of Edinburg IN. They have venues that include crashed a helicopter and airplane, damaged buildings, subways, rubble piles for victims, ground transportation areas, landing zones and a vacant city that was once the state hospital complex. They use hundreds of people portraying “victims” who go through “make-up” to appear as injured. There is also a news crew that produces twice daily broadcasts using live footage they shoot throughout the day. It’s a real production.

We are running about 15 missions a day now at the two venues, which is significantly less than last week. In addition to overseeing the missions, we also provide current SA/SU (situational awareness/situational understanding) to the group role playing the State agencies and to the ExCon (Exercise Control) group. We are able to provide them with current mission status with our field commanders reports to us in the Area Command.

We have a few more days of events before it ends on Monday. Not a lot will change between now and then which, may make this my last post on the Vibrant Response Exercise. Send me comments if there’s something you want to know about.

Here we go again

The second phase of Vibrant Response kicked off on Sunday with series of small explosions and two nuclear devices detonating but not at their full strength. The Governor had ordered everyone in the effected area to remain in place until further notice. Today, he ordered the evacuation of more than one million people and has requested federal support. The US Army has deployed two Task Forces of resources to assist. This version of the exercise is for the C2CRE – Command/Control of CBRN Response Element. Yes, is an acronym within an acronym: CBRN is Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear.

There will be fewer troops moving on this event and fewer live missions for this portion. The missions on Sunday and Monday were completed by a single resource who rescued 60 live people. The number of missions and troops has no bearing on my work schedule, long days that repeat over and over. The movie “Groundhog Day” is exactly what its like.

In the meantime, I was sent these in an e-mail and pulled out a few of the best enjoy – IRONY:

 

Opportunities Abound

Nothing motivates a group of employees like a shower of praise for good work. There is an old saying that “one ‘oh no!’ will wipe out a series of ‘atta boys’”. This does not have a place in the progressive leaders being. Everyone fails or makes significant errors at some point and leaders need to recognize these as opportunities for development or encouragement. There is a story that many have not heard that comes from IBM. A working group was given a 5 million dollar budget to create a new software program. The group worked tirelessly, overcoming obstacles along the way and stayed within budget. The senior management of the company was brought together for the presentation on their final results and the program failed to meet any of the expected results. Following the meeting, the CEO was asked approached by a senior leader and asked “that was a complete disaster, when should we get rid of the team leader?” The CEO replied “why would we get rid of any of them? We just invested 5 million dollars in their education.” As that message spread it told people that it was okay to fail or make mistakes which caused morale and creativity to pick up. Indirectly, they sent the message that they praise good, hard work.

Ezekiel 34:26 – “I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season, there will be showers of blessing.”

God has also blessed us with showers from above. He created everything that we can see and those things that we can not. How blessed are we to see a sunrise or sunset?  The majestic colors that they create and the shades of light that are cast are unmatched. The showers of blessing that rain down on us each second of every day can not be counted. Human beings are incredible creations that fight off sickness, repair injuries and respond to the environment around us. We are however condemned to death because of sin. No mater how many “atta boys” we have, we will still die because of sin. The ultimate blessing we have is the gift given to us through Christ; the gift of eternal life. God blesses us here on earth but the real blessing is that we have Christ in our lives today and will have eternal life because of it. All of our “oh no’s!” are wiped out by His one act of accepting the punishment for our sins. God invested His only son in our education, He won’t let us fail.

Alphabet Soup

Tomorrow, the Exercise Director will call EndEx or End of Exercise for this portion of the mission, known as VR 13 – DCRF 1 – Vibrant Response 13 for Defense Consequence Response Force 1. Basically, the training and evaluation of the JTF-CS (see previous posts). The daily missions continued with water purification, mass casualty decontamination, chemical detection and identification, search and rescue, search and extraction from rubble piles and collapsed buildings, transportation of supplies via ground and air and the creation of a civilian relief center. In total over 250 missions will have been completed in about 7 days. A lot was learned by the training audience has occurred which is what we came here to do. Sometime tomorrow, we will start to shift to VR 13 – C2CRE A&B or Vibrant Response 13 for Command and Control for the CBRN Response Elements A and B (yes, an acronym within an acronym). The mission will continue with a new training audience and a new command staff.

I thought a little insight into military speak would be fun – alphabet soup as I call it. Here it is as it sounds with the acronyms attached: ” We need a R-FF (RFF) sent through Jiff-flick(JFLCC) to NorthCom for the crest(CREST) to report to the fob (FOB) in the Joe ah (JOA). They will be establishing a dee see r see(DCRC) as requested in the may toe(MATO) and for an e-med(EMEDS) unit. They however, must wait for the frag-go(FRAGO) to be cut.

In english, this reads like: We need a request for forces(RFF) through the joint forces land component command(JFLCC) to Northern Command for the contingency real estate support team(CREST) to report to the forward operating base(FOB) in the joint operations area(JOA). They will be establishing a displaced civilians relief center(DCRC) as requested in the military assignment task order(MATO) and for an expeditionary medical support unit(EMEDS). They however must wait for the fragmented order(FRAGO) to be cut.

One of our new guys has been compiling a list of these and so far has encountered over 150 of the ones that didn’t make sense to him. The scary thing is that I knew most of them when he asked me. I hope that after 21 days of this two things don’t happen 1) I start talking like this 2) My writing is effected because everything I write now is a lot of alphabet soup.

TTFN

Tata for now…

Too good not to share…

A fellow writer by the name of Michael Bradley maintains a blog as well. His stuff is really good and posts some interesting things to think about. His post today, is just that – really good. This will be the first of two posts by me today, which I know can sometimes be annoying but this was, Too good not to share.

http://mbtimetraveler.com/2012/08/02/dalai-lama-quote-the-story-of-my-life/