“Failure is one of the greatest experiences you can have. As leaders in any organization, you need to accept that all your decisions will have some kind of risk. There is a balance in finding the potential corporate risk and opportunity risk to garner success. Failure with acceptable risk should not be feared or punished and should be encouraged to promote growth.”
M.E. “Ozzy” Osborne MBA(FS) Class of 2019
I did not have the opportunity to attend the convocation in October 2019, however, I did get to watch it streamed (though not with the best resolution) in the early hours of the morning. As I watched people with whom I spent years within classes and intensives, I kept thinking; What was the most interesting memory of a class or intensive? Of all the course intensives attended and with several amazing memories, I think Business 5103 – Management Skills Development (Leadership) with Dr. James Barker kept coming to mind. During the intensive, there were several scenarios that were presented for discussion on how, as a supervisor, you would conduct yourself. It was then I realized that with over two decades in the Canadian Military, I had a somewhat “unique” leadership style (which I may have vocalized).
Attending the various classes in the MBA(FS) program, I was able to see the different styles from different professors. They ranged from academic to professional to cordial to sarcastic and a myriad in-between. I was also able to see the methods in which others in the class viewed leadership and, in many cases, how it was applied though our group work. I am fortunate in that the Canadian Military teaches leadership to all of its personnel prior to being permitted to lead at any level, which is defined as “the process of influencing others to accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation”. I have noticed some constants (with anecdotes) in the best supervisors and leaders I have worked with:
Consistency (Get up and make your bed): Seems a relatively simple idea starting first thing in the morning. Everyday, get up at about same time and make your bed. In order to lead, you must have a routine and methodology to apply to your day. Secondly, to start the day you need to accomplish something, even if it is small and achievable. Even with the worst day, you have still accomplished making your bed. A leader will have realistic achievable goals.
Lead by Example (If you are not up before the sun it is a wasted day): Always lead from the front. To do that, it takes a longer day and commitment to succeed. Always getting up before sunrise is not easy for people. I enjoy waking up at 3:00am and walking my dogs, getting to the gym by 4:00am for a few hours and then to the office at 6:00am or 6:30am to start the day (defiantly not a schedule for everyone). Many of my supervisors are in the office working when I arrive in the morning despite my personal morning routine. I asked one of my supervisors why they were in so early and the answer was “If you work this early, I work this early.” What was shocking was they did not need to be there at that hour and when my day ended, they would still be at their desk reviewing the day’s submissions, making corrections, etc. Always lead by example.
Small Success (do not fight the river): Most of us work in large banks, organizations and companies. That means we will not change the world or change how our organizations will do business. Trying to make major changes will be difficult, if not near impossible, to cut through “red tape.” So, concentrate on the small things to help. Whether that is changing a small procedure to make life easier for your subordinates or helping a client/customer with something. A leader’s ultimate goal should be to leave an organization better than when they arrive.
Time Management (1/3 to 2/3 rule): One of the most interesting theories the military uses is the one-third / two-thirds planning rule. This means that for any given planning or work-related project, a maximum of one-third of the total time is for you as the manager/reviewer/approver and the remainder of the time is for the team to work. The more time that can be provided to your team, the better. If there is a time crunch, as the manager, it should be yours to absorb. This way, the quality of the product is not compromised. A leader provides time for the team to do the work well.
Ethics and Values are not easy (Shave with your eyes open): This is the hardest thing for any leader to do. Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong. Can you make the decision when you are going to lose something with either decision? The best supervisors I have known worry about doing what is right and not what is easy. A leader can make hard decisions.
Adaptability (Plans do not survive first contact): We all pride ourselves in planning out a method to achieve team goals. The reality is that any plans you make rarely last. In essence. you only have a short time before you need to be able to assess, decide, and adapt to the new situations that will follow. When this occurs, it is important to remain calm, think, adjust, and carry-on. The ability to analyze and adjust for fluid situations is essential. Leaders can adapt.
Accept Appropriate Risk – Failure is not Always Bad (Do not be 10 Ply): Failure is one of the greatest experiences you can have. As leaders in any organization, you need to accept that all your decisions will have some kind of risk. There is a balance in finding the potential corporate risk and opportunity risk to garner success. Failure with acceptable risk should not be feared or punished and should be encouraged to promote growth. When you fail, do not collapse or give up. It is time to learn and improve. A leader accepts risk.
I recommend watching Admiral McRaven and Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s speeches on YouTube for some introspective thoughts on leadership and ethics.
M.E. “Ozzy” Osborne CD, MBA(FS) Class of 2019
Captain, Deputy Comptroller