Sacrifice Self-Interest for Others

We just had another event that involved a speaker from an external organization.  It seemed a bit random, but there were some good tidbits that came out of it.  The best reiteration from this discussion was the notion that leaders sacrifice their own self-interest for the interest of others.  This is a theme in Sinek's Leaders Eat Last as well.

The speaker invited us to read an article by Maj Gen Michael Rothstein titled Great Leaders Follow First — Nine Rules for Dynamic Followership.  The rules from this article are:

1. Think Two Levels Up
2. Speak Truth to Power
3. Don't Bring the Boss a Problem—Bring Proposed Solutions
4. Internalize and Work the Boss's Priorities
5. Give Good Readbacks
6. Hold Yourself Accountable for Your Performance
7. Don't Pass the Buck
8. Demonstrate Professional Loyalty
9. Excel at Your Job

Now, this article features some—what I perceive as—redundancy.  There's nuanced differences between 6/7/9, but these are all a part of the same conversation.  The Air Force core value of "Excellence in All We Do" seems to encompass these, but I find that number 8 triggered the most thought for me.

Under "Demonstrate Professional Loyalty", the following line appears:

- Great followers give their immediate loyalty to their new boss, and they continue to demonstrate that loyalty day in and day out.

Now, if you're not familiar with the military environment, the boss/commander of an organization tends to change every two years.  For those that are adverse to radical changes, they have a hard time shifting between the shifting paradigms that occur when new bosses want to make their mark on an organization.  Immediate loyalty, of course, is valuable in this environment.  Otherwise, change would be slow—and change is slow.

The speaker observed that The Pentagon was built in a time of about 16 Months.  The bureaucratic safeguards and processes that we have built into the government puts newer, less substantial, construction projects taking much longer to complete.  16 months might be the time it takes to design it.  Another year to get a vendor.  A few more years to build it.  In a global environment with increasing potential for conflict, we need to look for ways to trim the processes we have in place. 

Construction projects are not dissimilar for IT Projects in government.  For example, if I, as an individual wanted to fire up a WordPress site, it'd take less than an hour to procure hosting and maybe two hours to install the environment if I was doing it myself... all for about $11 for 3 months.  If I needed to setup a WordPress site as a government official, such a process would likely take four to six months and cost hundreds not including the man-hours put into the effort.  

Do the controls for security that we have in place actually benefit us more than the flexibility we would have if they weren't there?

I can't confidently answer this one way or another.  Nuanced policy is needed, but nuanced policy is extremely difficult to write.  There are so many variables and so many stakeholders involved.  However, I can focus on what's in my control.  My job is to know what the rules are and how to service customers.  I am using S.O.S. prioritization for my work:

1. Service - addressing customer requests & outages
2. Operations - ensuring software is up to date; improving internal processes
3. Security - ensuring security controls and documentation is in place

Now, when #2/#3 look to risk #1, they may float up to the top, but Customer Service and enabling people is what we do.  Why do we do it?  So we can build great structures to keep Americans & Koreans safe.


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