A Story about Leadership Presence
I was a freshly minted second lieutenant out of my basic course and jump school and assigned to my first command as a airborne cavalry platoon leader. My unit had just returned from Vietnam and my platoon sergeant, Ron Sneed, was taking me through the motor pool to take a look at all the vehicles I was to sign for. Sergeant Sneed handed me an Army Memorandum book.
This is a small bound with green cloth cover and numerous empty lined pages. It’s small enough to fit into a pocket. I asked Sergeant Sneed what it was for? His reply, Sir, this is your book to annotate everything about every man in this platoon; their names, rank, next promotion opportunity, their wife’s name, children’s names and anything particular to that family. Sir, you put everything you can possibly know about every man in this platoon to refer to and commit to memory. Sir, your men won’t follow you until they know you care.” Sergeant Sneed later was the Command Sergeant Major of a Calvary Regiment in Desert Storm, and a leader of men. You can learn a lot about leadership from people like Sergeant Sneed.
Creighton Abrams, recognized as a great leader of combat troops, taught his NCO’s to keep a Memorandum book with the names and military information as well as personal information on each individual soldier they were responsible for.
Additionally, he expected every leader to keep the family information for each of the soldiers they were responsible for to include the health of each family member. His rationale was that a troop can never leave his personal life at home no matter how he tries. If he has a sick wife or child that will affect his contributions to the operation. If the leader is aware of the situation and makes efforts to help the soldier with it, the Army has a better soldier knowing someone is there for him and makes a greater contribution to the operation.
If you know your customer has family issues and can convey your understanding of his or her situation, even if you don’t do anything for them, they understand your concern and you understand their actions in the decisions they make. This has repeatedly proven to result in greater customer relations and smoother customer operations.
This also works well with both your senior as well as your subordinates. Think of others before you think of yourself. Help to make them as successful as you possibly can and you will reap the rewards of their support in your endeavors.