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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Got a Tough Leadership situation? Take the Pontiac model to heart!

As a leader; do you think you have it tough?

Take a minute and consider those in the military who contend with as much as a 33% turnover in personnel every year – year in and year out. How would you like to train or operate in an environment that has that repetitious change? With the standard enlistment and normal personnel rotation, they survive with a turnover rate that would drive a civilian operation batty.

Under those conditions, what is it that makes their situation tolerable and yours not under the same set of circumstances or those of a lesser degree?

I call the answer to this situation: the Pontiac model – GTO.

That’s right, GTO; for those who are acronym challenged: that’s guidance, training and organization.

The military works from the standpoint of situational guidance.

How can this work might ask? Leadership, or management depending on your viewpoint, issues mission oriented orders that realistically stand as guidance. This guidance is then put into practice up and down the chain of command gaining more and more detail the further down the chain the orders travel.

There is absolutely no room for micro management here. The leaders relay guidance and then get out of the way and allow subordinates to operate. A certain level of authority is passed along with this guidance—it has to be. This authority insures ownership and allows the subordinates to make decisions on the spot and refer up the chain only that that needs to be referred.

They operate this way because they have trained to do so. From the basic training structure, right through the advanced individual training courses, post basic and then into the unit training environment; while doing their job, they are always training. Training, then more training, and when that’s finished; they train some more. Yes, and it’s all accomplished while doing their job. Again—there is absolutely no room for micro management here. They train and then get out of the way and allow subordinates to operate.

The next logical question is: how can they afford to train constantly? Well, the answer is in the way they are organized. Isn’t it great how Pontiac, even though there aren’t many left on the road, gave us an acronym that just perfectly fits this model?

Organization is where the capability to accomplish this state of constant training is derived from. They know and understand the organization; everybody up and down the chain understands the organization. Everybody knows their job and how doing, or not doing their job, fits in with the overall unit’s accomplishment of its mission.

The intangible here is the camaraderie that is built up by the cohesiveness these units operate under. This is extremely difficult to duplicate in the civilian environment—next to impossible one might think. Well, not necessarily so.

Consider the times and how close an organization becomes once they have been through a few reductions in force, or layoffs? There’s an internal bonding that takes place. It develops after they have breathed that sigh of relief and subsequently achieved a frame of mind that allows them to think about work and not about those that are no longer around. They have to go through this process; it’s natural. The quicker leadership gets them through the process, the better. They bond, they pull closer, they are more open to others that they might not have been open to before and the entire organization benefits from the experience.

This time is the perfect time to organize better for the coming future. Some organizations will not make it and that’s OK. Most that don’t make it will tend to be the weaker of those that existed prior to the business downturn. A certain culling always takes place during a downturn; a sorta thinning of the herd so to speak and comes a redistribution of assets and opportunities. It’s to be expected. The challenge is leadership!

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