Author Dancing Idiot
As a man rises through the Leadership ranks of a Group, he will find an ever increasing amounts of this time being taken by things that have little to do with Group’s Missional-essential Tasks. As his responsibilities grow, his opportunities to stay Competent shrink. To ensure that he is able to Skillfully perform his METs, he needs to build Routines that enable him to continually Practice the Skills that made him a Leader in the first place.
Nowhere is this more true than in the military. The higher the rank, the more time spent behind a desk instead of out in the field shooting, moving and communicating. In that environment it would be easy to slide into in-Competence.
When I was a young infantry lieutenant the colonel who commanded my battalion was a powerful Leader. One day, I had my platoon assembling and disassembling the 50 Caliber Machine Gun, which was a MET for us. The colonel was observing this training when one of my sergeants asked him if he wanted to “give it a shot”. I thought it was kind of a wiseass move, given that the man may not have touched a 50 Cal in the twenty years since he had been a young lieutenant. Given the amount of responsibility he had as a battalion commander, he had bigger fish to fry. I hoped he would just laugh it off.
But I was wrong. Without a word, the colonel dropped down next to the sergeant, disassembled the gun and put it back together like he had done it just yesterday. When he was done, he stood back up, told me to “carry on” and walked calmly away. His Competence amazed my men and gave us all great confidence in his Leadership.
Maybe a year later (with that incident long forgotten), I found myself as the battalion duty officer, which meant I had to spend the night at battalion headquarters. Hearing a noise from the colonel’s office, I walked down the hallway to investigate and found him sitting on his floor with the components of a 50 Cal spread around him. Since he spent most of his day pushing paper I couldn’t understand why he was messing around with a machine gun in his office at midnight, but it not being my place to question the commander, I wished him a good night and went back to my desk.
Which is when it hit me. That’s how the colonel was able to “amaze” my platoon the year before. There was nothing amazing about it at all. The man worked at it. He Practiced to remain Competent. The reason he did it at night was that his day was taken up with his other duties, the ones that kept him behind a desk.
Something else occurred to me too, but I couldn’t test my theory until I saw my old sergeant the next day. “Hey,” I asked him, “do you remember that time you asked the colonel if he wanted a turn on the 50 Cal and he blew us all away?”
“Yes sir,” the sergeant answered. “What about it?”
“At the time I thought you might have been messing with him a little. But it’s the opposite isn’t it? You did it because you knew he could do it just like he did it. You did that to give our platoon confidence in the chain of command.”
That sergeant just smiled at me and walked away. That’s how Shared Leadership is supposed to work.
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
1 Timothy 3:10
And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.
1 Timothy 3:5
For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
Leaders Leading Leaders