During the Benghazi terrorist attack on our Diplomatic Compound and Annex there were two leaders, if you will, on the ground. One was the TL (team lead). The other was Bob, the CIA operator. Try to forget Hillary and all the other leaders back in DC for a moment and focus on learning from TL & Bob. First off, TL did not fight with his team. Throughout the entire 13 hours he wasn’t with him. He was always underground in the safety of the bunker, literally. When you, friend, are leading a team of six remember this example. Don’t lead from the comfort, safety, and detached reality of your office. Get out in it. Your team doesn’t care how much easier it is for you to coordinate from afar. They want to see you “in it” with them.
What about CIA Bob? What can we learn from his leadership. Well for starters, when Bob first heard our Diplomatic compound was under siege he ordered our only team on the ground to “stand down.” He waited. He told our professionals that the local militia would handle it. Are you kidding me. Our ambassador and his team of seven are being attacked by 40-60 highly armed terrorists and we’re sending in the equivalent of Paul Blart and a handful of other mall cops. The team of six waited for twenty minutes. The mall cops are nowhere to be found. Finally, the team of six goes without permission because they are men on a mission.
Once the team of six saves those still alive at the Diplomatic compound and make it back to the Annex, the terrorists bring the fight to our Alamo if you will. Our warriors had no way to defend those inside our Annex except by fighting from the rooftops, highly exposed. TL & Bob stayed inside. One of the team of six left the rooftop during a lull in the fighting to grab extra mags of ammo in one of the buildings. Here’s what he saw when he unexpectedly ran by his leader.
“On his way out, Tanto came across base chief Bob sitting on the floor in a main hallway, his back against the wall, his head in his hands. Tanto thought Bob looked as though he’d given up. Even if Bob was talking on the phone, Tanto thought, his body language sent a message of defeat. Tanto shook his head in disdain but kept quiet. A withering monologue spooled in his mind: As a leader you sure as hell do not show that. Don’t show that to the Fricking people that you’re in charge of. Maybe you’re sitting there talking on the phone, but it doesn’t look like it. Find a way to look positive and productive. Find a way that everybody’s morale stays up. He suppressed a desire to punch the base chief in the face.”
TL & Bob were leaders on the front. You may be as well. Your job, if you’re a front line leader of anything, is to be “in it” with your team. You cannot know the best way forward, or help get the new property opened properly from anywhere besides there. TL & Bob, you see are a lot like many front line, middle managers, and the like that I see every week in the world of work – they are overly fixated on those above them and under-focused on the team they lead. Leaders focus on their team, first. Leaders are in it with those they lead. Remember, Jesus’ command to His disciples when they were in over their heads and wanted to run away from those they were called to serve. Jesus words were some ccd magic. “Go, be with.”
Yes, leader. Go be with your team. Serve them. Good…