Doing Routine Things Routinely – Leaders Must Still Be Managers

“Great organizations do routine things routinely,” is an old saying (at least within the military) that I love and has resonated with me since I heard it earlier in my career. However, with time, I’ve found that while many love the idea of the quote (it sounds impactful and important), I don’t think most fully understand what it actually means.

Moreover, I recently finished Ryan Hawk’s new book, Welcome to Management, where, in it, he quotes his dad who asserts that, “You are now a leader. You must become a ‘numbers guy’ [management] and continue to inspire. You need to lead, manage, and coach. To be excellent, you have to do all three.”

I’m sure most of us can look to a time where we served within an organization that seemed to be merely reacting day-to-day, only tackling the short, immediate issues each day and never working to deliberately shape a distant future. We would walk away from work each day feeling like we strove just to survive, stay afloat, and avoid failure – but not having accomplished anything truly important long-term.

Looking back at Ryan Hawk’s quote, the concepts of leading and coaching are the ‘sexy’ ones that we all want to do and become better at – we read, study, and practice to improve our leadership and coaching abilities. But, unfortunately, the art and science of management don’t get such popular attention because, well, it’s an unsexy topic; it’s not inspiring, doesn’t contribute to some grand legacy, or directly positively impact lives. But managing well is important because, if we don’t, our organization and people do not reach the personal and collective capacity to do the other efforts well. Effective management enables effective leadership, leader development, and coaching by creating capacity. With that added capacity, we can then pour available attention and energy into other, and arguably more important, efforts like developing leaders, building a strong culture, improving performance, and so on. Continue reading → Doing Routine Things Routinely – Leaders Must Still Be Managers

Avoiding Burnout: 9 Things to Build “Leader Resilience”

Outside of three weeks of paternity leave with my family, I have not taken any vacation or leave time since before the COVID pandemic began in March. And though paternity leave was an amazing time for my family and I, it certainly wasn’t a restful time. Bottom line is…I’m tired. Yes, I’m passionate about and love what I do, but it’s been a long year with little to no respite. I believe many are in a similar boat as me – we are at or near professional burnout.

It takes a lot to bring engaged leadership, optimism and energy, and deliberate development to our people and organizations. Burnt-out leaders can’t do that effectively. And while it is important to take necessary time for vacation and rest as leaders, we may not always be able to do that on our own timelines. As much as possible, we need to be resilient leaders able to keep showing up every day and bring the purpose, direction, and motivation that our people are entitled to.

So, we need to talk about ways to avoid burning-out and being resilient leaders able to sustain our personal and collective organizational responsibilities. It’s easy to talk about the idea of being resilient leaders, but hard to enact it day in and day out.

To help contribute this is important conversation of leadership, resiliency, and burnout – I offer nine practical things that help me show up every day and to maintain a full “leadership cup”…because we can’t pour into others from an empty cup. I expect that by sprinkling these small habits or actions over our schedule each week and month, we are able to remain being the leaders we desire to be and that our people deserve for the long haul. Continue reading → Avoiding Burnout: 9 Things to Build “Leader Resilience”

The 2020 Leader Christmas Gift Guide

If you’re looking for a great gift to place under the tree or stick in a stocking for a passionate leader or military professional – 3×5 Leadership is here to help! Below are our favorite items of 2020 – a year marked with many changes in lifestyle and working habits – and the things on our own gift lists. We hope these can help you show the working professional in your life how much you care and make their life a little easier.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We hope you and your family are safe and well. Continue reading → The 2020 Leader Christmas Gift Guide

2019 Holiday Shopping Guide for Leaders

Xmas Post Pic

While I’m no Oprah with an internationally famous “Favorite Things” list or Ellen with the 12 days of Giveaways madness, I do recognize the challenges of holiday gift giving — and professional and military leaders are no exception. To help inspire some thinking on gifts for those challenging professionals on your list, below are some of my favorite items from 2019 and ones I’m excited about in 2020.

Most of these items don’t fit the typical “military tactical leader” list of field gear or gadgets. Instead, they more reflect my current operational environment in a “broadening assignment” with less field time and more professional business workplace environment. Yet, I believe many can benefit from these items no matter their field of work or environment. Continue reading → 2019 Holiday Shopping Guide for Leaders

A Junior Officer’s Perspective on Surviving as an Aide-de-Camp: 6 Rules for Success

Aide-de-Camp Rules_3x5 Leadership

By CPT Desmond Clay (LG), CPT Paul Guzman (AR), and CPT Kyle Hensley (LG)

Serving as an aide-de-camp to a General Officer is a humbling and unique experience. This is one of the relatively rare jobs where a junior officer has an opportunity to gain insight on how the “Big Army” runs. Although it has been a few years since we served as aide-de-camps (AdC), there are a few enduring lessons we would like to share. Rarely is the transition period long enough to capture or discuss every possible contingency. Although there is a formal course for an enlisted aide, there is not a course for an AdC. Luckily, there is a General Officer Aide Handbook to help you navigate through this small community with some really helpful tips (1). We think there are six rules for success. Continue reading → A Junior Officer’s Perspective on Surviving as an Aide-de-Camp: 6 Rules for Success

Self-Development Begets Leader Development

Leader Development Handbook Cover Image_3x5 Leadership

This is part 3 of the 3×5 Leader Development Handbook. I encourage you to start with the introduction here if you have not yet.

One of the most critical lessons I learned as a junior officer and the first piece of advice I offer to young officers is: the Army won’t teach you everything you need to know to be successful in your next job. You need to demonstrate some initiative and do everything you can to learn key aspects of that next job on your own before you get there.

To be successful as a leader and as a leader developer, there must be a deliberate and routine effort toward self-development.

Self-Development Before Leader Development

Self-development is the second step in our leader development approach, pictured below. Before you can lead others, you must lead yourself well. More importantly, you can’t develop others if you’re not developing yourself. Consistently growing your own knowledge, skills, and abilities must occur before you can begin to do the same for the leaders around you. It’s about setting the example as a life-long learner for others and inspiring them to ultimately take responsibility for their own growth. While role-modeling does not necessarily equate to leader development (you can’t develop leaders only through your personal example), it is a critical first step for every leader developer. Continue reading → Self-Development Begets Leader Development

The 3 Key Elements to a Young Leader’s Organization

3 Key Elements to a Young Leader's Organization_3x5 Leadership

 “Administrative discipline is the index of combat discipline. Any commander who is unwilling or unable to enforce administrative discipline, will be incapable of enforcing combat discipline. An experienced officer can tell, by a very cursory administrative inspection of any unit, the caliber of its commanding officer.” –GEN George Patton, referenced in Commons Sense Training: A Working Philosophy for Leaders, by LTG (Ret.) Arthur S. Collins

On the spectrum of what is urgent and important as a leader, I firmly believe that leader development is one of the most important. But we can only effectively tackle leader development if we are organized to deal with the urgent and other necessary stuff like administrative issues. A leader must be personally organized, and must ensure his/her organization is as well, in order to maximize impact on those important things like leader development.

I write about this now because it is extremely relevant to my current job and I am learning this necessity the hard way. As a Tactical Officer (TAC) of a 120-Cadet company at the United States Military Academy (USMA), my primary responsibilities are Cadet leader development and being the integrator of the four pillars of their development (academic, military, physical, and character). However, I can only begin to think about getting after these priorities if I have comprehensive and effective organizational systems. I am the legal commander of the Cadet company, but I don’t have the headquarters staff of a “normal” company commander, so my days can quickly become overwhelmed by administrative demands. I must have strict personal and company systems in place so we can get to that “graduate level” of leader development that we have the potential to with the Cadets. Continue reading → The 3 Key Elements to a Young Leader’s Organization

Recommended Apps to Support Your Leader Self-Development and Growth

Leader Learning Apps_3x5 Leadership

There are thousands of online lists offering recommended productivity or “life-hack” apps to help improve your time management, collaboration, and organization. Without question, many of these recommendations are immensely valuable. However, I’ve recently come to wonder what apps people use to support their growth and development, especially as leaders. Unfortunately, there are not as many lists targeted to this topic.

Thus, as a follow up to my previous leader growth tools blog post, I want to offer my recommendations of apps that I leverage to aid in my daily pursuits to learn and grow as a leader in the various roles in my life. Many of these are tailored to my preferred methods of learning and may not necessarily work for you. However, I believe this list can at least get you thinking of a system (app or otherwise) to fill that particular void in your learning efforts. Continue reading → Recommended Apps to Support Your Leader Self-Development and Growth

What Tools Are You Using for Your Leader Growth?

Basic CMYK

What is the primary tool you use to learn and grow as a leader?

How do you record key experiential lessons or ideas in the moment?

Finally, how do you maintain them for long-term retention and use?

I argue that every leader should define how they are learning and what tool(s) they use toward that effort.

In his blog, From the Green Notebook, Joe Byerly clearly defines his learning tool as the famous Army green notebook. Here, on 3×5 Leadership, I identify mine as the common 3×5 index card. I believe there is an important message conveyed on the value of defined learning tools when leader development blogs such as these are named after the author’s tool of choice.

After defining what their learning tool of choice is, I often see leaders struggle to make the next necessary step: to do something with the product. I don’t believe it’s terribly effective to keep a bookshelf of filled green notebooks that are likely untouched afterwards, or to keep a box full of hundreds of filled-out index cards somewhere on a shelf or closet. Further, like almost every Army leader, I too use a green notebook. However, it often becomes filled with daily urgent “to do” lists in addition to insightful leader lessons that I should remember years down the road. How do you separate those so the important lessons are not lost in the noise of the notebook daily tasks? To truly learn from the lessons you record, you need to make them easily accessible. I argue that you need to create a personal learning resource to centralize your valuable lessons. Continue reading → What Tools Are You Using for Your Leader Growth?

[168 Series] “Remember How Much Nothing We Used to Do?”

3x5 Leadership 168 Series The Military Leader

This is Part X, the conclusion, of the “168-Hour” series addressing how leaders spend their available 168 hours per week to grow and develop. You can begin this series with Part I, here.

By Andrew Steadman, author of The Military Leader

Writing about time can make a person a bit of an existentialist. The act of tallying and cataloging (not to mention publishing) life’s activities into discreet portions inspires a notion that there is freedom and control over those activities: “I choose to get seven hours of sleep every night and make it so.” “I leave work at 5:30 everyday.” “I get up at 4am to read. And I never miss a morning because I’m hungover from the St. Patrick’s Day party…” This averaging process grants more credit than most of us deserve.

Generally, I am not as disciplined as I want to be, nor as focused, nor as productive. I have plenty of projects and ideas out there, many in Evernote and Moleskine, just waiting to be brought forth. And I always seem to be fighting for time to accomplish them. Perhaps, though, the enemy is not a lack of time, but a lack of focus. Even when I do allot the requisite time to accomplish the next important thing, the unceasing rush of shiny objects sabotages my intent. Continue reading → [168 Series] “Remember How Much Nothing We Used to Do?”