From Bob’s Desk: Be a good admiral of our Elm fleet

By Bob Bacon

I recently read a biography about Marc Mitscher. Admiral Mitscher believed that harsh discipline ruined more people than it made. The stories about how his leadership of US Navy pilots in the second World War resonated with me. It talks about the need to get people to believe in themselves, trust their skill and the need for an organization to focus on what matters. Here are some of the thoughts I had…

Understand that when a pilot is sent on a mission, they are the captain of their plane and their crew.

Our people who perform Elm’s work need to know we trust them to do the right thing. That we have provided them with the right training, materials and tools to be successful. That we have their backs if something goes wrong and most of all that we appreciate them and the effort they put in.

Expect people to follow the rules but be flexible where you can. But make sure everyone understands where rigid discipline is mandatory.

If your van is dirty, your car broke down, or a job takes a little longer than planned there shouldn’t be major consequences. But failure to follow safety rules, or electrical codes and standards is unacceptable. My rule on the service side is to be responsible and make the right decision for yourself. Sometimes you will make a choice that is good for servicing our client and sometimes you will need to make the choice that is good for yourself.

Don’t quibble… When two alternatives are close enough chose one. The second-best choice done on time is invariably better than dilly dallying around looking for a better choice.

I am a victim of this one. Often, we overthink things as technical people. A mediocre solution well executed is way better than a fantastic solution that never gets done. Getting the facts and moving ahead provides learning and reveals opportunities that can only come from doing it.

All the ships and thousands of support people are there to enable the folks in the plane to complete their mission.

Those of us in support roles need to remember the crews that hit the road early in the morning are who our clients see and perform what our clients value. Enabling them as much as we can by being flexible shows they are understood and appreciated in what they do.

The ability to listen to an ensign (a junior officer) is possessed by very few good admirals and no bad ones.

We all need to listen and ask questions. A brief discussion can go a long way in helping us understand what people think, need or want. Field folks can help office folks by listening and understanding how your behavior affects them, and office folks can provide the same courtesy. Be a good admiral of our Elm fleet!