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Leadership Hack - Loyalty

Protect your team in a way which places you at risk.

In my experience (both as a leader and team member), there is nothing which will create loyalty and support from your team like risking your own skin for them.

As a trainee fighter pilot in the Air Force, I was posted to a new squadron every one to two years. As my colleagues and I were welcomed to the new unit by our flight commander, it was typical for him to conclude with “and if you ever get in trouble, call me first and I will smooth it over. I don’t want to find out that you set fire to a piano on the parade ground from the base commander!”

As baby-fighter pilots, we had many lapses of judgement in the bar, and made an equivalent number of costly mistakes in the air. I observed three types of bosses. Which are you…?

Boss #1. ‘Names and shames’ the perpetrator of an error. Has NO skin in the game.

Boss #2. Acknowledges to the higher powers that the team was at fault and ‘I’ll deal with it”. Almost no skin in the game.

Boss #3. Takes full responsibility for the error, protects the entire team and puts himself/herself at risk by doing so. Skin in the game.

I can still remember my ‘Boss #3s’. These are the guys I would dig deep and sacrifice for.

In the heat of battle, whether the battle happens to be in a war zone, a board room or a restaurant, Boss #3 will find that his/her team are close behind, going above and beyond, and putting their own skin in the game.

Be boss #3.

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