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The Nearly Indefensible Boss and Stress Relief, pages 237-243

Part Two: Leadership Tactics, 3. Maneuvers, F. The Nearly Indefensible Leader, G. Stress Relief, (pages 236-243)


F. The Nearly Indefensible Leader

As a subordinate leader, you are setting an example. If you undermine the leader, it not only hurts them, it also hurts the morale of the troops. So, what should your actions be when you disagree with the leader's plans? “When a decision is made or a course of action comes down from the chain of command, you must execute it as if it were your own.” While you can disagree with your boss behind closed doors, once the decision is made you must execute it to the best of your ability. Even if the troops start to verbally question the leader, you must not join it. You must stop it. However, there may be times when the boss is indefensible due to their arrogance or consistent bad decisions. At this point, blindly supporting them will cause you to lose credibility. The key is to focus on the importance of the mission and not your boss. For example, “Complaining about the boss doesn’t get us anywhere, and it doesn’t make our jobs easier. What we can do is try to form a good relationship with him so we can influence him in the right direction.” There is a balance between blindly supporting your boss and showing some level of hesitation.

I had a few sergeants in the Army that I questioned early on in my career. I found it easy to belittle them behind their backs. As I was eventually put in charge of a repair department (I was T.O.W. missile repair technician, specializing in thermal night sights) I realized what a disservice I had done to them, myself, and the company. You get a very different perspective when you are the one in charge. A lot more variables come into play that you must negotiate and most times when decisions are made, someone is not happy. I found the key is to have meaningful conversations so that all can understand why certain decisions were made. While not everyone always agreed with the way I went about things, there was a lot less bickering.


G. Stress Relief

“Stress exits at some level in every job.” The most important element for the leader to do to identify subordinates feeling stress is something they should have already done, build a relationship. “Having good relationships up and down the chain of command is one of the most important leadership elements for any successful team.” Good relationships allow for quality communications. Quality communications allow the leader to gain a personalized view to better determine if the subordinate is stressed. “If you know them, then you know they are not acting like themselves.” The most efficient way of dealing with a person who is stressed is to remove them from the current situation. “Give them a break. Give them a rest. Take them out of the stress-inducing environment.” An important point is to not outwardly identify that you see them as being stressed. Simply give them a temporary mission that allows them to be removed from the stress. Upon returning, they will normally go back to their usual behavior. “Know them. Watch them. And when they need a break, give it to them.”

As a sales associate at Footlocker, my manager did an excellent job at monitoring the stress levels of the employees. When he would notice one of us getting stressed, usually due to demanding patrons, he would simply ask them to make a run for food and or drinks (the store was in a mall with a lot of food options). This unassuming approach worked extremely well for all of us. It temporarily removed the stressed employee, allowing them time to cool down, it brought back food and drinks, and the best part was that because the manager paid for it, it was free. Food always seems to taste better when it is free!

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