Make ’em Thirsty

In his book 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, John Maxwell writes:

“Some sports teams seem to embrace an “everyone-for-himself” mind-set. Others weave the attitude of subordination and teamwork into the fabric of everything they do. For example, football teams such as Notre Dame and Penn State don’t put the names of the players on their jerseys. Lou Holtz, former coach of the Fighting Irish, once explained why. He said, “At Notre Dame, we believed the interlocking ND was all the identification you needed. Whenever anyone complained, I told them they were lucky we allowed numbers on the uniforms.  Given my druthers, I would have nothing more than initials indicating what positions the wearer played. If your priority is the team rather than yourself, what else do you need?”

Winning teams have players who put the good of the team ahead of themselves. They want to play in the area of strength, but they’re willing to do what it takes to take care of the team They are willing to sacrifice their role for the greater goal.”

In our company, we are doing this more and more every day.  Each individual brings a phenomenal depth of experience to our team.  The goal is to keep our leaders and Soldiers doing what it takes today and tomorrow for the good of Charlie Company, Lobo, and the Air Cav team.

To take it one step further, it is my goal to have my leaders encourage their Soldiers to do the same.  

When my amazing wife, Danielle and I were talking about leadership the other day, she told me something she learned while working at Crosspoint Community Church in Nashville, Tennessee. “You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make them drink…you can make them thirsty though. I offered a slightly different military perspective yesterday in our leader huddle: “In the military, we can lead a horse to the water…we can even make it drink….the question and our charge as leaders is to make ’em thirsty…” In my first three months in command, I’ve found providing the “Why” is an essential component of making ’em thirsty. Why we do what we do is often more important than giving orders and demanding blind followers (in most cases). There is a time and place for the latter in our business. In most cases, with this generation, the more you provide the why, the better.

In most cases, the leaders in my company have never experienced the garrison environment and the unique differences or challenges when compared to preparation for a combat deployment. Supporting my higher headquarters’ intent/vision while moving forward with our collective vision is a must. Unity is a must. We serve in an awesome Army at an awesome post in an awesome corps, division, brigade, battalion, and company at an awesome time. There is nowhere else I would rather be than right here, right now. I’m thirsty, I’m parched, and with just over three months into my command, I have about 86 weeks, or 608 days, or 14,600 hours, or 876,000 minutes to make this team thirsty. Time is tickin’ and it takes more than me.

There are two ways to influence behavior in the military: You can demand it or you can inspire it. So today, I offered my team this question: What can we do today to accomplish our goals and make our team thirsty?

The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.

© Copyright 2015 MCWingate. All Rights Reserved.


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