Published on January 30, 2014
UncoventionalLeader The “Hot Skinny” on Being Unconventional Lieutenant Commander Chip Lutz United States Navy, Retired © 2014 Unconventional Leader, LLC All Rights Reserved
Hot Skinny Defined: Idiom used by American troops in Vietnam. Slang term used for information. Used in the same context as 411 or lowdown.
Conventionality is in the eye of the beholder. –Chip Lutz
About The Author LCDR Chip Lutz, USN(Ret), is the President and and founder of Unconventional Leader, LLC and works with leaders who want to lead better, get more done and leave a legacy. A retired Navy Officer, he has had two command tours, served as the Director of Security for Naval District Washington, DC during September 11th 2001 – where he was responsible for the safety and security of 25,000 people on 9 different Naval Installations in the National Capital Region during one of our Nation’s most trying times. He is the author of 3 books on leadership. In addition to his leadership speaking and consulting, Chip has worked for the past six years with thousands of Veteran’s returning from deployment and war zones; helping them reintegrate back into civilian life and apply their skills for the betterment of themselves, their families and their communities. For more information on Chip Lutz and his programs, please visit his webs ite at: http://bit.ly/unleader Or email him direct at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lieutenant Commander Chip Lutz United States Navy, Retired
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. What It Is About? 2. How Being Unconventional Served Me 3. How do You Get There? 4. Video Message From The Author 5. Unconventional Worksheet
CHAPTER ONE What Is It All About?
What Is Unconventional? The days of barking orders and having people do things just because you are the boss are over. I declare them dead. If you’re going to lead the workforce of today, the status quo will not work. Different is where I’ve lived and what I’ve been called most of my life. I just never thought it was true. A few years back, I was talking with a friend of mine and she asked me, “So, what made you different from other leaders you knew in the Navy?” It took me by surprise because I had never been asked that question before. I knew that my approach had been different from most in multiple situations. From putting my underwear on my head during a locker inspection during boot camp to the way I approached people in getting things done. Unable to answer right then, I went through the painstaking task of looking up, finding, and asking that question of the people I had worked with during my 22 years in the Navy.
Interestingly, 98% of the responses came back the same with, “You were different, you approached things unconventionally.” Like I said, I knew I was a bit different (I’ve always been a bit odd) but I never really saw my people approach to leading as anything but common sense. My main mantra was that of, “treat people like people, serve them to the best of your abilities, value their contribution, and they’ll give you their best.” What made it unconventional were the confines within which I worked (the military) and how I did it (with a sense of humor and play). Which led me to believe that conventionality is in the eye of the beholder. Value the contribution of people and they’ll contribute more.
CHAPTER TWO How Being Unconventional Served Me
Unconventionality In Action September 11th, 2001, started just like any other day. I got up early, went to the gym and then, after fighting DC traffic, was at my office by 6am. I was there a little earlier that day due to the fact that I had a 7am meeting with all of my Division Heads. Here’s the Backstory….. I had assumed the role of Director of Security about a year prior to September 11, 2001. It wasn’t a job that I got detailed to by the Navy, just a job I kind of fell into. I had actually been assigned as the Force Protection Officer (a role as a Anti-Terrorism advisor). When I got to DC to assume that role (about 14 months earlier), there really wasn’t much of a job for me. Plus, I was working for the Deputy Director of Security. He was a nice enough guy but he was a tech-geek with no people skills. Honestly, he also irritated (so much so that I would always find other things to do rather than be around him, if possible).
He had been the “acting” Director of Security for about six months due to the actual Directors long-term illness. About a month after I got there, the Director died. After we got the news of the death, the Head of Public Safety, Russ, called us all in to get our ideas on replacing the Director. When he asked, I looked around, and then raised my hand and said, “I’ll do it.” That’s how I became the Director of Security. I had no security background. I had no police background. I was a general officer (a jack of all trades and master of none). I did, however, have a great want to NOT to work for the Deputy Director any more and needed a larger challenge. End of backstory… At 7am, all of my Division Heads were there plus a few more. I had three police precincts, an investigations branch, a training branch, and a few other divisions. We immediately started debriefing the day prior. On September 10th, 2001, President Bush had visited the Washington Navy Yard and we had worked with Secret Service for three months to ensure his visit went off without a hitch. And, it did. We were justifiably proud of ourselves. We were a small group but we were able to run with the big dogs.
Although jubilant, we all had busy days ahead of us so we disbanded around 8am. After our meeting, I started my walk up to see my boss, Russ. Russ always had a long and ponderous list of things to do and I was sure today would be no different. Even though things had gone well, he would give me a list of opportunities (action items) to make things better. On my trek up, I decided to stop by and see some friends in Administration (I’m an Admin guy and you can never have enough friends in Admin...they get things done). I had been in admin for a while when I go the call over my radio to get to the Emergency Operations “Ops” Center right away. I rushed to the Ops Center and saw what every other American saw..the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. One of the guys I worked with was watching the TV as well and said, “That’s a strange accident.” I responded, “Jeff, that’s no accident. I don’t even fly planes and I could’ve missed that building if I were flying by it. That’s an act of terror.” We stood there, dumbfounded, and then we saw the second plane hit.
I rushed into Russ’s office and we agreed that this was an act of terror and our security posture should be raised. (Whenever an “incident” of terror happens, an immediate assessment is made and, usually the military will increase security measures until we know what is going on). I radioed my Division Heads to return to the Washington Navy Yard so we could meet and set our protocols. As luck would have it, they were still there. At first they had stuck around to continue the “slaps on the back” but then were immobilized by the turn of events. At 9:20 am, I sat down with my supervisors and we, quickly, discussed what protocols we needed to put in place. Since the act of terror was not in our immediate vicinity, we didn’t need to go on full lock down. By 9:35 am, we had everything set and ready to execute. Right when we were getting ready to disband, the Pentagon was struck by a plane at 9:27 am, killing 125 people. For those of you who are not familiar with the DC area, the Pentagon is a short four miles down the road from where we were.
My radio immediately went off. It was Russ. He said, “We need to...” and I finished his sentence with “set DELTA.” “Affirmative,” he replied “see me when complete.” My Division Heads looked at me and then we went to work. DELTA is the most secure an installation can get. It’s much like a roach motel...once things come in, they don’t get out. My Division Heads scattered. They got on the phones with their teams and, within 30 minutes, we had all six of our installations locked down. The rest of that day and the following year was a continuum of stress, revising plans, revisiting procedures, and we got through it. We got through it together and, in the end, we were proud of the way we served on September 11th and every day after. Charisma isn’t needed to lead others... only Character.
I start this way not to tell you how great we were on that day but to show you how far we’d come in a year’s time. A year prior our Security Organization was in dire straights. We had no training schedule. We had no plans. We had no procedures. We were 40 police officer under staffed and most of my “blue shirts” (term of uniformed officers on the street) were working 80 hours a week with a 9mm pistol strapped to their hip. They had no quality of work, workplace, or life. Morale was so low you’d have to get under a gnats belly to see it. A month after I assumed the responsibility for this department, the USS Cole got attacked off the coast of Yemen. It being a Navy targeted terrorist event, when we went to increase our security posture just one level, we were unable to. We lacked the resources and manpower to do it. Yet, a year later, after the attacks on 9/11 we were able to scale 4 security levels in 30 minutes. How did we go from rags to riches? Good morale is no accident (nor is bad).
I’d love to tell you everything changed because of my leadership but that would be a lie. In part, yes. But it was a team effort. We, as a team, got unconventional in our approach to getting things done. In an organization mired with red tape, power silos, and bureaucracy, unconventionality was our only device. Through everything, we asked: What’s going right? What’s not going right? What can WE do differently? AND THEN WE DID IT TOGETHER! You can do the same. No matter how messed up things are or how down morale is, you can change it around if YOU’RE willing to change how you do things. But, let’s get a few things straight, first. You need to know the secret to leading people, the truth about boot camp, and how YOUR individual unique experience makes you a unique (and different) leader.
CHAPTER THREE How Do You Get Unconventional?
The Three Questions Getting Unconventional Is As Easy As Asking Three Simple Questions Question #1: What’s going right? What’s going right can be elusive sometimes. We, as humans, have the propensity to focus on the negative and overlook the things that are going well. Sit back, reflect, and make a list of what you and the team do well. If it’s going well, DON’T CHANGE IT! You have enough to do! Question #2: What’s NOT going right? I usually know what is NOT going right. Maybe morale is down or communication is not at its best. What I might not know is why. The “why” it’s not going right is what is important. That is our target for change. If you know the why, you’re further ahead than I am most of the time. I ask the team the why. If you can, bring them together and hash it out. If you can’t bring them together, send an email, do a survey, or send out a smoke signal. Regardless of how you go about it, it’s best not to do it in a vacuum or you might end up working on the wrong why or even the wrong what.
The Three Questions Getting Unconventional Is As Easy As Asking Three Simple Questions Question 3#: What can I (WE) do differently? The layman’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. (I think that definition is attributed to Albert Einstein). WE NEED TO STOP THE INSANITY! How do you get to different? You CAN’T get a different result unless you do something different!
Getting Different A Simple Process For Getting Different First, insert a NOT! Anytime you put “not” in or out of a statement it completely changes the dynamic of that statement. For instance, I might think that my coworker, James is a “lazy good for nothing.” If I insert the power of NOT, James is “not a lazy good for nothing.” It sounds simple (and is simple) but I have to consciously remind myself to do it. What if that is NOT the case? What if it’s something different. Inserting the power of NOT gives you a different view and can lead you in a different direction. NOT CHANGES EVERYTHING!
Getting Different A Simple Process For Getting Different Second, ask “Why?” When I took over the supervision of a large security department, I had very little experience in that field. I read the instructions, policies and procedure manuals, but I still was at a loss why things were done a certain way. So I asked, “Why!?” This would garner some “puppy like” quizzical tilts of head but it nearly always got people thinking the same thing. If it was governed by higher authority and had to stay that way, we’d keep it. If not, we’d normally try a different approach. Not every change turned out to be 100% right, but we always learned and improved. WHY SPURS THOUGHT!
Getting Different A Simple Process For Getting Different Third, get some help. Each of us, as human beings, want to be valued as people and the contributions we make. Getting some help from the team on how to do things differently not only gives a greater breadth of ideas, it also shows you care enough to include (and value) all members of the team. Like I always say, “Many brains make bright work!” MANY BRAINS MAKE BRIGHT WORK!
Getting Different A Simple Process For Getting Different Fourth, enjoy the process. I surveyed over 200 people a few years ago and 98% of the respondents said that they liked to have an equal balance between working/getting things done and having fun while they do it. Granted, fun is subjective. However, each organization and/ or department has things that are funny to just them. Start there and build. FUN IS FUNCTIONAL!
CHAPTER FOUR A Message From Chip Lutz
Want To Get The REAL Hot Skinny? Watch This!
CHAPTER FIVE Unconventional Worksheet
Directions Schedule A Brainstorming Meeting and give everyone a copy of the worsheet. Give team members 5-10 minutes to think about questions one and two. Then facilitate a session where participants share what is going right and then what is not going right. Pay close attention and congratulate everyone on what is going right. YOU CAN NEVER OVERVALUE WHAT IS GOING RIGHT! The second portion of what is not going right gives an opportunity to vent. It also provides a clear vision into the third section of WHAT CAN WE DO DIFFERENTLY. The third section is the trickiest and also the most important. It is where the “rubber meets the road” on getting unconventional. Explain to team members that all ideas are on the table. Go around the room and brainstorm possibilities. Write EVERYTHING down. Use the process explained in the previous chapter for looking at things differently. After all ideas are out, pare down what should be first on the list (with the help of the team). Categorize things into immediate, short term and then long term targets. With the help of the team, figure out dates on when items need to be done and then follow up on them. If dates need to be adjusted, adjust them but, throughout it all, keep a clear line of communication open as to what is happening and when. Good luck! © 2014 Unconventional Leader, LLC All Rights Reserved
Unconventional Worksheet In your opinion, what are the things that are going right? What do you think could be going better? If you were King or Queen of the world, what would you do differently? (Taking that view gives a much different perspective). © 2014 Unconventional Leader, LLC All Rights Reserved
The only real test of a leader is that if, in the end, others can say they were better off because YOU were there. Thank you for investing in the success of your team members and, in turn, your own success! Lieutenant Commander Chip Lutz United States Navy, Retired
Set your leaders up for success today! Save time, money, and effort by bringing Chip in to share his 27 years of solid leadership experience with your tam so they can lead better, get more done, and leave a legacy. CLICK HERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION h"p://bit.ly/unleader Or Call: 262-960-2034
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