Mark Hammond, Rear Admiral of the Australian Navy was one of the speakers at our partners, The Rabbitohs recent business breakfast event. He reminded us that whether in sports, business, or any of the armed forces, we all have a huge opportunity to be personally responsible and leaders in our lives.
Growing up, Lionize CEO, Mikey Taylor was influenced by stories of leadership in the armed forces. Talking at the same event, he recalled a lesson from his grandfather, a squadron leader in the RAF during World War II:
“He told me this wonderful story, about the importance of getting your leadership messages and your communications absolutely right.”
Mikey’s grandfather flew a squadron of Lancaster Bombers. They could only fly about 200mph and were heavy and cumbersome. If you managed to fly 25 successful missions in a row, you were given time off – which no one could achieve.
Another challenge for the squad was the German Luftwaffe, who were very fast, taking flight at about 100mph faster than the English bombers. This engineering and advanced technology meant lives were being lost to enemy forces.
In an attempt to solve this, the military sent a message out, setting a brief asking to “make our bombers safer.”
Everybody responding to this brief started doing what you would rationally do – they covered the fuselage with extra reinforced metal, they created extra gunning positions. They put reinforced glass and steel around the cockpit.
The result turned a 17-tonne battle machine into an even slower 21-tonne beast. The idea of making them safer didn’t really ‘fly’ because it didn’t tackle the real problem.
At this time aviation manufacturer, Geoffrey De Havilland suggested, “I think our brief is not to make the Lancaster Bombers safer – but to bring our boys home safely.”
Words matter and that small change made a huge difference to the outcome. This brief made sure that the leadership message was clear and resulted in a completely different outcome.
De Havilland got to work, focusing his energy on the real issue. He stripped down everything from the plane. It went from x4 engines, to x2 engines. He removed the gunners positions. He created lighter, much more agile wooden planes. In doing so, he had developed the highly successful and super-fast, Mosquito bomber… helping to “bring our boys home safely,” including Mikey’s Grandfather.
The point is, before you draw up your brief, whether that’s in the military, in business, or in a prep talk before a big game – be mindful and clear on what you’re really trying to achieve. Your words have power and can have powerful results.
…and if you’re reading this and think you need help with your brief, have a few words with us.