Keeping your organization strong

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent
Members of different private organizations have recently approached me with the same question, "How can I bring back the strength my organization once possessed?"

Every organization, whether it's a private club, sports team or military unit, will experience trials and tribulations that shake their foundation and threaten their existence. It is at these times, leaders and followers need to rise to the occasion in order to guide the organization back to the road of success. Though a daunting task, through smart decision making, perseverance and dedication, it can be achieved and any organization can thrive again.

In the words of Anthony "Lee" Iacocca, retired Chrysler Corporation CEO, "Don't let your power be hijacked and your greatness be replaced by mediocrity."

Leaders are making the critical decisions present day that mold their organization's future and directly affect the personnel who serve within it. Any organization can shine when faced with limited issues. There aren't a lot of questions when membership is high, personnel are falling over each other to "make it happen", and the river of shared ideas flows long and deep. However, when turmoil strikes, the operational tempo strains membership, and that river of shared ideas run dry, does your organization have the fortitude to still succeed? If not, what is your course of action? Hope?

Hope is not a course of action. There has to be strong leadership and followership up and down the chain because organizational resolve and dedication will be tested, and all personnel need to react.

In that moment of truth, members need to rise to the challenge and not lie there, paralyzed, watching the fruit of their labor and others before them, dry up and blow away. Some organizations will broaden their scope in "hopes" that one of the many new initiatives turns it around, but this is an overall bad idea. In short, a wide focus is no focus. It is pivotal to slim the focus to what truly defines the organization -- going "Back to Basics".

An organization's vision needs to be identified and defined to the point that all personnel have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives. It needs to be effectively communicated to serve as a road map for newcomers to understand in order to embrace the organization's direction.

This will drive a unity of effort to achieve that common goal -- together. There still are challenges and difficulties, but nothing hard work can't overcome.

Some failures are expected, it is part of doing business, but quitting is unacceptable. If an organization rebuilds with a deliberately focused vision, backed by strong leadership and followership, that organization will succeed.

As soon as there is the ability to stop reacting to past issues, a road can be paved for a promising future. Only at that point can an organization start to expand their scope. In short:

· Coming together for a common goal is a beginning
· Working together towards that goal is progress
· Reaching that goal is success

"Be willing to sacrifice the little things in life to pay the price of the things worthwhile."

This quote, by the legendary head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, sums up what is needed to build fortitude within an organization. The dedication to an organization is what defines its greatness.

The one resource that everyone covets is time. It is the common answer to why membership is down and participation is low. In my experience, a well-defined vision, driven by a unity of effort, doesn't require a great deal of time to make an organization successful, but there will be sacrifice.

Initially, members may get engaged for self-centered reasons. The key is to keep them engaged for the betterment of the organization. I guarantee they will find gratification in paving a better road for future followers, making positive changes that directly impact their current work environment, while further develop themselves professionally and personally.

Leaders also need to make the difficult calls on all issues for the advancement of the organization and their personnel. That is courage. Courage isn't swagger or tough talk with no action. It is the willingness to stand-up at the most crucial times, with one organizational voice, and not only identify that there is an issue but to correct that issue. The correction might be against the will of popular opinion, but ultimately it is for the good of all.

Is your organization strong? If so, don't lose your organizational power and let the greatness be replaced by mediocrity. Hope should never be a course of action to organizational issues. Instead, the organization needs to rise to the challenge, refocus and clearly communicate their defined vision to all.

The failures are a part of everyday business, but quitting is unacceptable. When a strong organization is faced with adversity, they come together as one, progress and succeed. This will never happen without its members' willingness to sacrifice the little things for the price of things worthwhile. Members need to pave a better road for future followers, and make the necessary changes for improvement. At the same time, through one common voice, organizational leaders need to have the courage to identify and correct issues, even if it is against the will of popular opinion. Nothing is nobler than self-sacrifice for the betterment of the masses.

The bottom line is that smart decisions, perseverance, and dedication needs to be demonstrated by its leaders and followers, at all levels within the organization. That is how you keep your organization strong!