Exploring the 12 Rules of Leadership – Part 2

Image two of the Rules of Leadership

Table of Contents

In a previous article, we introduced the 12 Rules of Leadership as taught by Jocko Willink in the book, Leadership Strategy and Tactics. (This title is on the Mesa Solutions’ reading list, which you can find here.) He gives a roadmap designed to inspire individuals to take charge, build strong teams, and achieve remarkable results. In this second of a series of four blogs, we’ll look at Rules 4, 5, and 6 with insights from our own leaders here at Mesa. These rules provide invaluable guidance for those striving to create high-performing teams and cultivate a culture where respect, accountability, and recognition flourish. 

Rule of Leadership #4: Treat people with respect. Regardless of rank, everyone is a human being and plays an important role in the team. Treat them that way. Take care of your people and they will take care of you.

“We all want to be respected. The hard part is not everyone is easy to respect. The funny thing about respect is that you don’t get to decide if people respect you; you have to earn it, much like trust. In order to be respected, you must first give respect. Same for Trust.

“One of the foundations of Mesa is customer service. We knew our competitors couldn’t care less about customer service, but we decided that was a key element to our future success. It cost us time and money, and, you guessed it, we had to give our customers respect first so that we could get their respect. Same for trust.

When Mesa was first getting started, we had a sales team making sales calls to some of our biggest customers. One of which is probably our biggest customer today. They treated us pretty poorly, as they probably treated all their vendors. Sometimes they would call the field office in Carlsbad in the middle of the night and really chewed out our guys. We were struggling at the time with harmonics, and no one understood what was going on. We took their feedback but never got on that lower level. We maintained a professional composure and delivered to the best of our ability. Today, that effort is still paying off.

“All people, regardless of culture, generation, or age, want the same thing: respect and purpose. They want to know the mission, why it is important, and what their role is in it, and they want to be recognized for their contributions.”

Fred Fichtner, Chief Operations Officer

Rule of Leadership #5: Take ownership of failures and mistakes.

“Out of all of Jocko’s fundamental rules of being a leader, this is by far my favorite. Taking ownership of failures and mistakes is not just fundamental as a leader but as a successful human being. It’s about taking responsibility for all things that happen in your life – good and bad, especially the bad.

“For me personally, it’s about control. I like the idea that I’m in control of the things that happen in my life and believe that I can take action that will impact anything and everything that happens to me. The minute a person blames another for something that went wrong, or claims “there was nothing I could do”, they admit they’re out of control. I firmly believe I have caused or at least could have prevented every failure, mistake, or unfortunate event that has happened in my life. This belief encourages me to constantly act and be thoughtful about the decisions I make each day.

“As a leader this means taking responsibility for not just your own failures and mistakes, but also for the failures and mistakes of your team. If someone on our Accounting & Finance team makes a reporting error, that is my fault. If we fail to appropriately set our pricing levels and end up losing money on a deal, I am responsible. Even if I had no knowledge or involvement in the error, it is still my fault. I could’ve done something to prevent the failure – an extra review, training for our team, placed more emphasis on the importance of accuracy, and so on.

“I have been blessed to be in a position here at Mesa that allows me to impact every area of the company. Consequently, that means every failure or mistake that happens at Mesa is also my fault. I could’ve acted, or influenced others in the company to take action that would’ve prevented those failures or mistakes.

“Take control of the world you exist in and don’t be a victim. Own your success but also own your failures, and the mistakes and failures of your team. Embrace failures and see them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Work together with your team to figure out why you failed, learn from your mistakes, then forge ahead and achieve your mission!

Michael Trott, Chief Financial Officer

Rule of Leadership #6: Pass credit for success up and down the chain.

“As leaders within the Mesa organization, we should understand that successful teams are not built on individual achievements alone, but on collective effort and collaboration. The detrimental effects of a culture that fails to acknowledge and reward contributions appropriately are clear. Instead, we advocate for a system that celebrates and rewards the achievements of all team members, regardless of their position.

“The central premise of the 6th Rule is that leaders should pass credit for success up and down the chain of command. Leaders must be willing to acknowledge their subordinates’ contributions and ensure they receive recognition for their hard work. At the same time, team members should be encouraged to give credit to their leaders and peers when they play a significant role in achieving success.

Utilizing Jocko’s 6th Rule serves as an outstanding guide for leaders and individuals seeking to create high-performing teams and foster a culture of mutual respect, trust, and collaboration. By implementing this rule, your teams will be able to unlock their full potential.

Jason Weickum, Supply Chain Director

Check back in a few months for Part 3 of this 4-part series. You can find Part 1 here.

As a preview, here are the remaining six rules:

  1.      Work hard. As the leader, you should be working harder than anyone else on the team. No job is                     beneath you.
  2.      Have integrity. Do what you say; say what you do. Don’t lie up or down the chain of command.
  3.      Be balanced. Extreme actions and opinions are usually not good.
  4.      Be decisive. When it is time to make a decision, make one.
  5.      Build Relationships. That is your main goal as a leader. A team is a group of people who have
         relationships and trust one another. Otherwise, it is just a disconnected, incoherent cluster of
  6.      Lastly, get the job done. That is the purpose of a leader—to lead a team in accomplishing a
         mission. If you don’t accomplish the mission, you fail as a leader. Performance counts

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