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What Are Your TTPs?

My conversation with Lieutenant Colonel Shaun Lister, Chair of the Criminal Law Department at the Army's JAG School, was good for more than just reconnecting. It had been about seven years since we'd worked together in those same offices at the JAG School and I think both of us had changed in good ways. Getting caught up was more than just talking about where we'd been, and we ended up spending a long time talking about leadership.

"Army Men 2" by Spesh98 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Anyone who has been around the Army has heard the term TTPs -- tactics, techniques, and procedures. It's used to describe how to do the various things the Army does, capturing all of those methods, expectations, and standards. TTPs don't describe why you're doing something, but they give you a proven way of doing a particular thing effectively.


You can think about the relationship of TTPs to your leaderhip this way, though it's a bit of a simplification.

Everything about your leadership should be grounded in your core values. Those values might be described slightly differently by different people, but I suggest that the most effective leadership is based on values that include respect, loyalty, duty toward others, and humility. When I talk about the values that form the bedrock of my leadership, I talk about trust, transparency, and empathy. I think those three words capture a host of principles that many people describe as servant leadership, although that term starts to describe a philosophy of leadership rather than the values that inform it. No matter how you describe them, your values should inform your broad approach to leadership. In turn, that leadership philosophy -- as applied to a particular role or position -- becomes your vision. Ideally, that vision is both articulated and shared with others. And ultimately, the how of bringing that vision to life are your TTPs -- the tools and methods of leadership.

If you think about the Great Pyramids, you have to get up close to see the base. From a distance, all you can see is the top. In the same way, your TTPs -- your leadership actions -- are the most visible aspect of your leadership. As you bring people closer, you can share with them your vision, your philosophy.


For Shaun, TTP is also an easy way to remember the core values that inform his approach to leadership. In this sense, they help to inform they why of what he does as a leader. While I approach leadership from a lens of trust, transparency, and empathy, he focuses on Trust, Teamwork, and Professionalism. These terms -- these pillars of leadership -- are the heart of our particular approaches to leadership. They are the values that we strive to pursue and to build our teams around and on which our philosophies, visions, and TTPs rest.


What are the TTPs that your team can most readily see from you? Have you brought them close enough to see you vision? Have you thought about what your bedrock values are? Give your leadership some attention. It just might be the thing that give your team direction in a confusing world.

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