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What's More Powerful than Power to Give Orders?

It would be darned easy, almost expected, to let the power of leading a super-carrier simply become your management style. And yet one veteran military leader said he has learned giving orders is not the most effective way to lead.

The USS Nimitz is the world's largest warship at more than 1,100 feet long (if you want to read all the big numbers and take a tour, visit www.nimitz.navy.mil). When fully crewed, it has more than 5,000 people aboard, which is larger than some CUs' FOM. Its crew is young with life/death responsibilities that belie their youth (so don't think some of your MSRs can't take on a bit more). That crew is expected to deal with adrenaline-rushing excitement, and coma-inducing boredom. Charged with leading them is Capt. Mike Manazir, a 28-year Navy vet.

Grow Show attendees traveled to the Nimitz where Manazir spent more than an hour below decks sharing his management philosophy and taking questions from CU leaders. I've met more than a few CU CEOs with some pretty inflated egos (asset size seems to play no role), and yet here was a ex-fighter pilot who sits on top of a nuclear powered warship/airport showing a lot of humility, including admitting where he'd been wrong in the past and the lessons he's learned.

Case in point: Manazir said it wasn't until he was in his third command that he realized that, yes (sir), he could order anyone to do anything, but that wasn't the most effective way to get his vision executed. Instead, he needs buy in.

"I finally figured out...that people whose morale is high are embedded in the results," he said. Perhaps most interesting, Manazir's name tag reads "Chief Morale Officer." How many CEOs or board members would be willing to wear the same?

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