be willing to pick up brass

be willing to pick up brass

So, you’ve been promoted to lead your team. Congratulations, that’s awesome! However, as you continue your journey, remember this: You might be one step higher on the career ladder now but that doesn’t mean you’re actually superior to others. 

In his book Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual, Jocko Willink points out two essential tenets of leadership: humility and an eagerness to pick up brass.

At its core, leadership is all about nurturing relationships, and if you want to earn the respect and admiration of your team members, stay humble and refrain from being a know-it-all. Be honest and open and display a willingness to learn, question things, and ask for help whenever required. If you behave like you’re the expert and you know everything and dismiss the opinions and suggestions of others, your team will quickly lose respect for you. In other words, don’t let ego and pride get in the driver’s seat. Stay hungry, stay foolish!

Next, you must be willing to pick up brass. What does that mean? It refers to the menial job of picking up all the bullet shells left on the ground after target practice. Often, people in leadership positions feel like they’re too good, too skilled or too qualified to take part in low-grade tasks. However, if you’re a leader and are open and ready to take care of a mindless job that anyway needs to be done, you gather huge respect from the people around you.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to spend your major time doing minor things all the time, but it’s a good practice to take the initiative and do unrewarding little things once in a while. It communicates solidarity and mutual support and gives you an opportunity to interact and bond with your team members helping you understand their motives and personalities in a deeper way.