Marine Corps Principles of Leadership
The Video of the Week
Video length = 44:11
The most popular post on this blog to date has been the Eleven Principles of Leadership. It has experienced the most page views of any post since this blog’s inception on December 5, 2011. In recent posts, I have been establishing the foundation of leadership by discussing the qualities of a leader, the qualities that lead to success, core values, and the eleven principles of leadership. Since this has had such popularity, and people have recognized the importance of these principles, I am continuing the discussion by introducing you to Retired Marine Corps Colonel Rick Craig. In this week’s Video of the Week, Colonel Craig describes how using the principles of leadership will help you become a better leader.
In this video, Colonel Craig covers a great deal more than just a discussion of the principles of leadership. As I always do with the video of the week, for those who cannot invest the time to view the entire video, I have summarized the important points of the video. Below the video, you will see the summarization of Colonel Craig’s lecture.
What is the difference between a manager and a leader? Managers deal with complexity. Managers take their team and tries to best assign each person; to put people where they can make the best and most effective contribution to the team, while being efficient.
Leaders care about how the manager is dealing with their complexities. But, in addition, leaders care about motivation. Leadership is about motivation. What a good leader does is they establish the climate and opportunity where people can motivate themselves.
What is the difference between leadership and management?
- Leadership is the art of motivating a group toward a common objective
- Management is the process of working with and through others to achieve organizational objectives in an efficient and ethical manner
In the United States Marine Corps, leadership is learned and earned. Marine Corps leadership is considered an inventory of assets, and are a guideline for self-improvement that builds the personal plan for the future. They are the leadership traits; integrity, knowledge, courage, decisiveness, dependability, initiative, tact, unselfishness, enthusiasm, bearing, endurance, justice, loyalty and judgment.
Are Leaders made or born?
“Effective leaders are made, not born. They learn from trial and error, and from experience. When something fails, a true leader learns from the experience and puts it behind him.” – General Colin Powell
Performance appraisals are one of the most important jobs a leader must do. Feedback is an important part of what all leaders do. Colonel Craig referenced the Marine Corps Order 1610, the Marine Corps Fitness Report (FitRep); the Marine Corps performance appraisal system. Although there is one objective for Marines, they rank them in a pyramid of where their leadership potential lies. The Marine Corps grades Marines subjectively; to subjectively judge the character of the people they work with.
The cornerstones of Marine Corps leadership are authority (legitimate power), responsibility (obligation to act) and accountability (answering for one’s actions).
Authority – The power vested in the manager by senior management in the organization. That authority must be earned.
Responsibility – Taking action when a task needs to be completed. Knowing when it is time to take such action.
Accountability – Those who are responsible for something must be accountable. And, leaders are accountable for each and every person that works them.
Good leaders always give credit for accomplishments of their staff. Giving credit to individuals and teams will motivate them. But, if something goes wrong, and a leader blames an individual or the team, the leader will erode the leadership (credibility and trust) of that group. Leaders will take credit collectively for the group (“WE did this…we did that…my people did this…”). But, if something goes wrong, a good leader will take personal responsibility for what went wrong (“I made the wrong decision”).
Leadership Styles –
Many people think that the military is more autocratic than democratic in its leadership style. Styles of leadership can be situational, as well as based on the leader’s personality.
Telling Selling Participant Delegate
Leadership is about motivation. What is motivation?
- People must be motivated and encouraged to work effectively
- Ways to motivate include:
– Approval by management
– Rewards for work done
Some motivational techniques may fail due to certain influences. Projects may fail due to unexpected delays, unattainable objectives, impossible deadlines, etc. No amount of effort, overtime, etc. can help change the outcome. No amount of motivation will get the individuals and the team any closer to accomplishing the task or project.
All people are different, and deserve to be treated differently. What motivates one person may be totally demotivating to someone else. Good leaders will know this and treat each person the way that best motivates them. The mark of a good leader is to understand what motivates individuals.
- The motivation of an entire group collectively
- “The capability of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose.” – Alexander H. Leighton
- Esprit de corps (the spirit of the corps)
Examples of a morale problem:
- People coming in late
- People calling out sick
- Lack of productivity
Signs that morale is good:
- Productivity is up
- The working atmosphere is positive
- People are willing to do things
- People offer ideas
- People take initiative
How does the leader maintain morale? (from the “User’s Guide to Marine Corps Leadership”)
- Teach belief in the mission
- Instill confidence (through training, knowledge and experience)
- Consider job assignments carefully (who does what jobs)
- Demonstrate concern
In addition to the leadership principles, Colonel Craig discusses additional leadership guidelines. They are:
- Be patient
- Give Clear Directions
- Banish the “zero defect” mentality
- Do not over-supervise
- Be helpful
- Demand accountability
- Instill loyalty
- Maintain integrity
- Anticipate needs
A Leader’s Span of Control
The effective span of control (number of direct reports a leader can effectively manage) for a typical leader is 4 to 8. The Marine Corps uses the “rule of 3.”
What is an influence leader?
A person who is a de facto leader, but their authority is not embedded by the organization, but is given to them by their peers; because of their personality, their charisma, their longevity, their knowledge. Influence leaders are those who make organizations tick. They are also the agents of change. Influence leaders are the individuals organizations should identify to be promoted into management and leadership roles.
The Importance of Influence Leaders
- In a very flat organization, “influence” leaders emerge
- They may become de facto leads
- They are chosen by their peers due to their longevity, experience, personality, or communication skills
- They are also the agents of change
The Leader as a Teacher
According to the United States Marine Corps’ Fleet Marine Force Manual ONE (FMFM-1), leaders should see the development of their subordinates as a direct reflection on themselves. Leaders and their subordinates accomplish this in various ways:
- Controlled Exposure
- Formal (e.g., Instructor lead)
- Self-Taught (e.g., Books, CBT, E-Learning, etc.)
- Trade Publications
- Magazines (Authored or Read)
- White Papers (Authored or Read)
- Certificates/Association Membership
- Internally Recognized
- Industry Recognized
- Conference/User Groups
Colonel Craig’s Bottom Line is summarized as follows:
Managers who are also leaders:
- Learn from their employees
- Lead within the parameters of their personality
- Allow team members to succeed by failing
- Accept responsibility
- Promote testing within the organization
- Embrace new ideas and technology
Even with the best tools and processes in the World, if your staff is not focused and productive, your efforts as a leader will be weak and ineffective, and your finished product will reflect your poor leadership.
Next week’s Video of the Week will feature General Anthony Zinni, USMC (ret.). It will be entitled “Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom.”
Copyright © Dale R. Wilson