Archive for command

Leadership That Is McChrystal Clear

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

When a military leader hangs up his combat boots after a long and successful career, I always hope that they plan to share their experiences, wisdom and leadership philosophies in the pages of a book.  It has become commonplace in the last two decades for a military officer who has been successful on the battlefield to write a book about their life in uniform (Schwarzkopf, Franks, Powell).  And, throughout history, we have been fortunate to learn a lot about our greatest, most storied Generals and Admirals (Washington, Grant, Lee, Halsey, Nimitz, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur, etc.) through their own writing and words, and those of historians, biographers, authors, and bloggers who have determined that learning and discussing what made these military officers great leaders is valuable knowledge to current and future leaders and scholars.  You can find an assortment of these books on the internet.

General Stanley McChrystal (U.S. Army Retired) has written a memoir entitled, “My Share of the Task,” adding to the list of many great military leaders whose life in uniform has been chronicled.  Stanley McChrystal retired in July 2010 as a four-star General in the U.S. Army.  His last assignment was as the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and as the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.  He had previously served as the direc­tor of the Joint Staff and as the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.  He is currently a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and the co-founder of the McChrystal Group, a leadership consulting firm.

I have yet to add McChrystal’s book to my bookshelf, so this post is not a review or endorsement of it.  I absolutely intend on grabbing a copy of his book very soon.  Instead, this post is to highlight his leadership philosophy and wisdom that allowed him to climb the ranks of the United States Army to become a Four-Star General.  While most people are focusing more attention on how his career came to an abrupt end following a Rolling Stone article in 2010, I would prefer discussing his leadership.  I think each of us can learn a lot from this warrior, statesman and scholar.

A one-of-a-kind commander with remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal is widely praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations.  He stresses a uniquely inclusive leadership model focused on building teams capable of relentless pursuit of results. When old systems fall short, McChrystal believes true leaders must look for ways to innovate and change.  From his extraordinary career, McChrystal reveals a four-star management strategy, stressing openness, teamwork, and forward-thinking.

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General McChrystal is the co-founder of the McChrystal Group.  From his time as a commanding general, he revolutionized key leadership principles such as transparency and inclusion; leveraging the power of teams through shared ownership; and sharing a clear vision for winning with an extended team.

He, along with his team at The McChrystal Group, have developed a program called the CrossLead Way.  The principles and operational structure of CrossLead are based on the exceptional military leadership successes of the General and his staff.  The principles of CrossLead are:

1. Trust

Build a foundation of relationships based on trust and teamwork.

2. Understand
Understand the operating environment and your organization while constantly adapting for purpose.

3. Align
Align the team around a clearly defined vision, set of values and an achievable and resilient strategy.

4. Communicate
Force and foster a culture of inclusion, transparency, and accountability through constant communication.

5. Decide
Create shared ownership by decentralizing decision-making and execution to the most effective level.

6. Discipline
Ruthlessly prioritize, maintain a disciplined and sustainable battle rhythm, and focus on what only you can affect.

7. Win
Accomplish your objectives. Succeed constantly by relentlessly assessing and improving performance. Win.

From these principles, the McChrystal Group believes that the collective wisdom of an organization is it’s most valuable resource – that trust, speed and discipline are decisive – that leaders are made and leadership is a choice.  Most importantly, we believe in winning in any environment.

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Since General McChrystal’s retirement, he has shared what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military as a public speaker and lecturer.  His overall leadership premise is how can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets?  His answer is by listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure.  This blog has featured General McChrystal in the past, but I wanted to again highlight some of the key points General McChrystal emphasizes in his presentations to groups, organizations, companies and students:

1) If your people do everything you taught them to do, and they do those things properly, you led them well. People follow leaders.

2) Leaders can let you fail, and yet not let you be a failure.

3) Leaders build confidence and trust in their people. And, those who you are leading have to have faith and trust in the leader. Leaders have to build faith, trust and confidence.

4) In failure, the leader must reach out to his force and rebuild trust and confidence…rebuilt confidence in the force, rebuilt confidence in the leader, and rebuilt confidence in the seniors of the leader and the force.

5) A leader must build consensus and a sense of shared purpose with his force.

6) How does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people their leading are doing? Leaders must become more transparent and a lot more willing to listen.

7) Keep your promises and live up to your obligations; to your subordinates, your peers and your superiors. Be ready to support them when they need you most.

8) A leader isn’t good because he is right. They’re good because their willing to learn, and to trust. If you are a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And, if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.

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Unfortunately, General McChrystal’s career ended sooner than he or anyone anticipated, but in no way short of victory.  As with any abrupt departure of a high-profile military leader due to controversy, scandal or integrity issues, we should always look at what that person did in their career in total; the quality of the individual, and the successes they achieved.  General McChrystal dedicated 34 years of his life to the United States Army, and his leadership, warrior spirit and patriotism, without question, is what makes him one of the great military leaders of our time.  The military prematurely lost this officer, but the private sector has gained a gem in McChrystal (to use a bit of a pun).  We now become the new benefactors of his teachings, wisdom and philosophy.  Through his new book, we can see inside this man and the principles that have made him successful. , beyond the controversy of the Rolling Stone article back in 2010.  As I said earlier, I intend on purchasing his book, and I think you should too.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Articles –

McChrystal Speaks Out on Rolling Stone Article (foxnews.com)

General Stanley McChrystal: Leadership Lessons from Afghanistan (Forbes.com)

Stan McChrystal: Trading Shadows for Showtime with accompanying video Q & A With General Stanley McChrystal (time.com)

‘I Accept Responsibility’: McChrystal On His ‘Share Of The Task’ (npr.org)

Gen. McChrystal’s Lessons in Leadership

(cnbc.com)

[Video] Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal on Leadership (youtube.com)

Sources –

Plywood Leadership: Lessons on Leadership from a Warrior, Statesman and Scholar – Accessed 13 January 2013 – Association for Corporate Growth (ACG Global) – http://www.acg.org/

CrossLead Way – Accessed 13 January 2013 – McChrystal Group – http://www.mcchrystalgroup.com/home

Listen, Learn…Then Lead – Accessed 13 January 2013 – Command Performance Leadership blog – https://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/

Photo Credits –

Book cover and profile picture – The McChrystal Group via http://www.mcchrystalgroup.com/home – Accessed 13 January 2013

Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn…Then Lead – http://images.ted.com/images/ted/1e1176d6968f6b244a1962d6231a5410fa7d8ef9_389x292.jpg – Ted.com – Accessed 13 January 2013

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment)

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

David Marquet is the founder and President of the consulting firm Practicum, Inc., and creator of the blog Leader – Leader (Leader to Leader).  For those of us who are acquainted with David on social media, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, he often posts words of inspiration and motivation that are sometimes offered as points to ponder; things to make you stop and think.  David’s messages inspire the empowerment of engaged people and leadership at all levels.  He encourages leaders to release energy, intellect, and passion in everyone around them; to develop leaders not followers.  This obviously comes natural for David, as he has been an inspirational leader, taking people and organizations from good to great, since his days in the Navy.

A proven practitioner and innovative thinker, David graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981, and led a distinguished 28 year career in the United States Navy’s Submarine Force, serving on submarines in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  He commanded the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763), stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and completely turned around the boat.  Under David’s leadership, the crew went from being “worst to first.”  The USS Santa Fe earned numerous awards, such as the Arleigh Burke Award for being the most improved ship in the Pacific, as well as the Battle “E” award for most combat effective ship in Submarine Squadron Seven, and for retention excellence.  David’s bold and highly effective leadership techniques emphasize process over personality and empowerment over ego.  Noted author Dr. Stephen Covey rode USS Santa Fe and discusses one of Captain Marquet’s leadership practices in his book, The 8th Habit.[i-a] [ii-a]________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Command of the USS Santa Fe –

In early Jan. 1999, the USS Santa Fe experienced a change in leadership that would alter the way many on the crew would exercise leadership.[iii-a]  The crew Marquet inherited was the lowest performing crew in the US submarine fleet.  But it didn’t stay that way.  What Marquet did was change the culture aboard his boat from one of permission to one of intent.  Aboard his boat, his sailors didn’t ask permission, they announced their intentions.  The captain was still in charge and could still affirm or deny the intention, but every action was owned by the person performing the action.  He built in accountability.  The crew aboard the Santa Fe wasn’t just accountable for the results; they were accountable for their actions.  They were not just accountable to some arbitrary metric, they became accountable to themselves.[iv]

Through the process of running the day-to-day functions of the submarine and being trusted to do so, the crew came to understand that principles, not personality, ensured success. When they were trusted to make personnel decisions, relied upon with confidence for information and resources to get the job done, and invited to assertively exercise their individual strengths, they changed the way sailors viewed their jobs. Principles became their guides. Officers no longer waited for the captain to give direction. Instead, they began informing the captain of their intentions.[iii-b]

USS Santa Fe returns from deployment

The crew was united and empowered, and the sailors began to take ownership of the submarine to a degree.  They always held the key to empowerment within themselves. What they did was change their thinking from being followers to being leaders. Their guiding principle of empowerment read, “We encourage those below us to take action and support them if they make mistakes. We employ stewardship delegation, explaining what we want accomplished and allow flexibility in how it is accomplished.” Explaining what was wanted and allowing the chiefs the flexibility to determine how best to accomplish it had a drastic effect on the efficiency of the crew.[iii-c]

The key to empowering people is to not make them followers in the first place. This allows the managers (the chief petty officers) to be decision makers. They are the critical component to the completion of tasks that need to be completed. The sailors on Santa Fe are trained and educated to perform their particular skill sets to an advanced level. Trusting them to be decision makers, giving them access to vital information and supporting them when they make mistakes results in principle-based leaders that continue to grow.[iii-d]

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Capt. L. David Marquet is piped ashore after being relieved by Capt. Joseph Tofalo as Commander, Submarine Squadron Three.

Capt. David Marquet is piped ashore

Captain Marquet went on to command Submarine Squadron Three, a front-line submarine squadron in Pearl Harbor.[ii-b]  Although that tour’s duration was only 13 months, David’s leadership again produced results.  Marquet relinquished command with three of his squadron’s six fast-attack submarines deployed to the Western Pacific, a fact that Pacific Submarine Force commander Rear Adm. Jeffrey Cassias hailed as a huge accomplishment.[v-a]

“That Commodore Marquet is changing command with half of his squadron deployed is just the way he would’ve wanted it,” said Cassias. “It speaks volumes about the great challenges he has tackled during his command of Submarine Squadron 3.”[v-b]

At the time of David’s change of command ceremony Sept. 23, 2005, aboard USS Olympia (SSN 717) at the Pearl Harbor Naval Station, the USS Key West (SSN 722), USS Louisville (SSN 724) and USS Columbia (SSN 771) were deployed, having completed their deployment preparations under Marquet’s command.  Additionally, Olympia completed a deployment in the Western Pacific, while USS Chicago (SSN 721) was nearing completion of its deployment preparations.  The squadron’s sixth submarine, USS Honolulu (SSN 718), was nearing completion of maintenance availability in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.[v-c]

“Getting a submarine ready to deploy is not easy,” said Cassias. “It requires significant time training and certifying the crew, putting them through an intensive series of drills and inspections, and ensuring the ship is in peak material readiness, as well.”[v-d]

“Deploying four – almost five – of six submarines in a squadron is a great accomplishment for such a short tour,” said Cassias. “It’s something that wouldn’t have happened without a visionary leader at the helm.”[v-e]

Marquet, who was awarded the Legion of Merit by Cassias, credited his commanding officers and squadron staff for his success in preparing submarines to deploy.[v-f]

“It was a little over a year ago that I joined a happy few band of brothers here at Squadron 3, and we had a mission,” said Marquet. “The mission was very simple – the mission was to improve the combat effectiveness of our submarines.”[v-g]

Captain Marquet completed his Navy career running the Navy’s internal think tank, Deep Blue,* where his insightful and provocative analysis is being used to transform the Navy.[ii-c]

With his “Turn this Ship Around!” leadership program, Captain Marquet focuses on the people side of today’s highly technological and complex organizations – providing mechanisms and practices that foster empowerment and initiative; minimize errors and rework; develop leaders at all levels; and embed continuous learning and improvement in the work environment. The result is dramatically improved and enduring operational excellence.[i-b]

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David Marquet Develops Leaders –

Modern business requires moving beyond hierarchical leader-follower structures. The fastest and most effective way to accomplish this is by getting everyone in the organization to think like leaders. Practicum’s leadership development programs and leadership consulting stress empowerment over ego and process over personality. By learning to implement these ideas you will develop leaders throughout your organization and take the first step towards long-term organizational success.

The goal of leadership should be more than organizational effectiveness. Great leadership should:

  • Achieve organizational excellence along with superior morale
  • Embed mechanisms of excellence into the fabric of the organization, thereby creating enduring excellence independent of the leader’s tenure
  • Spawn multiple additional leaders throughout the organization capable of further developing highly successful organizations.[vi]

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David Marquet Delivers the Powerful Message that Anyone Can Be a Great Leader –

Great Leadership requires accomplishing three things. First, it must create a highly effective organization with superior morale. Second, leadership practices must be embedded into the fabric of the organization, beyond the current leader, to create an enduring leadership mentality. Finally, Great Leadership creates an organizational culture that spawns generations of additional leaders throughout the organization.

Accomplishing all three pieces of Great Leadership requires rejecting the traditional notion of leaders and followers, and instead embracing the concept of leaders and leaders. This method of leadership is based on empowerment, not ego, and process, not personality.

Based on his first-hand experience leading and turning around organizations, David Marquet espouses the following three overarching principles:

  • Practical Empowerment: rejecting the notion of leaders and followers, instead having leaders and leaders
  • Technical Competence: having a zealous dedication to preparation and knowing our craft
  • Continuous Improvement: embracing learning as the primary activity of the organization[vii]

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On Friday morning (Feb. 10), I saw one of David’s inspirational posts.  It said, “Leadership is an action, not a position.”  This simple quotation inspired me at that moment, and I thought about what David was saying.  Nothing happens without action.  Too often, people who call themselves ‘leaders’ fail their followers by not leading, and not inspiring action through those followers.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves about leadership, and it bothers me that there are followers out there who are not being properly led.  It bothers me that this kind of leader does not care about the fundamental growth of their followers.  It bothers me that those followers are not finding the success they deserve because they have inept leaders who care only about their next promotion.

The leader-leader movement was started by Mr. Marquet after he saw first-hand the debilitating effects of leader-follower, the limitations of empowerment programs, and the liberating power of treating everyone as leaders.[viii]  His goal is to change the way we interact as humans in a way that nourishes the natural proactivity, initiative, and creative energy of everyone.  His call to action is to develop leaders at every level and to empower people; people throughout an organization.[ix]

My response to David’s quote was this:

“Give a leader a title, he’s only as ‘good’ as his character will allow.

Give a leader a responsibility, he’s only as ‘good’ as his people.

But, give a leader the title of coach & mentor,

and give him the responsibility to develop his people in a servant style,

and he goes from ‘good’ to GREAT.”

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Articles –

No Room for followers: A Guide to Creating Leaders at Every Level by David Marquet

Re-Imagining Leadership, Re-Energizing the Workplace by David Marquet

“Empowerment in action” – Santa Fe’s lessons at work in the private sector– By Andy Worshek – Practicum Newsletter, September 2010

If You Want Your People to Perform, Don’t Give Them Permission…Give Them Intent – (http://blog.startwithwhy.com/refocus/)

How We Learn from our Mistakes on Nuclear Submarines: A 7 Step Process – (http://leader-leader.com/blog)

How We Made Leader-Leader Work on Santa Fe (Written by David Adams) – (http://leader-leader.com/blog)

How Does a Manager’s Leadership Style Influence Effectiveness? Provide example (http://leader-leader.com/blog)

Are Businesses Doing Enough to Encourage Leadership within their Organisation? – (http://leader-leader.com/blog)

A SEAL Mission – (http://leader-leader.com/blog)

Marquet Relieves Toti as Commander, Submarine Squadron 3 – (http://www.navy.mil/)

Seven Key Benefits of an Empowered Workplace – (majorium.wordpress.com)

Do You Have Faith in Your People? – (majorium.wordpress.com)_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*In my research of the Navy’s think tank, Deep Blue, I found the following article in the February 2006 issue of Seapower (Vol. 49, Number 2, page 6), The official publication of the Navy League of the United States, which discussed the broader role of Deep Blue as dictated under Admiral Mike Mullen (at the time, Chief of Naval Operations, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff):

A Broader Role For Deep Blue

Deep Blue, an internal Navy think tank founded in the wake of 9/11, is being given a far broader role within the service by Adm. Mike Mullen, chief of naval operations (CNO).

Deep Blue’s primary bailiwick was to provide the CNO with ideas about how to better support joint combat operations and advise him on his roles as the Navy’s service chief and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But Mullen has expanded its purview to include short-notice staging of naval and joint force maritime component commanders to provide “deliberate, contingency, crisis and exercise planning.” Top officials of Deep Blue began reaching out months ago to Navy component commanders to support their planning needs and bolster tepid support within some sectors of the Navy. The office now is internally being revamped to handle its broader role under Mullen’s aegis.

Deep Blue’s new role is envisioned as similar to that of Checkmate, the lair of Air Force air and space power strategists that provides the Air Staff and warfighters with options that are logistically supportable and politically feasible. Founded in the mid-1970s, Checkmate provides research, analysis, operational planning and strategic concepts development.

Rear Adm. (Sel.) Philip H. Cullom, Deep Blue director, told Seapower that the office’s “CNO-directed realignment is consistent with its latest portfolio of current projects, which includes operational plan development, introduction of new technology to the fleet, global war on terrorism initiatives, naval operational concept development, the use of advanced analytics in data management and a number of classified efforts.”

Deep Blue’s broader mission includes projects such as real-world planning in the Pacific and maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf.[x]

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Footnotes –

[i-a,b] http://www.afcea.org/events/west/09/documents/MarquetDavid.pdf – The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association – West 2009 – Documents: David Marquet – Accessed 10 February 2012 – http://www.afcea.org/

[ii-a,b,c]Practicum Inc. – About Us”http://www.practicuminc.com/about-us/ – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. – http://www.practicuminc.com/

[iii-a,b,c,d] “Empowerment in Action – Santa Fe’s Lessons at Work in the Private Sector” – By Andy Worshek – Practicum Newsletter, September 2010 – http://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/email/newsletter/1410479805 – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. – http://www.practicuminc.com/

[iv] “If You Want Your People to Perform, Don’t Give Them Permission…Give them Intent” – By Simon Sinek – Posted 01/30/2009 – http://blog.startwithwhy.com/refocus/2009/01/if-you-want-your-people-to-perform-dont-give-them-permissiongive-them-intent.html – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Re:Focus (Simple Ideas to Help You Thrive) – http://blog.startwithwhy.com/

[v-a,b,c,d,e,f,g] “Marquet Hands Over Reins of Submarine Squadron 3” – By Lori Cravalho – Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs – Story Number: NNS050924-02, Posted 09/24/2005 – http://www.navy.mil/search/print.asp?story_id=20287&VIRIN=28525&imagetype=1&page=1 – Accessed 10 February 2012 – NAVY.mil (Official Website of the United States Navy) – http://www.navy.mil/

[vi] “Welcome! Practicum Develops Leaders”http://www.practicuminc.com/ – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. – http://www.practicuminc.com/

[vii] “Programs”http://www.practicuminc.com/programs/ – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Practicum, Inc. – http://www.practicuminc.com/

[viii] “Leader-Leader Blog – About”http://leader-leader.com/blog/about/ – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Leader-Leader (The Movement) – http://leader-leader.com/blog/

[ix] “David Marquet – LinkedIn Profile”http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidmarquet – Accessed, via subscription to LinkedIn and authorized connection with Mr. Marquet, 10 February 2012 – LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com

[x] “A Broader Role For Deep Blue”SEAPOWER Magazine (The Official Publication of the Navy League of the United States), February 2006 (Vol. 49, Number 2, page 6) – http://www.navyleague.org/sea_power/feb06-06.php – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Navy League of the United States – http://www.navyleague.org/

Photo Credits –

Capt. L. David Marquet is piped ashore after being relieved by Capt. Joseph Tofalo as Commander, Submarine Squadron Three – photo by Lori Cravalho, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs – http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=28525 – Accessed 10 February 2012 – http://www.navy.mil/
David Marquet and USS Santa Fe Returning From Deployment – Practicum, Inc. – Accessed 10 February 2012 – http://www.practicuminc.com/
USS Santa Fe Logo – USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) – http://www.csp.navy.mil/subssquadrons/santafe/santafe_homepage.shtml – Accessed 10 February 2012 – Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet – http://www.csp.navy.mil/

Decision-Making in the New ‘Leadership Organization’

Posted in Leadership, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Last Friday, I posted Leading The Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom as the Video of the Week.  The video featured General Anthony Zinni, retired four-star Marine Corps General and a former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).  If you haven’t seen that post yet, please take some time to view it.  If you do not have the time to watch the video, I have provided a comprehensive summary of what General Zinni said in his lecture.

In that video, at the very end, following his lecture, around the 50th minute, General Zinni conducted a question and answer session with the audience.  A few of the questions were focused on World affairs and military actions in Afghanistan.  However, the second question that was asked (at approx. minute 56:43) led to one of the most poignant and educational messages of the entire video.  The answer that General Zinni provided compelled me to write this post.  I summarize the question and its answer below:

Question – Military teaches that leadership is a two-way street.  However, that thought process seems to be missing in the civilian sector.  Corporate executives are often viewed as ‘first in the chow line.’  How can we change this culture?

Anthony Zinni.jpgGeneral Zinni’s AnswerWhat’s important is how you view the leadership in your organization.  If you view the leadership as top down, the leadership is a structure – there is a line and a chain – There are designated bosses.  So, leadership in your organization is through that line, through that chain, through those tiers, through those individuals, and comes from the top and goes down to the bottom, which is a common way people think about it.  You’re missing the boat.

Think about your organization, in total, as a leadership organization, where you invite participatory involvement in decision-making; where people at every level, from the sides and the bottom, have a voice and a view, and are permitted and encouraged to provide feedback.  If you delegate more, if there is more distributed decision-making, then you see an organization that is a ‘leader organization.’

When we went to the all-volunteer military, after the Vietnam War, we changed to that model.  And, what became important, when we used to give an operations order, the commander gave a mission statement and a set of tasks.  And, we added to that what was called “Commander’s Intent”; the intention of the commander.  That overrode the tasks and the mission, because you were given a set of missions and tasks that were based on what you knew at that moment.  Like everybody knows, no plan survives the first shot that is fired.

By giving that intent, by making sure your unit and your organization understood your style of leading – what your expectations were – what you wanted to achieve – what you hoped those tasks would achieve – if those tasks don’t work, the freedom of subordinates to act within the intent, and not to the letter of the law.

In many ways, this is what frustrated our enemies.  The Soviet system was pure “top down.”  The commanders at the smallest levels did not have transmitters in their combat vehicles; they could only receive.  We wanted sergeant’s and corporal’s to input and respond.  We wanted to have a pool system; “tell me what you’re seeing up front?”  To take independent action, but it was very difficult because you had to create a culture and an understanding of where we were heading.  Everybody knew where we were heading and what we wanted to do.

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General Zinni then proceeded to talk about when he was a regimental commander, talking to his junior officers who wanted to know what ‘intent’ meant.  He said to them, in a role-play-oriented conversation:

“Lieutenant, when you’re sitting on a hill, and you have no communications, you’ve executed your last mission and you don’t know what to do next, you’re going to say to yourself, “What would Colonel Zinni want me to do right now?”  And, you’d be able to answer that question, and act.  And I would have known I had succeeded in communicating intent, creating an environment (an organizational environment) that we understood how we operated.  That would have been a successful way we do business.”

(That lieutenant) is part of the leadership.  He isn’t just the receiver of instructions, he is an executor of intent.  He provides leadership; sometimes laterally, sometimes from the bottom up.  He makes recommendations.  He doesn’t just report.  “Don’t just tell me what you see, lieutenant, tell me what YOU think should happen up there.”  He has a say.  It’s integrated into the decision-making process. 

So, the answer has to be, and what the military learned through tough experience, the hard-line monkey tree doesn’t work.

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What was General Zinni referring to, a ‘monkey tree’ organization?  Much earlier in the video, General Zinni described the “Monkey Tree.”  It goes like this:

“The leadership chain-of-command is like a tree full of monkeys.  When you look from the top down, you see a bunch of smiling faces.  When you look from the bottom up, the perspective’s a little different.”

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Not everybody gets it in the military yet.  You want to change that perception from the bottom up.  (Everybody is part of it).  It’s a leadership culture – it’s a leadership organization, as opposed to a leadership structure that just comes top down.  That’s the philosophy and the way we’ve got to approach leadership in successful organizations today.

That SEAL Team Six leader has to make decisions on that ground, he doesn’t have the next command up – the next command up – the next command up sitting next to him.  How does he make those decisions?  He is what we call in the military “the strategic corporal”; that young NCO (non-commissioned officer) on a street corner can make or break the entire operation if he makes a bad decision.  A (video or television) camera is going to be right on him.  (For example), those NCO’s at Abu Ghraib devastated the mission and the good work of thousands of troops by a lack of leadership and a lack of understanding what they were doing.

The organization has to be all glued in to the same intent, and have buy-ins and believe they are part of the leadership, and have input and have a say.  That’s the way we have to change the culture in that kind of environment.

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That concludes the General Zinni portion of this post.  But, regarding decision-making, taking action, and risk-taking, I wanted to bring General George S. Patton, Jr. into the discussion.  To hit upon each of these topics, below I present General Patton’s philosophy –

PROVIDE CREATIVE SPACE –

“Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

Patton believed in exploiting, encouraging, and rewarding individual initiative.  Patton saw leadership as mostly training and motivation.  The object of leadership is to create people who know their jobs and who can reliably supply the how to your what.

Source – Axelrod, Alan. Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. Page 165.

INDECISIVENESS –

“In case of doubt, ATTACK!!!”

Instead of waiting to see what might develop, attack constantly, vigorously, and viciously.  If you’re standing around trying to figure out what is happening or what the enemy is up to, you are making one hell of a good target out of yourself and your men.  Never let up.  Never stop.  Always attack.  “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.*

Source – Province, Charles M. Patton’s One-minute Messages: Tactical Leadership Skills for Business Management. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995. Page 46.

* Translation is, “audacity, more audacity, and even more audacity.”  Audacity, if you look in a thesaurus, also translates to boldness, daring, courage, bravery and nerve.  So, when in a position of indecisiveness, “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.”

TAKING ACTION and AVOIDING INACTION –

“Lack of orders is no excuse for inaction.”

It’s everyone’s job to strive unceasingly toward goals and objectives to ensure total victory.  Don’t think that you’re finished just because you’ve reached one objective.  Don’t wait for orders to continue the battle.  While you’re working and fighting for the current objective, you must be planning for the next assault.  History is full of tragic accounts of campaigns lost because leaders stopped on the wrong side of a river, because they didn’t have the initiative to exploit the advantage of a battle just won, and because they failed to obey the basic requirement to constantly be on the offensive.  Patton said, “I assure all of my officers and soldiers that I have never and will never criticize them for having done too much.  However, I shall certainly relieve them for doing nothing.”  When orders fail to come, they must act on their own best judgement.

Source – Province, Charles M. Patton’s One-minute Messages: Tactical Leadership Skills for Business Management. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995. Page 55.

RISK-TAKING –

“Take calculated risks.”

The key word here is calculated.  Almost everything in life is a risk to some degree, especially the outcome of a battle.  If you have well-trained soldiers, you have a good chance of winning, even though the odds may not be in your favor.  The key to a calculated risk lies in the esprit de corps of your soldiers.  If you and your enemy have a parity of resources in weapons, supplies, and men, the purely statistical chances of winning will be fifty-fifty.  However, If your men are well-trained, are highly motivated, have good morale, and possess a fighting and winning spirit, they’ll have what it takes to tip the scales and make the fight ninety-ten in your favor.  You’ll most probably win.  Your soldiers’ good morale and winning attitude can allow you to take a calculated risk.

Source – Province, Charles M. Patton’s One-minute Messages: Tactical Leadership Skills for Business Management. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1995. Page 77.

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Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom

Posted in Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Presented by General Anthony Zinni, USMC (ret.)

The Video of the Week

Video Length = 1:08:57

General Anthony Zinni is a retired four-star Marine Corps General and a former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the current Chairman for The Spectrum Group.  He graduated from Villanova University with a degree in economics.  He has attended the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and two Master of Arts degrees, one in international relations and another in management and supervision.

After his retirement in 2000, General Zinni served his country as the U.S. Peace Envoy in the Middle East and as the Special Envoy to the Henri Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (Indonesian, Philippines and Sudan peace efforts), and was an instructor in the Department of International Studies at the Virginia Military Institute.  In the Spring of 2008, he joined as an instructor at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he became the Sanford Distinguished Lecturer in Residence, and currently teaches a course at the Hart Leadership Program.  He is also a public speaker, and an author of two best-selling books on his military career and foreign affairs; Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America’s Power and Purpose and Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom, as well as his memoir, Battle Ready, co-authored with Tom Clancy

In today’s video of the week, General Anthony Zinni, USMC (ret.) is speaking at the 2nd Executive Leadership Forum of the George C. Marshall Foundation, on May 4, 2011, at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan.  If you don’t have the time to view the entire video, I have summarized it below.  But, I encourage you to watch the entire video; maybe watch it in 15 minute sections.

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General Zinni was asked to teach a course for senior undergraduates at The Sanford School of Public Policy (Sanford Leadership Center) at Duke University.  At the same time, a publisher he was working with wanted him to write a book about leadership.  At first, he thought that anything that he could write about leadership had already been written.  He wanted to write about the leadership of today.

When researching to write his book, General Zinni found that there were three kinds of leadership books:

1)      Reflections on leadership by great leaders

2)      “Feel good”  and motivational books

3)      Text Books

In General Zinni’s previous book, “Battle for Peace,” he had written about how the World had changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the last twenty years.

1)      The rise of globalization

2)      The rise of information technology

3)      Mass migrations

4)      The urbanization of humans around the World

The book discussed how these things were impacting every facet of our lives.  Not just the way we govern, and the politics, but also in business.  Although he saw some traditional strong leadership traits that can be carried over to today, he recognized that the kind of leadership that was needed might be different; this is a different World.  Does it present different challenges and different requirements?  The challenges that leaders face today are much different, much more involved and much more complex than they were 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago.

What is 21st Century leadership?  How is it different?  Where is it the same?  Who is succeeding and who is failing?  What do people think about leadership?  What do those who we lead think about us?

General Zinni wanted this leadership book to be across every spectrum of society in leadership, not just political leadership, or business leadership, or military leadership.  He researched a variety of surveys conducted by many institutions that studied leadership; surveys that take the pulse of the people about how they feel they are being led.  He approached Harvard, The University of Maryland, and many other institutions to see what people are saying about leadership.

In the 2008 Results of these surveys,  80% of the people said that we had a crisis in leadership in our society.  When looking at the breakdown of the surveys, not one element of leadership in our society  achieved over 50% approval rating; not political leadership, not religious leadership, not business leadership.  He was shocked that this is how they felt about it.  He thought that maybe some of this could be attributed to the economy; some of it to the pessimistic view people have now; things don’t seem to be going that well – maybe politically, maybe our foreign policy, maybe some of the business and economic disasters, or military issues.

This caused General Zinni to ask why?  Why is this happening?  The first thing he wanted to find out was why are leaders failing?  Why is there a sense of broad failure?  Why do leaders fail?

He didn’t want the book to be anecdotal.  He didn’t want it to be a personal opinion.  He wanted to base it on his own research.

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General Zinni found that there is one of three reasons leaders fail –

1)      Lack of confidence

2)      Lack of caring for their people

3)      Lack of the appropriate personal conduct

CONFIDENCE –

Today’s World is much more complex and difficult.  The amount of things people need to know is far greater.  The amount of skills you need to have to be a leader in any field is far greater.  Regardless of what you do for a living, your knowledge base has to be broader.  Successful leaders have to mushroom out, and need to possess skills and knowledge their predecessors never had to have.

General Zinni, when he first left the military and entered the business World, was an executive vice president working for a CEO who was ‘schooling him up’ on the World of business.  This CEO told him, “one thing we don’t like in business is tall, thin people.”  Zinni explained that these are people who have great leadership potential, but grow up in a narrow area.  People who possess a talent or a skill that everybody recognizes, who all of a sudden finds themselves at the top, and they realize that the narrow base that, for decades, they had been successful in isn’t sufficient.

Successful leadership development programs identify leaders early on and expand their base of knowledge early on.  Companies are taking potential leaders of the future and placing them in one department or area of focus, such as finance or accounting.  Then, after about a year, moving them into possibly marketing, or another fundamental discipline of the company; to spread them out and expand their knowledge and broaden their experience.

Being competent is much more difficult because the requirement to be much more knowledgeable, to be technically proficient, to have a broad-based education, and to continue to learn.  Leaders that succeed never stop learning.

CARING AND TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE –

We lead a very different workforce today.  It is most significant in its diversity.  Today’s diversity goes two ways:

1)      Racial, origin/ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

2)      Generational (silent generation, baby boomers, millennials, generation x, generation y, and the new silent generation)

Their upbringing and their environment have shaped them in a very different way.

In the Marine Corps, they say every Marine is green.  General Zinni insists they’re not all green.  Each of them is different.  Everybody’s (push) buttons are different.  The leaders that are successful can touch those buttons.  It’s been said that every individual is a story.  The great leaders want to know all of those stories.  That’s how you connect to everybody.  Organizations have to shape their leadership to fit that diversity; to fit that individualism.  Leaders have to understand where those differences are, and why they are different.  People respond to different motivations.

The greatest act of respect is listening.  How much time do we spend listening to those that work for us, or those we are responsible for?  That act of listening is the most significant thing.  And, that brings the leader the greatest respect, if you show interest in who they are, what they are, how they think, and how they care.  And, their feedback into what is being done.

The organizations, institutions, and companies that are interested in these things tend to be much better.

PERSONAL CONDUCT –

We live in a World that is under greater scrutiny.  Personal conduct, ethical behavior, and moral behavior have greater focus and greater attention.  Even though that is the case, there are still leaders who still do not get it.  There are still leaders who don’t understand that their personal conduct is under direct scrutiny, and it reflects on the organization.

The organizations that tend to succeed, and the leaders who tend to succeed, are interested in feedback at every level, and interested in developing subordinates.  The demand for counseling, mentorship, and coaching has been the greatest change in organizational and individual development.  Organization programs that focus on young, developing leaders to:

1)      Understand themselves

2)      Have greater self-awareness

3)      Understand who they are

4)      Understand where their leadership levels are

5)      Understand where their skill levels are

6)      Help them identify their limitations

7)      Identify the good things, and capitalize on the good things

Organizations have to work with these young leaders and have to provide the means for them to develop their skills.  These young leaders have to see, interact with and get to know senior leaders that have succeeded that they can relate to.  They need to be paired up with people who have the skill or knowledge that they have limitations in, to help develop it.

Putting young future leaders in a ‘no harm, no foul’ situation; where they were put in a leadership environment and allowed to make mistakes; where you wanted to hear how they felt about themselves; to learn where their limitations might be; to be open and honest with them, but not in a way that it was going to affect their evaluation in any way.  All of this so that you can help them improve.  That takes a lot of trust from both the young leader and the coach/mentor.  Young leaders need to get this feedback, and get that feedback from someone they can trust to help develop them.

Successful leaders today are willing to admit what they need to work on, and they work on those things.  They don’t try to hide them or protect them.  And the organizations they work for help them with that process.

Great leaders today are great communicators.  They can communicate internally and externally; and, very effectively.  They’re the voice.  They give the vision.  The people of the organization can relate to them, and the leader has a personality that comes across.  Leaders don’t fear that communication.  The communication is constant.  Especially in an environment where there might be fear and uncertainty.  Hearing the leader’s voice becomes critically important.

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CRISIS AND CHANGE –

Every organization goes through crisis or change.  Crisis and change both have the same effect on an organization.  Managing your way through crisis and change is the mark of a good leader.  These leaders who guide organizations through crisis or change understand their organization.

The most successful organizations have become flat in their structure, streamlined, and flexible.  They team and restructure themselves as the demand requires; the demand from their customers, demand from their competitors, etc.  They are constantly changing and morphing.

General Zinni told a story about a small software company that he had come across that regularly restructured and reorganized; weekly, sometimes daily.  This restructuring may have been based on the demands of their contracts (what they had to do, and what the tasks were to deliver on the needs of the customer).  This company was unafraid to move around lines of authority, and change teams and restructure.  That is the ultimate in flexibility and adaptability.  This is not easy to do in any size or type of organization.  The old days of having one person in charge, one solid line of accountability and authority no longer exists.

Now, there are webbed or matrix organizational structures, where teams are temporarily built for a particular purpose, and then readjusted.  The military has learned that lesson and operates this way.  The way the military fights and goes into different missions doesn’t reflect their peace-time or structure is.  The old Napoleon staff system (Napoleonic structure staff), which the military had relied on for decades and centuries, is still reflected a lot in the business World or in government; it doesn’t work anymore.

General Zinni commented on when he was commander of U.S. Central Command in Iraq, managing the war in his headquarters in the war zone, his superiors, including the President of the United States, had the ability to see right into the battlefield.  It prevented him the opportunity to give context to what they were seeing on the battlefield.  But, it is the reality of the technology we have today.  Being beamed into the White House Situation Room, and the living rooms of every American, is something that is raw that doesn’t have the opportunity of time and analysis to go through to put it in context.  That is the World we live in.  You can get lost in the shuffle, get behind the power curve, or lost in time if your organization has too many tiers.  Organizations now don’t need it because of the technology out there.

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TECHNOLOGY TODAY –

The leaders today that can master technology, particularly communication and information technology, tend to do best.  Technology is changing so rapidly that systems that might be current and useful to an organization now might become obsolete in a very short period of time.  It gets expensive.  But, technology dominates our World.

There are pros and cons to technology’s advancement and dominance.  The pros are that it flattens the organizations, allows for greater span of control, and it provides you with more information.  The cons are that it requires speed to react to, and it can be overwhelming.  Through this, we’ve lost the ability to think, analyze, and strategize.

Companies are receiving tons of information, and they are responding to it in knee-jerk reactions.  They fall into the trap that faster is always better.  Sometimes it is.  Sometimes 80% solutions given in time are better than 100% solutions now.  But, it becomes a trap, and there is no thinking that goes on.

The new generation (with email, texting, Twitter, Facebook and many other social forums) is receiving literally thousands of pieces of information, and transmitting thousands of pieces of information.  General Zinni is concerned with what goes on between the reception and the transmission; “Are there any brain cells being engaged.”  The ability to process the information is symbolic of our World.

General Zinni, when he was the commander of Central Command, had to conduct video teleconferences with his field commanders around the World.  It might be 3:00 in the morning wherever these participants were during these video teleconferences.  Zinni, looking at all of these different screens, is trying to give them direction and guidance, and he is trying to look into their eyes and see if they got it, if there’s some uncertainty, or lack of understanding.  In his opinion, the certain technology has affected the personal touch necessary in communicating with people.  Some people need (require) that personal touch when communicating with others.

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STRATEGY –

Strategy is a lost art.  We no longer think strategically.

It starts with an organization’s vision statement; what and where does the company want to be five and ten years from now?  CEO’s are too focused on the next fiscal quarter.  Companies operate from quarter to quarter without having a vision for the long-term.

Leaders have to have a long-term vision and strategy; for leaders to know where they are going, and they know how they want to get there.  They know what the goals and objectives are, and the action plans that will accomplish them.  They know how to allocate their resources to make things happen.  Any organization that is operating short-term, while losing site of the long-term, is heading for big trouble.

It is not only important to plan for the long-term, but to communicate it to everyone in the organization; to give them a sense of where they are heading.  It helps build some of the confidence against that apprehension that they have in this kind of environment.

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VALUES –

The leaders today that are successful also have a strong set of values; they have a code.  They have a personal code, and a code on how an organization is going to be run.  The code is more than the standards of conduct posters on the wall.  Some companies are quite proactive to give their employees multiple choice tests online on company ethics, and then show the companies statistics of knowledge on the standards of ethics within the organization.  What these things don’t tell you is if the people are living and breathing that kind of ethical behavior.  Is it really permeating and understood within the organization.  As a leader, you want to know the true behavior of your people.

You can’t run a large organization without problems and issues.  Sometimes people are well-meaning, and might compromise on standards because they think they’re doing something better for the company, or they’re willing to take a short cut to get something done.

How much do the senior leaders demonstrate personally the standards of conduct and values?  It means a lot to the employees, because they have certain expectations and images of them.  If the boss takes shortcuts, or is willing to compromise the values, then there is no ethical system within the organization.

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CRITICAL THINKING –

At the Marine Corps University, they teach course on how to think; critical thinking, systems thinking, creative thinking.  They teach how to do an analytical assessment of the issues and problems you might face.

In many companies, the big boss says, “we have a problem,” and calls all of the middle managers into the conference room.  Everybody gathers into the conference room and the boss says, “We’re going to solve the problem.”  But, nobody stops to define the problem.  Nobody stops to determine what they are exactly trying to get at; what are we facing?

It’s important to stop and define the issue and problem.  Sometimes it is not the problem you thought it was; it could be worse, it could be less.  It could be a different problem altogether.  Sometimes it might not even be a problem.

Actionable Intelligence – You have raw intelligence, but it has to be analyzed and put together in a way that leads you to be able to make the decisions and the actions necessary to resolve the issue.

Analysis – To tackle the problem, you’ve got to break it down and analyze it.  You have to break it down into its parts.  Then, you synthesize it and put it back together in a way you can use it; a way that is meaningful to the problem solvers.  Synthesis is part of the analytical process.  Then, you have to look at the issue within its context.  The analogy would be that we all live within a system; and we live within a system of systems.  You can’t pull something out and look at it in isolation, because it affects a number of other things.  When you try to deal with a problem in isolation, you don’t know how it will impact the other parts of the system.  You’ve got to analyze what part of the system it is, and how does that system interact with other systems.

Analytical Decision-Maker –When you learned to drive a car, you were an analytical decision-maker.  You have a lot of information and data coming at you from all different directions and you have to make decisions in a reactionary way.  You looked at a situation, analyzed it, and then decided the proper (and safe) course of action.

Recognitional Decision-Maker – You’ve been through so many different situations over and over again over time that you can recognize what is going on, or what is going to happen, and know what you need to do.  These become decisions that at some point you don’t even think about it, you just know what to do.  There are patterns that you see, and you see them accurately.  You can see these patterns, and you understand, from examined experience, where it is taking you.

Intuitive Decision-Maker – These people know, with a quick glance, what course to take.  They understand the intangible parts of a situation.  They have a sense of a situation that comes from extensive experience and knowledge.  They develop their ability to make decisions through an analytical, recognitional to an intuitive process.  You’ve learned lessons from what you’ve gone through and can make intuitive decisions.

To develop leaders to become critical thinkers and good decision-makers, companies should put future leaders into actual experiences and pressure situations, learning lessons from what they’ve been through, to help them build up a bank of capabilities.  General Zinni emphasized this by talking about his experience in Vietnam as a 2nd Lieutenant.  Today, 40 years later, he still looks back on that time and those experiences, and draws lessons from those experiences.  These are lessons he has come to realize over time, and after reflecting on other experiences he’s had throughout his career.  He has had the ability to analyze things in a broader context due to how he developed, matured and was educated.  Now, he can see things, and draw a lesson from them that he might (or could) not have been able to do immediately afterward.

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In the 21st Century, it is a much more complicated, complex World.  When a remote thing happens in the most isolated part of the World, it affects everybody.  Why would we be in a situation where a bunch of rag-tag people living in mountains and hills in Afghanistan cause the World to turn totally around, and affect everything we do?  Ultimately, down to our businesses and to the way our government reacts, our foreign policy, how we’re viewed around the World.  It’s the nature of the World now.  There are no small things that go on in the World.  It’s a much more confused World.  This World has become too complicated.

Education and curiosity – curious leaders try to understand everything.  Leaders have to have a broad base of interests, not just focus on one part.

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At the very end of the video, around the 50thminute, General Zinni conducted a question and answer session with the audience.  For the most part, the questions were primarily focused on World affairs and military actions in Afghanistan.  However, the second question asked (at approx. minute 56:43) led to one of General Zinni’s most poignant, thought-provoking, and on target messages of the entire video (the answer runs through minute 1:01:33).  If you haven’t watched the video, or haven’t gotten that far into the video, I encourage you to look at this specific part of it while you’re reading this post.  His answer was so good, I have decided to discuss this single piece of the lecture in a separate blog post, because the topic deserves its own separate forum.

The question was, “Military teaches that leadership is a two-way street.  However, that thought process seems to be missing in the civilian sector.  Corporate executives are often viewed as first in the chow line.  How can we change this culture?”  Next Week, we will continue with General Zinni’s answer to this question and some further analysis.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Sources –

“Anthony Zinni”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Zinni – Last modified on 13 January 2012 – Accessed 19 January 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

The Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Vice Admiral (VADM) James Bond Stockdale was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, a fighter pilot and one of the most highly decorated officers of the Navy.  In September 1965, he ejected out of his A-4E Skyhawk over North Vietnam.  For eight years, Admiral Stockdale was held prisoner and was frequently tortured.  He organized the American’s resistance against the North Vietnamese.  VADM Stockdale was awarded 26 personal combat decorations and four Silver Stars.  In 1976, he received the Medal of Honor.  From October 1977 until August 1979, he served as president of the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.  Admiral Stockdale died in 2005 and is buried at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Admiral Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), presented the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award to two commanders at the Pentagon in the Hall of Heroes on January 5th.  The Navy established the award more than three decades ago, in part to recognize VADM Stockdale’s distinguished naval career that symbolizes the highest standards of excellence in both personal character, example and leadership.  The annual honor recognizes two active-duty commanding officers, one from each coast, below the rank of captain, who are in command of a single ship, submarine, aviation squadron, or operational warfare unit, whose service shows personal character and excellent leadership.  These commanders are nominated by their peers, and recommended by their fleet commanders, for consideration by a panel of senior officers.

Commander (CDR) Robert B. Chadwick II, representing the Atlantic fleet, former commanding officer (CO) of the USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), based in Mayport, Florida, and CDR Gerald N. Miranda Jr., representing the Pacific Fleet, former CO of the San Diego-based submarine USS Asheville (SSN 758), both received this year’s award.  They were given the award due to their leadership, personal initiative, exemplary performance and contribution to the overall success of the operational units they commanded.  By receiving this award, they are considered to be the best in the fleet, according to their peers.

CDR Chadwick credited his success to his crew on the Roosevelt.  “Although this award is being presented to me I honestly feel as though it is a unit award,” said Chadwick. “This award is for inspirational leadership and if that is true inspiration flowed both ways because I was inspired every day by the Sailors of Roosevelt. I won’t presume that I fully earned it the highest compliment I could receive would be that I was a commanding officer that Roosevelt’s remarkable crew deserved and I accept this award on their behalf.”

Chadwick said, “I was inspired every day by the sailors of Roosevelt” and “Whenever you are in a leadership position, your mindset needs to be, I am here for them…I think where leaders can get in trouble is if they ever take the approach, ‘They are here for me’. If you take that service approach, ‘I can only be successful if they are successful’, then I think you can’t go wrong.”

Chadwick said part of his leadership style is to build the confidence of sailors and give them the opportunities they need to succeed. That worked well on the Roosevelt, he said.

CDR Miranda said that, to him, the Stockdale award means being a role model for crew members and commanding officers both at work and at home.  “Although my name is on the plaque, it’s really a crew award. Without my courageous and dedicated crew this recognition would not be possible. Each and every Sailor onboard shares in this award’s prestige; they are a group of ordinary men doing extraordinary things,” said Miranda.  “Being a commanding officer is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year job that requires constant and unrelenting standards,” Miranda said. “It means doing the right thing all the time regardless of the obstacles and pressures to do otherwise, as well as being the example for others to follow.”

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Command Leadership is a challenging undertaking, even under the best of circumstances.  Being in command of these ships and squadrons is not all about winning awards and accolades.  It’s about leading Sailors through some of the toughest personal and professional challenges imaginable.[i]

The Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale award embodies all of what the core values and leadership principles represent.  The recipients of this award have demonstrated their ability to gain the trust of their respective crews, have gained their loyalty, and have ultimately succeeded at inspiring and influencing them to accomplish the mission of the ship.  These two Naval officers were proud, yet unselfish in their acceptance of this award; giving all of the credit to their respective crews.  In the military, officers don’t spend a lot of time bragging about what they’ve accomplished.  They focus on how they can help their team.  They instill a sense of belief in their people, and, in turn, their people are confident that they can accomplish their goals and objectives.  Officers in the military should not focus on advancing their careers, as much as they should work to advance the knowledge and experience of their subordinates.

Commander Chadwick and Commander Miranda have demonstrated their ability to influence others through emotionally intelligent interaction, ability to demonstrate a strong team approach, and ability to understand the personal and professional motivators of their crew that provided the impetus for organizational progress.  Congratulations to both of these fine officers and gentlemen.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


Sources –

“Sub CO, former skipper earn top Navy honor” – By Jill Laster (staff writer) – Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 – http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/09/navy-sub-co-former-skipper-earn-top-navy-honor-090611/ – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.navytimes.com

“31st Annual Stockdale Leadership Awards Presented by CNO” – By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity – Navy – Release Date: January 5, 2012 – http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64644 – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.navy.mil

“ ‘Aye-Aye Skipper!’ There Should Be More Stories Like This… ” – By Darlene Iskra – Posted January 17, 2012 – Battleland Blog (where military intelligence is not a contradiction in terms) – http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2012/01/17/aye-aye-skipper-there-should-be-more-stories-like-this/ – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.time.com


Footnote – 

[i] Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award Winners: A League of Extraordinary Officers and Gentlemen – By Captain Mike Lambert – The Real Navyhttp://therealnavy.com/default.aspx, accessed 17 January 2012

Photo Credits –

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity – Navy – Accessed 17 January 2012 – http://www.navytimes.com

Qualities that Lead to Success

Posted in Leadership, Traits with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

In recent posts, I have been introducing the core values and the eleven principles of leadership that are the foundations of an effective and successful leader.  I continue that discussion here with the traits that are the dimensions of the professional leader that are the guiding tenets that drive toward success and victory.

These 14 leadership traits are qualities of thought and action which, if demonstrated in daily activities, help leaders earn the respect, confidence, and loyal cooperation of their followers, peers and superiors.  It is extremely important that you understand the meaning of each leadership trait and how to develop it, so you know what goals to set as you work to become a good leader and a good follower.  Knowledge of the following leadership traits is essential for the practice of good leadership.

JUSTICE

Definition: Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.

Suggestions for Improvement: Be honest with yourself about why you make a particular decision. Avoid favoritism. Try to be fair at all times and treat all things and people in an equal manner.

JUDGMENT

Definition: Judgment is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.

Suggestions for Improvement: You can improve your judgment if you avoid making rash decisions. Approach problems with a common sense attitude.

DEPENDABILITY

Definition: Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.

Suggestions for Improvement: You can increase your dependability by forming the habit of being where you’re supposed to be on time, by not making excuses and by carrying out every task to the best of your ability regardless of whether you like it or agree with it.

INITIATIVE

Definition: Initiative is taking action even though you haven’t been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.

Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your initiative, work on staying mentally and physically alert. Be aware of things that need to be done and then to do them without having to be told.

DECISIVENESS

Definition: Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weight them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.

Suggestions for Improvement: Practice being positive in your actions instead of acting half-heartedly or changing your mind on an issue.

TACT

Definition: Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.

Suggestions for Improvement: Begin to develop your tact by trying to be courteous and cheerful at all times. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

INTEGRITY

Definition: Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.

Suggestions for Improvement: Be absolutely honest and truthful at all times. Stand up for what you believe to be right.

ENTHUSIASM

Definition: Enthusiasm is defined as a sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of your duties. If you are enthusiastic, you are optimistic, cheerful, and willing to accept the challenges.

Suggestions for Improvement: Understanding and belief in your mission will add to your enthusiasm for your job. Try to understand why even uninteresting jobs must be done.

BEARING

Definition: Bearing is the way you conduct and carry yourself. Your manner should reflect alertness, competence, confidence, and control.

Suggestions for Improvement: To develop bearing, you should hold yourself to the highest standards of personal conduct. Never be content with meeting only the minimum requirements.

UNSELFISHNESS

Definition: Unselfishness means that you avoid making yourself comfortable at the expense of others. Be considerate of others. Give credit to those who deserve it.

Suggestions for Improvement: Avoid using your position or rank for personal gain, safety, or pleasure at the expensive of others. Be considerate of others.

COURAGE

Definition: Courage is what allows you to remain calm while recognizing fear. Moral courage means having the inner strength to stand up for what is right and to accept blame when something is your fault. Physical courage means that you can continue to function effectively when there is physical danger present.

Suggestions for Improvement: You can begin to control fear by practicing self-discipline and calmness. If you fear doing certain things required in your daily life, force yourself to do them until you can control your reaction.

KNOWLEDGE

Definition: Knowledge is the understanding of a science or art. Knowledge means that you have acquired information and that you understand people. Your knowledge should be broad, and in addition to knowing your job, you should know your unit’s policies and keep up with current events.

Suggestions for Improvement: Suggestions for Improvement: Increase your knowledge by remaining alert. Listen, observe, and find out about things you don’t understand. Study to become more knowledgeable in your field.

LOYALTY

Definition: Loyalty means that you are devoted to your organization, and to your seniors, peers, and subordinates. You owe unwavering loyalty up and down the chain of command, to seniors, subordinates, and peers.

Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your loyalty you should show your loyalty by never discussing the problems of the organization, your team, or members on your team with outsiders. Never talk about seniors unfavorably in front of your subordinates. Once a decision is made and the order is given to execute it, carry out that order willingly as if it were your own.

ENDURANCE

Definition: Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership. As they say in the Marine Corps, pain is weakness leaving the body.

Suggestions for Improvement: Develop your endurance by engaging in physical training that will strengthen your body. Finish every task to the best of your ability by forcing yourself to continue when you are physically tired and your mind is sluggish.

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In addition to the fourteen leadership traits discussed above, there are seven others that have not been discussed in detail.  six of these seven are mentioned in the book Fundamentals of Naval Leadership, by the Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy.  The additional traits are cooperation, sense of humor, ability to write well, ability to speak effectively, creativity, self-discipline and charisma.  Charisma is the only one not referenced by the United States Navy.  The ability to write well and the ability to speak effectively would easily fall into one central trait, communication.  In a future post, I will define and discuss these additional leadership traits.  Also, we will go into further detail and discussion about all of the leadership traits and qualities that lead to success.

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Source –

Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, Alabama), United States Air Force Air War College, Gateway to the Internet Home Page – United States Marine Corps – Marine Corps Leadership Traits – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmc/leadership_traits.htm

Listen, Learn…Then Lead

Posted in Leadership, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Stanley McChrystal (as seen on TED.com)

The Video of the Week

(scroll down to see today’s video)

With a remarkable record of achievement, General Stanley McChrystal has been praised for creating a revolution in warfare that fused intelligence and operations. A four-star general, he is the former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the former leader of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. McChrystal’s leadership of JSOC is credited with the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein and the June 2006 location and killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. McChrystal, a former Green Beret, is known for his candor.

After McChrystal graduated from West Point, he was commissioned as an infantry officer, and spent much of his career commanding special operations and airborne infantry units. During the Persian Gulf War, McChrystal served in a Joint Special Operations Task Force and later commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment. He completed year-long fellowships at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1997 and in 2000 at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2002, he was appointed chief of staff of military operations in Afghanistan. Two years later, McChrystal was selected to deliver nationally televised Pentagon briefings about military operations in Iraq. From 2003 to 2008, McChrystal commanded JSOC and was responsible for leading the nation’s deployed military counter-terrorism efforts around the globe. He assumed command of all International Forces in Afghanistan in June 2009. President Obama’s order for an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan was based on McChrystal’s assessment of the war there. McChrystal retired from the military in August 2010.

In the following video from TED.com, General McChrystal shares what he learned about leadership over his decades in the military. How can you build a sense of shared purpose among people of many ages and skill sets? By listening and learning — and addressing the possibility of failure. Some of the key points General McChrystal emphasizes in this discussion are:

1) If your people do everything you taught them to do, and they do those things properly, you led them well. People follow leaders.

2) Leaders can let you fail, and yet not let you be a failure.

3) Leaders build confidence and trust in their people. And, those who you are leading have to have faith and trust in the leader. Leaders have to build faith, trust and confidence.

4) In failure, the leader must reach out to his force and rebuild trust and confidence…rebuilt confidence in the force, rebuilt confidence in the leader, and rebuilt confidence in the seniors of the leader and the force.

5) A leader must build consensus and a sense of shared purpose with his force.

6) How does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people their leading are doing? Leaders must become more transparent and a lot more willing to listen.

7) Keep your promises and live up to your obligations; to your subordinates, your peers and your superiors. Be ready to support them when they need you most.

8) A leader isn’t good because he is right. They’re good because their willing to learn, and to trust. If you are a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And, if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.

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Sources –

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Listen, Learn…Then Lead: Stanley McChrystal on TED.comhttp://blog.ted.com/2011/04/05/listen-learn-then-lead-stanley-mcchrystal-on-ted-com/

TED.com: Ideas Worth Spreading – Stanley McChrystal’s Profile on TED.com – “Stanley McChrystal: Military leader”http://www.ted.com/speakers/stanley_mcchrystal.html

Eleven Principles of Leadership

Posted in Leadership, Principles with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

The following eleven principles of leadership may look familiar to those who have served in the United States Navy. They are the guiding principles for leadership for the Navy and the Marine Corps. They are presented here in a universal context that can be applied to both the corporate and military environments.

Developing these 11 leadership principles will help make you a better leader. Together, they will form a set of traits and values that define your character as a leader. Adopting these principles will guide your actions with your employees and your company, and provide direction throughout your career. These principles are also an important tool for self-evaluation. You can use them to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and seek self-improvement.

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. An accurate and clear understanding of yourself and a comprehension of group behavior will help you determine the best way to deal with any given situation.

  • Make an honest evaluation of yourself to determine your strong and weak personal qualities.
  • Seek the honest opinions of your friends and superiors to show you how to improve your leadership ability.
  • Learn by studying the causes of success or failure of other leaders.
  • Develop a genuine interest in people.
  • Have specific goals and definite plans to attain them.
  • Have a systematic personal reading program that emphasizes not only professional subjects but also includes topics to help you understand people, both as individuals, and in their functioning groups.

2. Be technically and tactically proficient

Demonstrate your ability to accomplish the mission and be capable of answering questions. Maintain a high level of competence in your occupation and specialty. Your proficiency will earn the respect of your people.

  • Know what is expected of you, and then expend time and energy on becoming proficient at those things.
  • Form an attitude early on of seeking to learn more than is necessary.
  • Observe and study the actions of capable leaders.
  • Spend time with those people who are recognized as technically and tactically proficient. Learn as much as you can from them.
  • Seek feedback from technically and tactically competent people concerning your own performance. Be willing to change.
  • Seek opportunities to apply knowledge through the exercise of command. Good leadership is acquired only through practice.
  • Prepare yourself for the job of the leader at the next higher rank.

3. Know your subordinates and look out for their welfare

You should know your people and how they react to different situations. Knowledge of your people’s personalities will enable you, as the leader, to decide how best to manage each person and determine when close supervision is needed.

  • Put the welfare of the women and men for whom you are accountable before your own welfare.
  • See the members of your unit, and let them see you, so that every one of them may know you and feel that you know them. Be approachable.
  • Let them see that you are determined to fully prepare them for the accomplishment of all missions.
  • Know your unit’s mental attitude; keep in touch with their thoughts.
  • Ensure fair and equal distribution of rewards.

4. Keep your subordinates informed

Informed employees perform better and, if knowledgeable of the situation, can carry on without your personal supervision. Providing information can inspire initiative and will ensure your people have enough information to do their job intelligently.

  • Whenever possible, explain why tasks must be done and any pertinent amplifying instruction.
  • Arrange to get sufficient feedback to assure yourself that immediate subordinates are passing on necessary information.
  • Be alert to detect the spread of rumors. Stop rumors by replacing them with the truth.
  • Build morale and esprit de corps by publicizing information concerning successes of your unit.
  • Keep your unit informed about current policies and initiatives affecting their pay, promotion, privileges and other benefits.

5. Set the example

Set the standard for your employees by personal example. Your employees will watch your appearance, attitude and personal example. If your personal standards are high, then you can rightfully demand the same of your employees.

  • Show your subordinates that you are willing to do the same things you ask them to do.
  • Be physically fit, well-groomed and correctly dressed.
  • Maintain an optimistic outlook.
  • Conduct yourself so that your personal habits are not open to criticism.
  • Exercise initiative and regard the spirit of initiative of your subordinates within your unit.
  • Avoid showing favoritism to any subordinate.
  • Delegate authority and avoid over-supervision, in order to develop leadership among subordinates.

6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished

Before you can expect your employees to perform, they need to know what is expected of them. Communicate your instructions in a clear, concise manner, and allow your people a chance to ask questions. Check progress periodically to confirm the assigned task is properly accomplished. But, avoid micromanaging your people or the task.

  • Issue every directive as if it were your own.
  • Use the established chain of command.
  • Encourage subordinates to ask questions concerning any point in your instructions or directives they do not understand.
  • Question subordinates to determine if there is any doubt or misunderstanding in regard to the task to be accomplished.
  • Supervise the execution of your orders.
  • Exercise care and thought in supervision. Over-supervision hurts initiative and creates resentment; under-supervision will not get the job done.

7. Train your unit as a team

When training or instruction is necessary, train your employees with a purpose and emphasize the essential elements of teamwork and realism. Be sure that all employees know their positions and responsibilities within the team framework.

  • Study, prepare and train thoroughly, endlessly.
  • Encourage unit participation in recreational and company events.
  • Do not publicly blame an individual for the team’s failure or praise just an individual for the team’s success.
  • Ensure that training is meaningful, and that the purpose is clear to all members of the team or organization.
  • Train your team based on realistic conditions.
  • Insist that every person understands the functions of the other members of the team, and the functions of the team as a part of the unit.

8. Make sound and timely decisions

Rapidly estimate a situation and make a sound decision based on that estimation. There is no room for reluctance to make a decision. Should you discover you have made a wrong decision, revise it. Your employees will respect the leader who corrects mistakes immediately.

  • Develop a logical and orderly thought process by practicing objective estimates of the situation.
  • When time and situation permit, plan for every possible event that can reasonably be foreseen.
  • Consider the advice and suggestions of your subordinates before making decisions.
  • Make sure your people are familiar with your policies and plans.
  • Consider the effects of your decisions on all members of your unit.

9. Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates

Show your employees that you are interested in their welfare by giving them the opportunity for professional development. Assigning tasks and delegating authority promotes mutual confidence and respect between the leader and the team.

  • Operate through the chain of command.
  • Provide clear, well-thought-out directions.
  • Give your subordinates frequent opportunities to perform duties normally performed by senior personnel.
  • Be quick to recognize your subordinates’ accomplishments when they demonstrate initiative and resourcefulness.
  • Correct errors in judgment and initiative in a way which will encourage the individual to try harder.
  • Give advice and assistance freely when it is requested by your subordinates.
  • Let your people know that you will accept honest errors without punishment in return.
  • Resist the urge to micromanage.
  • Be prompt and fair in backing subordinates.
  • Accept responsibility willingly, and insist that your subordinates live by the same standard.

10. Employ your team or organization in accordance with its capabilities

Successful completion of a task depends upon how well you know your group’s capabilities. Seek out challenging tasks for your organization, but be sure they are prepared for and has the ability to successfully complete the mission.

  • Avoid volunteering your unit for tasks that are beyond its capabilities.
  • Be sure that tasks assigned to subordinates are reasonable.
  • Assign tasks equally among your subordinates.
  • Use the full capabilities of your unit before requesting assistance.

11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

Actively seek out challenging assignments for your professional development. Seeking responsibilities also means that you take the responsibility for your actions.  You are responsible for all that your team does or fails to do. Stick by your convictions and be willing to accept justified and constructive criticism.

  • Learn the duties of your immediate senior, and be prepared to accept the responsibilities of these duties.
  • Seek a variety of leadership positions that will give you experience in accepting responsibility in different fields.
  • Take every opportunity that offers increased responsibility.
  • Perform every task to the best of your ability.
  • Stand up for what you think is right; have courage in your convictions.
  • Carefully evaluate a subordinate’s failure before taking action against that subordinate.
  • In the absence of orders, take the initiative to perform the actions you believe your senior would direct you to perform if present.

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Sources –

Maxwell Air Force Base (Montgomery, Alabama), United States Air Force Air War College, Gateway to the Internet Home Page – United States Navy – Leadership Principles – http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/navy/leadership_principles.pdf

Marine Officer “The Basic School” – Quantico, Virginia – Marine Officer – Leadership Principles – http://officer.marines.com/marine/making_marine_officers/basic_school/principles

Leadership Principles

Posted in Leadership, Principles, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Leadership in Battle

Hal MooreConsidered one of the top battlefield commanders in world history, Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore (US Army Retired) established his place in military history in 1965 when he led his vastly outnumbered troops to prevail in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.  Both on the battlefield and off, he has spent his lifetime studying and encouraging strong, principled leadership as a soldier and a human being.

The following video lays out Lt. Gen. Moore’s four main principles for a leader in battle.  Although they are discussed in the context of battlefield leadership, one can easily apply these leadership principles to a corporate environment by slightly adjusting the circumstances to a team or workplace scenario.  No matter if it is on a battlefield or in a corporate boardroom, leading a team to victory is the common goal.

Below are the four leadership principles for a leader’s conduct in battle, as discussed in the video:

1. Three strikes and you’re not out! There is always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.

There are two things a leader can do:

  • Contaminate his environment, and the unit, with his attitude and actions.

OR

  • He can inspire confidence.

A leader must be visible on the battlefield.  He must be self-confident, with a positive attitude, and exhibit confidence under any set of circumstances.  The determination to prevail must be felt by all, no matter what the odds or how desperate the situation.  He must have and display the will to win by his actions, his words, the tone of his voice, his appearance, his demeanor, his countenance, and the look in his eyes.  Instill the will to win. There can be no second-place trophies on display—awarded or accepted.

He must remain calm and cool; NO FEAR.  He must ignore the noise, the dust, smoke, explosions, screams of the wounded, the yells, and the dead lying around him; that is all normal.  He must not give off any hint or evidence that he is uncertain about a positive outcome; even in the most desperate of situations.

2. There’s always one more thing you can do to influence any situation in your favor.  And, after that, one more thing…and, after that, one more thing, etc., etc.

A leader must ask himself, “What am I doing that I should not be doing, and what am I not doing that I should be doing, to influence the situation in my favor?

3. A leader must always be ready! When there is nothing going wrong, there’s nothing going wrong except there is nothing going wrong.  That is when a leader should be most alert.

4. Trust your instincts.

In critical, fast-moving battlefield situations, Instincts and intuition give you an immediate estimation of a situation.  Your instincts are the product of your education, your reading, your personality, and your experience.  TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.  When seconds count, instincts and decisiveness come into play.  In quick, developing situations, the leader must act fast and part confidence to all around him; he must not second-guess the decision.  MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!  Face up to the facts, deal with them, and move on.

In addition, General Moore had a few more principles for military leaders to apply to their course of conduct:

  • Everything in leadership boils down to judgment. Intelligence and good character does not imply you have good judgment.
  • Study history and leadership qualities. Pay special attention to why leaders fail.
  • A person in a position of authority does not automatically become immediately respected or trusted. This is earned.
  • Every person in an organization is as important and necessary to a mission as the next person. That goes from the top to the bottom.
  • Never deprive a person of their self-respect. NEVER!
  • To do well in any field of endeavor, it is an advantage to work with good people.
  • Strive to have one or two people around you who are totally trustworthy.
  • Spend quality time with the team, learning who they are and what motivates them. Create a family.
  • Great leaders learn to lead themselves first. Before you can lead others, leading yourself successfully must be accomplished day in and day out.
  • Successful leaders create the future.
  • Leaders must lead. Be the first boots on the ground and the last boots off.

 

What Does “Command Performance” Leadership Really Mean?

Posted in Command Performance, Inaugural Posts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

I came up with Command Performance quite a few years ago as the title for my series of at least two books to be written about the study of military leadership and the foundations of strategy and tactics.  As discussed in my inaugural post, the book is a comprehensive text covering the principled values, virtues and wisdom that guide military and business professionals to victory.

Book one in the series is “Military Leadership – Concepts of Command (The Comprehensive Study of the Leadership Competencies of the United States Military),” which will be on leadership and management.  And, book two, “The Foundations of Warfighting Strategy – Integrating Warfighting Concepts into Force Capabilities, which will be on strategy and tactics.  Although they seem to have a predominantly military theme, the intent is to tie together the synergies shared between the military and corporate environments.

The term Command Performance has many universal meanings and interpretations related to leadership, and the execution of a task or action.  As you will see, these two words capture the entire leadership and strategy thesis of this blog, and my forthcoming books.  I will admit to you that I came up with the title before I ever realized the many significant meanings I am about to discuss.  In this discussion, in most instances, you must interchange the word command for the word lead, when it seems appropriate; command = lead.  You’ll know when this applies, in the proper context, within this discussion.

The common misconception is that command performance refers to the repeating of a great performance; a show that was so good that we need to see it again.  Although this isn’t the most accurate definition, I think it fits nicely into this discussion.  If a team or individual’s performance was a ‘good show’ and successful, we want to see it happen over and over again.  Think of an occasion where you saw a movie, concert, or play, where you enjoyed it so much that you absolutely planned on coming back again; once, twice, always.  The results of our work is no different.  Our leaders, supervisors, bosses want to see us succeed, and they want to succeed as well.  Performing poorly is not an option; especially in front of our audience, which includes our country, our customers, our peers, our company, etc.  whoever we serve, they expect great performances.  Our customers have paid for great performances; our companies pay us to provide great performances.  Figuratively, we are on stage when we do our jobs.  It is absolutely imperative that we do our jobs well, everyday and every time; to keep our customers coming back to us, or to keep our jobs.  When we have exceeded expectations, we deserve a command performance; and one should be anticipated.

But, the actual definition of command performance is ‘a theatrical or musical performance (a play, opera, ballet, etc.) presented at the direction or request of a reigning monarch or head of state (a king, queen, president, etc.).’  Otherwise known as The Royal Command Performance, since the earliest days of the monarchy, both in England and elsewhere, Kings and Queens have maintained minstrels and court jesters, and employed travelling troubadours to provide them with entertainment, and in its broadest sense any of these performances could be termed to be a ‘royal command performance’.[i]  From this context comes the play on words that comprises the many meanings of command performance.

A mistaken belief by many people is that military leaders, or military leadership in general, is an ‘in your face’ style of getting things done.  The vision most people have of the military is of a drill instructor barking out orders to recruits in boot camp; spouting profanity and displaying physical intimidation.  Those of us who served in the military certainly know that this is not true.  But, what is true is that, in the military, when we are given an order or directive to accomplish a task, it could mean the difference between life and death…winning or losing…success or failure.  When our boss demands performance, he/she does so with a determined conviction and authority that is unmistakable.  We know what is expected of us, and we deliver results.

To be commanding does not mean that you should be disrespectfully demanding.  When a boss, commissioned officer, CEO, commanding officer, etc., through his/her achievements and merit, have earned a certain level of respect and authority, and have gained the appropriate jurisdiction to command, he/she will demand performance; they will expect it.  When a leader insists that a job or task be completed, they mandate that there be the appropriate action required to accomplish the mission.  By their tone and determination, they direct with authority and control.  They give orders, exercising a dominating, authoritative influence over the individual, team or organization.  In addition to their authority, they possess knowledge, ability, skill, expertise and mastery.  There is a certain power and influence at the leader’s disposal, and they exercise and maintain the fitness to command.  In the act of commanding, the leader governs, instructs, directs, controls, oversees, inspires, and manages the process.  They take charge…they lead…they demand performance.

Another perspective of the term command performance is that the responsible leader will take ownership and accountability for performance.  Whatever the results of an organization, the leader owns the outcomes, and they are ultimately the individual who is accountable.  A good leader will never say things like, “it’s not my job…I forgot…it couldn’t be helped…”  There are no excuses; only results.  True leadership begins and ends with personal responsibility.  Success, or the failure, of any team or organization is reflected in the leader’s ability to take ownership of the outcomes.

Some of our leaders seem to be bigger than life.  This can come from fame or rank, character or respect, or from the prominence of the organization they lead.  They ultimately have a commanding  stature or persona.  It may not only be people who make us feel this way.  A leading company may have a commanding presence in their industry or region.  Or, a football team, by their dominance in their physical effort or position, has been commanding when they have taken a significant lead in a game.  Their play on the gridiron has been overpowering, and has overwhelmed their opponent.  Another example is the United States Navy.  They have Command of the Seas.  A naval force has command of the seas when it is so strong that its rivals cannot attack it directly.  To be a commanding presence is to possess or exercise controlling authority.  From that position, a person or an organization will earn and deserve respect and admiration.

There are more practical and literal definitions of the word command that require discussion.  A command is a directive or an order issued by one in authority or control of an organization.  A command is a signal that initiates an operation defined by an instruction, and is an action or task performed in response.  When we are given a command or task, we are expected to carry it out without fail.  Our command performance is expected to be professional and complete.

In the military, a Command is an organization (team, department, platoon, company, unit, post, region, district, etc.).  It is a body of troops, a station, or a ship under a the leadership of a Commander.  It may be an organization with a specific function, such as the Strategic Air Command or the Military Sealift Command.  A command’s performance is vital to mission accomplishment, and could make the difference between winning or losing a battle or war; or making a profit, keeping a customer, becoming number one in an industry, etc.

When we talk about Command Performance, we are obviously talking about many things.  No matter if we are the leader, or the one being lead, we are always on stage, and we are always performing.  And, no matter what our work or role happens to be, we always have an audience that we are performing for; our company, our customers, our peers, our family, our country, etc.  The way in which we function (or perform) will either earn us a command performance, or will get us thrown out of the theater.  We need to command our performance to be successful.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


FOOTNOTES –

[i] A History of the Royal Command Performance, Don Gillan (Copyright), www.stagebeauty.net, accessed 7 December 2011

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