Archive for management

Plan For Failure

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

“I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.”

General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

We all strive for victory.  Each one of us hates to lose.  After all, it is essential for us to succeed in our daily lives.  We are obviously not living life to fail.  But, fail we will.

As important as it is to plan for victory, it is just as important to plan for failure.  Every ‘battle plan’ should consider all contingencies.  But, victory, of course, hangs on the details, and behind those details are hidden the pitfalls that can spell disaster and defeat.  We often take our eye off the potential negatives and ultimately find ourselves facing the unexpected.  This can easily be avoided.

Last week, we again saw another data breach hitting Anthem Blue Cross.  And, again, many experts are saying that this ‘disastrous’ data breach was avoidable.  When I first heard about it, my first thought was how something like this could happen again.  Haven’t these major organizations learned from other data breaches, such as to Michaels Stores, Home Depot, Kmart and ebay?  Aren’t major corporations taking steps to prevent these kinds of disasters from happening to them?  I can understand maybe not recognizing the unknown, but I cannot accept these companies blatantly ignoring what is going on around them, and to their peers in various corporate circles.  Again, planning for failure is just as important as planning for success.

In a recent blog post on The Military Leader, entitled 5 Questions That Can Save You From Disaster, author Drew Steadman discusses how failure can be avoided by not getting caught off guard by things that could have been anticipated.  As he states in his article, “A few moments of reflection can cue you in to the key indicators. And asking hard questions will force you and your team to acknowledge the situation you face.”  But, what I take away from Drew’s article is that you cannot wait for things to happen, or circumstances to change, before putting into place a plan that could work to avoid failure.  It is important to be quite aware of the peripheral things, because failure or victory are contingent on how (or if) you recognize and react to them.

One thing that I am certain of is that there will be a lot of uncertainty when planning for any outcome.  In essence, failures and miscues can be avoided by taking action based on our anticipation of the known’s and the unknowns.  And, doesn’t that sound familiar:

Recommended Reading: “The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld

Part 1: Three Reporters

Part 2: The Known and the Unknown

Part 3: A Failure of Imagination

Part 4: Absence of Evidence Isn’t Evidence of Absence

As my youngest daughter, Kassandra, when she hears something so profound, says, “what does that even mean?”  When Donald Rumsfeld first uttered this statement during a press breifing in February 2002 about the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups, he was making a point that there are various levels of certainty and uncertainty based on our knowledge of the facts as we know them, and the facts that aren’t yet clear. [View video of Donald Rumsfeld’s comments HERE]

To better define this, I found an article on SmartOrg by Don Creswell that defined the 3 Basic Sources of Risk and Uncertainty, which came out of a presentation by Kelvin Stott.

My take:

  • We must remain cognizant of those things that we know, while not discounting the possibilities that we think aren’t likely to happen.
  • We need to open more widely the avenues of communication, encouraging everyone to say something if they know something; share knowledge.  Nobody can assume the other knows what they know, nor can they think the information isn’t important.
  • Be Inquisitive and curious.  Ask questions and challenge the status quo.
  • We need to use our imagination, as well as look at the intelligence that is available, to make the best decision possible at the time.

Bottom line: Think outside the box, and don’t ignore the obvious.

“Failure is in a sense the highway to success, as each discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true.”

John Keats (1795-1821) British Poet

In the military, disasters could be due to bad planning, bad execution, bad weather, general lack of skill or ability, the failure of a new piece of military technology, a major blunder, a brilliant move on the part of the enemy, or simply the unexpected presence of an overwhelming enemy force.  But, what bothers me is when defeat and failure occur as a result of a known and preventable cause.  There are many military disasters throughout history that you can spend hours researching and realizing that they could have been avoided.

Recommended Reading: The Five Biggest Disasters in American Military History

I’m not suggesting that we are always going to be perfect.  What I am saying is that paying attention to certain details can make the difference between success and failure.  Being aware and prepared, innovative and imaginative, proactive and intuitive, can all make a big difference.

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) American speaker and motivational writer

As you look around at the people and organizations who are facing critical issues, problems, and crisis,[i] you should view those situations as instructive and constructive. They should, for you, act as lessons learned.[ii]  We can learn as much from other people’s failures, as we can from our own.  Try to recognize what took that person or organization into the direction of failure, and plan to do the things necessary to avoid them happening to you or your organization.

Don’t be smug thinking that these things cannot happen to you, or that they are rare or isolated incidents.[iii]  And, don’t be arrogant in the thought that these things can’t happen to you … Or, that ‘things just happen.’[iv]  Don’t let things happen because you failed to prepare, or you grew over-confident with success. Plan for failure.[v]  Don’t fall to complacency or laziness.

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Inspired by five consecutive Tweets (#5Star #5Tweet) I posted on Friday, February 13, 2015:
[i]     Tweet 1 of 5
[ii]    Tweet 2 of 5
[iii]   Tweet 3 of 5
[iv]   Tweet 4 of 5
[v]    Tweet 5 of 5
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Sources:

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

The Navy SEAL’s Way to Business Leadership Success

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Recently, I came across a three part article series entitled, “From the Battlefield to the Boardroom: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Business Leadership Success,” on Forbes.com.  These articles were written by Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL and a cast member on NBC’s new reality super show “Stars Earn Stripes.”  Brent’s articles are another example of how military experience and leadership are invaluable when applied to business.

I find Brent’s articles to be quite informative and educational, and I wanted to bring all three articles to you.  In his articles, Brent discusses training, planning, communication, teamwork, managing in a chaotic environment, recruiting great talent & hiring great leaders, and successful leadership traits, among other topics taken directly from his Navy SEAL training and experience.  What is discussed in these articles translates nicely to a business environment.  It is Brent’s thesis that it would be beneficial to any organization to put these critical lessons learned on the battlefield into action in the workplace.  Additionally, he emphasises the importance and value of hiring veterans because of their leadership ability and the skills they’ve gained as members of the United States military.  In these three articles, Brent lays out the battle plan that will make business successful, profitable and victorious.

Below, I present abstracts and links to each of the three articles.

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From the Battlefield to the Boardroom: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Business Leadership Success

Six Aspects of Military Leadership Critical to Building a Successful Business and Developing a Driven Team (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Mission Communication
  2. Mission Planning
  3. Mission Team
  4. Mission Structure
  5. Mission Debrief
  6. Mission Training

Continue reading “From the Battlefield to the Boardroom: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Business Leadership Success (Part 1 of 3)” via Forbes.com HERE

Managing in a Chaotic Environment – Building a Team In the Midst of Chaos:  Forging SEAL Leadership (Part 2 of 3)

Originally, Part 2 was going to focus on strategic planning but I thought it would be more appropriate to discuss team building first and address that important topic later.  In this post, I will focus on building the team and managing in a chaotic environment. Most of my readers will probably never serve in the military or be in a combat situation, but we all deal with our own chaotic environments every day. In business, this could be a brand crisis, employee turnover, economic issues, or even externalities that mentally affect your staff. It’s essential that leaders know how to successfully guide their teams through these situations.

There is no better time to have a strong unified team than amidst chaos. That’s the basic principle of the Navy SEAL training program.  Before we can manage a strong team within our organizations, we must build one.

Continue reading “From the Battlefield to the Boardroom: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Business Leadership Success (Part 2 of 3)” via Forbes.com HERE

Identifying Great Leaders (Part 3 of 3)

The Result of War

Having been at war for more than a decade now, it is inevitable that the U.S. workplace has been, and will continue to be, flooded with men and women leaving the military.  This consistent wave of military veterans entering the workforce is a great opportunity for any organization looking for leaders.

Military men and women are taught leadership skills from their first days in service.  In Part 2, I wrote about SEAL training’s brutal Hell Week and how it teaches the students to immediately learn how to lead under pressure and amidst chaos.  In the SEAL teams, both Officer and Enlisted team members are given incredible amounts of responsibility during training as well as in combat.

Continue reading “From the Battlefield to the Boardroom: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to Business Leadership Success (Part 3 of 3)” via Forbes.com HERE

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About the Author –

Brent Gleeson spent five years in the Unites States Navy as a Navy SEAL.  During his service he completed several combat deployments to Iraq and Africa in support of the War on Terror.  His team’s primary objective was running capture or kill missions working in conjunction with the CIA.  Since leaving the Navy, Mr. Gleeson has become a serial entrepreneur that is passionate about leadership, building companies, and fostering positive change in his community and beyond.  As co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Inc. (IMI) it is Mr. Gleeson’s primary focus to oversee brand development and marketing strategies.  As co-founder and one of the primary owners, Mr. Gleeson also leads strategic planning initiatives and recruitment.  Internet Marketing Inc. is currently one of the fastest growing integrated online marketing agencies in the country and is headquartered in San Diego, CA. with offices in Las Vegas, NV and Miami, FL.

Mr. Gleason earned his undergraduate degree in Finance and Economics from Southern Methodist University, studied at Oxford University in England, and earned master degree in real estate finance and development from the University of San Diego.

Brent is also an accomplished public speaker with topics ranging from entrepreneurship and team building to integrated online marketing strategies for growing businesses.

You can follow him on Twitter at @BrentGleeson.

A New Method of Resupplying ~ Putting “I intend to…” into Action

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Another excerpt fromTurn The Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level, By L. David Marquet, Captain, U.S. Navy (retired), published by Greenleaf Book Group LLC, released today, August 1, 2012:

For context, read the post, “I intend to…,” before reading this excerpt.

Chapter 28

“A New Method of Resupplying”

A submarine at dawnSanta Fe was operating in the Strait of Hormuz and we were running low on oil.  I was “thinking out loud” (one of our mechanisms) with the Engineer in the control room when a solution came from an unexpected place: the newest officer on board.  After listening to a discussion about our need for more oil, Ensign Aviles chimed in. He was manning the periscope and was looking at the contacts around us.  “Hey, that’s a fast-resupply ship. Why don’t we just ask them for some oil?”  I looked at the periscope display and, sure enough, the USS Rainier is transiting through the Strait of Hormuz several miles away.  The Rainier was a supply ship designed to support a carrier battle group.  She carried 2 million gallons of diesel fuel, 2 million gallons of jet fuel, and tons of ammunition and supplies.  All we needed was a few cans of oil. Surely Rainier would have that.

There was a problem.  All ship movements in the carrier battle group were pre-directed 36 hours in advance.  One just didn’t “call up” and get supplied.  But I was curious.  I waved the flashlight around.  “Go ahead, guys, see if you can set it up.”

“I intend to break radio silence to coordinate a resupply from Rainier,” said the Officer on Deck (OOD).

“Very well.”

USS RAINIER (AOE-7).jpgThe OOD called Rainier on the radio, identified who we were, and what we needed.  Sure enough, they would supply us!  Fortunately, Captain Kendall Card, commander of the Rainier, had reinforced with his crew that they were there to support the ships of the U.S. Navy, and that trumped bureaucracy.  I’d never heard of such a thing.  Not only that but the CO invited us to send over any crew members who needed medical or dental checkups beyond what Santa Fe’s Doc Hill could provide.

Rainier had a schedule to maintain; we couldn’t delay long.  If we didn’t get surfaced in a few minutes, it wouldn’t be able to stay around to help us.

The crew sprung to action, to which I gave my immediate assent.

From the Officer of the Deck: “Captain, I intend to prepare to surface.”

Very well.

From the Chief of the Boat (COB): “I intend to muster the small boat handling party in the crew’s mess.  I intend to open the forward escape trunk lower hatch.  COB is Chief in Charge.”

Very well.

From Doc Hill: “I intend to muster selected personnel for dental checkups in the crew’s mess, conducting watch reliefs as necessary.”

Very well.

From the admin officer, Petty Officer Scott Dillon: “Captain, I intend to canvass the crew for outgoing mail and transfer it to Rainier.”

Very well.

From the supply officer: “Captain, I intend to transfer the hydraulic oil from Rainier.”

Very well.

Myriad various activities happened quickly and in a synchronized manner.  Here’s where the training paid off.  There’s no way I would have been able to pull off a plan for conducting this kind of operation and direct it piece by piece.  You could call it speed of response, or reducing the sense-act delay inherent in organizations, or adaptability to change.  Whatever you call it, the crew’s performance allowed us to resupply at sea and continue being a submarine in defense of the country rather than limping into port for a fill up.

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.

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If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, please visit:

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Related Articles –

“I Intend To” – More Than a Recommendation (championsclubcommunity.com)

How We Made Leader to Leader Work on Santa Fe – By David Adams (leader-leader.com/blog)

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment

Turn The Ship Around! A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level

Up Scope!

Teach Your People to “Think Out Loud” to Enable Them to Maintain Control

In Memory of Dr. Stephen R. Covey (1932 – 2012)

“I intend to . . .”

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“I intend to . . .”

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Over the last few months, I have been writing posts featuring David Marquet and his new book, Turn The Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level.”  The reason for this is simple: I am fascinated with David and what he was able to accomplish as the Commanding Officer of the USS Santa Fe.  If you have not read the posts about David Marquet, I encourage you to read them first, before continuing to read this post, as it will provide you some background.  Then, come back to continue reading this post:

I was introduced to David in February of this year, through this blog and other social media, and I became acquainted with his leader-leader (leader to leader) philosophy.  He became a fan of my blog, and I became a fan of him and his blog.  David was gracious to share with his blog’s audience posts from this blog.  David even invited me to write a book review for his book reviews section of his blog, such as the post, “How Would the Marines Run Your Business.”  Over time, David and I have become allies and friends.

This blog, Command Performance Leadership, is about the synergies between military and corporate leadership, and there is no better example of those synergies than David and his leadership philosophy of empowerment and developing leaders at every level.  What he has accomplished throughout his career,  and since his retirement from the United States Navy, is the perfect story for this blog.  David’s message is one that absolutely deserves to be told.

Today, David’s book is officially released, and “Turn The Ship Around!” will be deployed for an important mission: to enlighten leaders, those who aspire to lead, and those formerly known as followers (the people who are leaders without a title).  The book discusses empowerment and how to create leaders at all levels.  I wanted to use this occasion to celebrate this book’s release, and to share a few of the ideas and mechanisms that come right out of the pages of David’s book.  Below, I have ripped a few those pages out of the book for you to read.  I hope that David’s message resonates with you, and that you can use a few of his ideas in your workplace to empower your people, and to create leaders, not followers.

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Chapter 11

“I intend to . . .”

How proactive are senior managers and employees in your organization? Rewording our speech dramatically changed our level of proactivity.

21 January 1999, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (159 days to deployment)

“Conn, maneuvering, reactor scram!” The reactor had just shut down. The engineer inserted the shutdown deliberately, testing his department’s ability to find and repair a simulated fault.

The Officer of the Deck was my senior department head, Lieutenant Commander Bill Greene, and he was doing all the right things. We had shifted propulsion from the main engines to an auxiliary electric motor, the EPM, to turn the propeller. The EPM can only power the ship at low-speed and draws down the battery.

The ship was coming shallow in order to use its diesel engine to provide electrical power and keep the battery charged until the reactor was restarted. During the long troubleshooting period while the nuclear electronics technicians were isolating the fault, I started to get bored. I fiddled with my flashlight, turning it on and off. Things were going too smoothly. I couldn’t let the crew think their new captain was easy!

I nudged Bill and suggested we increase speed from “ahead 1/3” to “ahead 2/3” on the EPM to give the nuclear-trained enlisted men a sense of urgency. This would significantly increase the rate of battery discharge and put pressure on the trouble shooters to find and correct the fault quickly. At “ahead 2/3,” there is a near continuous click-click-click on the battery amp-hour meter. An audible reminder that time is running out, it’s physically unnerving!

“Ahead 2/3,” he ordered.

Nothing happened.

The helmsman should have reached over and rung up ahead 2/3. Instead, I could see him squirming in his chair. No one said anything and several awkward seconds passed. Astutely noting that the order hadn’t been carried out, I asked the helmsman what was going on. He was facing his panel but reported over his shoulder, “Captain, there is no ahead 2/3 on the EPM!”

I had made a mistake. I’d been shifted to command Santa Fe at the last-minute and unlike every other submarine I’d been on, there was only a 1/3 on the EPM.

I applauded the helmsman and grabbed Bill, the OOD. In the corner of the control room, I asked him if he knew there was no ahead 2/3 on the EPM.

“Yes, Captain, I did.”

“Well, why did you order it?” I asked, astounded.

“Because you told me to.”

He was being perfectly honest. By giving that order, I took the crew right back to the top-down command and control leadership model. That my most senior, experienced OOD would repeat it was a giant wake-up call about the perils of that model for something as complicated as a submarine. What happens when the leader is wrong in a top-down culture? Everyone goes over the cliff. I vowed henceforth never to give an order, any order. Instead, subordinates would say “I intend to….”

Mechanism: Use “I intend to . . .” to turn passive followers into active leaders

Although it may seem like a minor trick of language, we found “I intend to…” profoundly shifted ownership of the plan to the officers.

“I intend to . . .” didn’t take long to catch on. The officers and crew loved it.

A year later, I was standing on the bridge of the Santa Fe with Dr. Stephen Covey. He’d heard what we were doing and was interested in riding a submarine. By this point, the crew had fully embraced our initiatives for control, and “I intend to . . .” was prominently visible. Throughout the day the officers approached me with “I intend to.”

“Captain, I intend to submerge the ship. We are in water we own, water depth has been checked and is 400 feet, all men are below, the ship is rigged for dive, and I’ve certified my watch team.”

I’d reply “Very well” and off we’d go.

Dr. Covey was keenly interested and incorporated this concept into his subsequent book, The 8th Habit.

The Power of Words


The key to your team becoming more proactive rests in the language subordinates and superiors use.

Here is a short list of “disempowered phrases” that passive followers use:

Request permission to . . .

I would like to . . .

What should I do about . . .

Do you think we should . . .

Could we . . .

Here is a short list of “empowered phrases” that active doers use:

I intend to . . .

I plan on . . .

I will . . .

We will . . .

Later, I heard from a friend of mine who had taught future submarine commanders how frustrated he was by the inability of too many officers to make decisions at the command level. He said that these officers “came from good ships” but would become paralyzed when it came to tough decision-making. I took issue with his categorizing them as “good ships.” By using that term, he meant ships that didn’t have problems—at least that we knew about. But this had obviously been accomplished using a top-down, leader-follower structure where the captain made the decisions. Had those officers practiced “I intend to…” when they were second-in-command, they would have been practiced in decision-making.

This shows the degree to which we reward personality-centered leadership structures and accept the limitations. These may have been good ships, in that they avoided problems, but it certainly was not good leadership.

Questions to Consider

What causes us to take control when we should be giving control?

Can you recall a recent incident where your subordinate followed your order because he or she thought you had learned secret information “for executives only”?

What would be the most challenging obstacle to implementing “I intend to . . .” in your place of business?

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.

Another source for this excerpt can be found HERE

– If you enjoyed this excerpt, you can read another one.  I posted “A New Method of Resupplying ~ Putting “I intend to…” Into Action” today.

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If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, please visit:

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Related Articles –

“I Intend To” – More Than a Recommendation (championsclubcommunity.com)

How We Made Leader to Leader Work on Santa Fe – By David Adams (leader-leader.com/blog)

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Pithy Points to Ponder (How Do You Motivate Your Employees?)

Posted in Leadership, Motivation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

A few weeks ago, in the LinkedIn group Innovative Leadership & Change Management Expert Innovators NetworkBrandon W. Jones started a discussion entitled, How Do You Motivate Your Employees?.  Brandon had previously posted an article by the same name on his blog, and was using the LinkedIn group to get a variety of opinions.  Brandon attracted quite a few people, including me, to express their thoughts on the topic of motivation.  I commented on this discussion post in the LinkedIn group, and I wanted to share my pithy point to ponder about motivation with you in this post; to get your opinions and thoughts.

At the end of this post is an absolute goldmine of articles and resources about motivation.  I encourage you to dive into this information, especially if you are interested in further study and research on the subject of employee motivation.  Also, I want to hear what you have to say about motivation and motivating people.  What has worked for you?  Please share your comments in the section provided, at the end of this post.

This post begins a series on the topic of motivation in both the military and corporate environments.

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My Pithy Point to Ponder

Leaders cannot motivate.  Leaders can only provide the positive environment to enable one to be motivated.  Motivation is an internal function of each person.  One can only motivate themselves, given the right circumstances and situation within their environment.  One can only be motivated to do something if they themselves want to do what needs to be done.  Fear, intimidation, and even incentives may not be enough. Internal stress and pressure, or on a positive scale, self-fulfillment, emotional satisfaction and success will be the stimulants and drivers to one’s motivation.

Dale Richard Wilson, Sr.

Blogger @ Command Performance Leadership

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Motivation

In my research for this post, I came across a great article on this topic entitled, “How to motivate employees: What managers need to know,” in Psychology Today.  I think it pins this subject down very well:

How many management articles, books, speeches and workshops have pleaded plaintively, “How do I get employees to do what I want?”  Motivating people to do their best work, consistently, has been an enduring challenge for executives and managers. Even understanding what constitutes human motivation has been a centuries old puzzle, addressed as far back as Aristotle…

…The things that make people satisfied and motivated on the job are different in kind from the things that make them dissatisfied. Ask workers what makes them unhappy at work, and you’ll hear them talk about insufficient pay or an uncomfortable work environment, or “stupid” regulations and policies that are restraining or the lack of job flexibility and freedom. So environmental factors can be demotivating…

…It turns out that people are motivated by interesting work, challenge, and increasing responsibility–intrinsic factors. People have a deep-seated need for growth and achievement…the focus on motivation remained the “carrot-and-stick” approach, or external motivators…

…What do we mean by motivation? It’s been defined as a predisposition to behave in a purposeful manner to achieve specific, unmet needs and the will to achieve, and the inner force that drives individuals to accomplish personal and organizational goals. And why do we need motivated employees? The answer is survival…

John Baldoni, author of “Great Motivation Secrets of Great Leaders,” concluded that motivation comes from wanting to do something of one’s own free will, and that motivation is simply leadership behavior–wanting to do what is right for people and the organization…

…In the July, 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review, authors Nitin Nohria, Boris Groysberg and Linda-Eling Lee describe a new model of employee motivation. They outline the four fundamental emotional drives that underlie motivation:

1)      The drive to acquire (the acquisition of scarce material things, including financial compensation, to feel better)

2)      the drive to bond (developing strong bonds of love, caring and belonging)

3)      the drive to comprehend (to make sense of our world so we can take the right actions)

4)      the drive to defend (defending our property, ourselves and our accomplishments)…

…In his…book, “Drive,” Daniel Pink, author of “A Whole New Mind,” describes what he says is “the surprising truth” about what motivates us. Pink says that true motivation boils down to three elements: Autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives; mastery, the desire to continually improve at something that matters to us, and purpose, the desire to do things in service of something larger than ourselves. Pink…warns that the traditional “command-and-control” management methods in which organizations use money as a contingent reward for a task, are not only ineffective as motivators, but actually harmful… (see also “Dan Pink: The surprising science of motivation,” a TED Talks presentation)

…Joseph Le Doux, in his book, “Human Emotions: A Reader,” describes new recent brain research that has shown that emotions are the driver for decision-making, which includes aspects of motivation…

*Source – “How to Motivate Employees — What Managers Need to Know” – Published on February 13, 2010 by Ray Williams in Wired for Success – Accessed 30 July 2012 – Psychology Today – http://www.psychologytoday.com/

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Another brief and accurate summary about motivation:

“Different people are motivated by different things. I may be greatly motivated by earning time away from my job to spend more time my family. You might be motivated much more by recognition of a job well done. People are not motivated by the same things. Again, a key goal is to understand what motivates each of your employees.”

Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, from the answer to myth #4 inClearing Up Common Myths About Employee Motivation

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Since Brandon ignited this discussion, inspiring me to write this post, I wanted to provide Brandon full attribution by listing his various online resources and social media outlets:

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/brandonwjones

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrandonWJones1

Blog: http://brandonwjones.me/ and “Leadership Done Right” at http://leadershipdoneright.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeadershipDoneRight

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/brandonwjones2

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/brandonwjones/

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Related Articles –

**HIGHLY RECOMMENDED** Motivating Employees (wsj.com)

**HIGHLY RECOMMENDED** Helping People to Motivate Themselves and Others (managementhelp.org) – From the Free Management Library, you can absolutely get lost in this website with the articles and resources available on the topic of motivation.  I encourage and challenge you to do just that.

Motivating Employees (inc.com) – Great collection of articles about motivation and motivating employees.

Motivation and Retention (entrepreneur.com) – Another good collection of articles about motivation (and retention).

Employee Motivation, Morale, Recognition, Rewards, Retention (humanresources.about.com) – An endless list of links to articles and resources from the Human Resources site on About.com.

Motivating Your Staff in a Time of Change – Want to Know What’s Most Important About Motivating Employees? (humanresources.about.com)

5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Motivated Without Breaking the Bank (forbes.com)

7 Tips for Motivating Employees (inc.com)

The Open Secret To Motivating Employees

20 Ways to Motivate Your Employees Without Raising Their Pay (biztrain.com)

Why Motivation Works … And When (kumardeepak.wordpress.com)

What’s Behind Human Motivation? Leadership Book Review: Meet Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Breuning (davidmarquet.com)

Thursday’s reads: how to motivate people (has links to four articles on motivation) (davidmarquet.com)

How Do You Motivate in a Community Organization? (davidmarquet.com)

Posts from the ‘Motivation’ Category – Page 1 & Page 2 of Steve Keating’s LeadToday blog

16 Ways to Motivate Employees and to Celebrate Their Successes (majorium.wordpress.com)

Leaders: It’s Not All About the Money (linked2leadership.com)

How Much Money Would It Take To Be Unhappy? (managebetternow.com)

Improvise, Adapt and Overcome ~ Changing Plans, But Not Changing Vision

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

*The following was inspired by a post by the late Timothy F. Bednarz on his blog, Leaders to Leader, entitled, “Plans Must Be Rooted in Past Performance.”

Footnote (in advance of reading this post):  In the context of this article, when I speak of a ‘leader,’ I am referring to a leader at all levels; not necessarily the commander, CEO or department head.  Empowered followers are the key to implementing and accomplishing plans at all levels of the organization.

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Plan for Victory ~ Expect to Win

A vision or goal (short-term / long-term) is where the organization sees itself in the future.  It is a desired result that an organization plans and commits to achieve.  To move towards these results requires planning and goal-setting.  These time-targeted plans should be specific, measurable, realistic and attainable to achieve each objective along the path towards the vision.  The anticipated results guide reactions, according to various successes and failures, as the organization maneuvers towards the objective (vision).  From these plans, a leader must ensure that participants have a clear awareness of what they must do to achieve an objective.

In the military, they call this the Commander’s Intent; the stated description of the end-state as it relates to forces (entities, people), the purpose of the operation, and key tasks to accomplish the mission.  This blog will discuss, more specifically, Commander’s Intent, and mission planning & accomplishment, After Action Reviews (AAR’s), etc., another time.  But, the blog, PurpelINK, defines and discusses Commander’s Intent very well:

A soldier’s every move is predicated upon hours of forethought and planning. After the commander-in-chief approves the order of battle, a soldier will find his personal orders specifying the scheme of maneuver and field of fire. Each battalion is told what to do, what materiel to use, and how to set up supply lines to replace its munitions.

There’s only one problem: no plan survives contact with the enemy because the enemy always gets a vote. Consider the variables; [a weather change], a key military asset is destroyed after it is deployed [etc]. In short, the enemy is unpredictable.

The beautiful thing about knowing the [Commander’s Intent] is that it means your plans are never rendered obsolete by the unpredictable. You may lose the ability to execute the plan (involving the timing of men and materiel), but you never lose the responsibility of executing the Commander’s Intent.

[Commander’s Intent] manages to align the behavior of soldiers at all levels of the army without requiring detailed instructions from the High Command. If you know the intention of the order, you are free to improvise to arrive at its fulfillment. If people know the intent, they can engineer their own solutions to accomplishing the task.

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An organization’s history of past accomplishments (or failures), and the acquisition of desired (or poor) results, obviously influences the plans and strategies of the future.  When we are successful, we build on the plans that made us successful in the achievement of certain goals and objectives.  But when we fail, we tend to throw away those plans.  Sometimes we even adjust our overall objective; subtly, or sometimes dramatically.  But, changing our vision and our ultimate goal is the wrong thing to do if you intend to grow, improve and become successful and victorious.

For example, an Army might put their efforts into creating plans that become useless once the enemy is engaged.  Companies do the same thing when they implement initiatives and strategies that are poorly planned out or executed.  But, one should be reluctant to throw aside entire plans because of those failures, or by falling short of mission.  On the contrary, using lessons learned, one should assess the capabilities of their resources (people, material, finances, etc.) that contributed to those results, correct the weaknesses and gaps in performance, and then adjust the plan, re-allocating and reassigning resources to be better utilized for future actions and plans.  Maybe the people, or the team, responsible for certain results were not afforded all of the tools necessary to succeed.  Or, the people were not properly appointed the right tasks to drive towards the desired results; individuals weren’t assigned tasks according to their talents.

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Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

The United States Marine Corps calls it, “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome.”  The Marine Corps has been successful employing this concept mostly because of the creativity of its people and their success-based attitude.  During the chaos of battle and the implementation of plans according to the Commander’s Intent, they must find what works, or people die, equipment is lost, and the battle is lost.  For the Marine Corps, the whole notion of improvise, adapt and overcome becomes second nature.  For companies and organizations, what worked last year does not work this year, and what works now is a radical departure from what worked last year.  They must improvise, adapt and overcome.

My point is that past results should never change your vision.  Yes, you should plan according to past lessons learned.  But, a good leader will never hesitate as a result of, or be intimidated by, past failure.  And, a good leader will never change their vision for the future as a result of those failures.  The future vision or goal must remain the same, never changing because of the past.  One must have the courage to change according to those failures, yet not change their mindset because of those failures. The past can tell you a lot.  But don’t let it tell you to reverse course.

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A good leader will:

  • Align the capabilities of people and resources based on the past, not in spite of it.  They will match the people to the tasks according to skill level and proficiency
  • Manage and monitor time to efficiently and effectively achieve the planned mission
  • Adjust milestones & short-term goal targets, and determine the feasibility of certain objectives
  • Frequently assess, reconsider and change according to the circumstances they are facing
  • Improvise according to the availability and reliability material (supplies, equipment, etc.)
  • Acquire and/or properly allocate the tools needed to achieve short and long-term results
  • Teach, and at the same time learn, the knowledge necessary to improve and succeed, sometimes based on the conditions at the time; gaining feedback, recommendations and reviewing solutions, etc.
  • Implement the plan by breaking it down from a big job into little jobs, and delegate those jobs accordingly

Finally, throughout any situation that requires action and/or change, it is important for any leader to remain optimistic, to be proactive and to cultivate passion.

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Here are my recommendations for making plans based on past performance:

1) Set tasking according to capabilities

2) Your vision (Commander’s Intent) should never change, but your plans must

3) Don’t let short-term setbacks blur your long-term vision

4) ‘Change’ is the only thing that remains the same throughout an organization

5) You might miss your target, but as long as you’ve adjusted and improved your tactics (based on Improvise, Adapt and Overcome), you’re making progress.

6) Remain motivated.  Failure is a hard thing to deal with, but the taste of success (victory) is sweet.

7) Never give up.  You may have failed to reach your target, but as long as you have learned from your mistakes and have acknowledged the lessons learned, you’re making progress and one step closer to victory!

*Inspired by a post on Timothy F. Bednarz‘s blog, Leaders to Leader, entitled, “Plans Must Be Rooted in Past Performance.”

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Sources –

“Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” – Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 – http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/improvise-adapt-overcome/52001 – Accessed 23 July 2012 – Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity – http://peakprosperity.com/

“Commander’s Intent” – Posted Friday, August 1, 2008 – http://washelby.blogspot.com/2008/08/commanders-intent.html – Accessed 23 July 2012 – PurpelINK – http://washelby.blogspot.com/

“Goal” – Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – Last Modified on 21 July 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goal – Accessed 23 July 2012 – Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/

“Commander’s Intent” – Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – Last Modified on 24 March 2012 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intent_(military)#Commander.E2.80.99s_Intent – via “Intent (Military)”  at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intent_(military) – Accessed 23 July 2012 – WikiPedia (The Free Encyclopedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/

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Related Articles –

Teach Your People to “Think Out Loud” to Enable Them to Maintain Control

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Here is yet another sneak peak inside the book, “Turn The Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, By L. David Marquet, Captain, U.S. Navy (retired), to be published by Greenleaf Book Group LLC on August 1, 2012:

USS Santa Fe riding on the surface

I was standing on top of the bridge in a harness. The tactical inspection was essentially over and we were returning to port. Lieutenant Dave Adams was [Officer of the Deck] OOD, driving Santa Fe up the channel into Pearl Harbor. He chatted with the bridge phone talker and lookouts. Everyone, it seemed, was in a buoyant mood except me. We had followed the attack on the submarine with a successful attack on an enemy surface ship. We sunk two “enemy” vessels, shooting two for two, and hadn’t been counter-detected. We had operated Santa Fe safely and effectively. We’d done well.

Still, I was thinking about how the inspection had gone in more critical terms and how much I’d had to drive solutions to problems.

“Bridge, navigator. Mark the turn.” I overheard Lieutenant Commander Bill Greene’s voice on the bridge loudspeaker. The navigation team in the control room was using bearings from the periscope and GPS to determine whereSanta Fe was in the channel and when we needed to turn.

“Nav, bridge, aye,” Dave acknowledged, holding the microphone to his mouth, but he didn’t order the turn. I waited a second.

“Weps, are you going to turn?” I asked directly. In the narrow channel, every second counted. I glanced sideways at the familiar day markers and palm trees and knew we were at the point where we needed to turn.

“Yes, 3 seconds. I thought they were early.” He seemed miffed I had prodded him.

“Helm, right 15 degrees rudder.” Santa Fe started a slow turn to the right, lining up with the next leg of the channel. It worked out just fine.

But I could see Dave had lost initiative, lost confidence, and lost control. He was no longer driving the submarine, I was. His job satisfaction just took a big hit.

Mechanism: Thinking Out Loud

As naval officers, we stress formal communications and even have a book, the Interior Communications Manual, that specifies exactly how equipment, watch stations, and evolutions are spoken, written, and abbreviated. By consistently using these terms, we avoid confusion. For example, we shut valves, we don’t close them, because close could be confused with blow. We prepare to snorkel, but then we report being ready—not prepared—to snorkel,

This adherence to formal communications unfortunately crowds out the less formal but highly important contextual information needed for peak team performance. Words like “I think . . .” or “I am assuming . . .” or “It is likely . . .” that are not specific and concise orders get written up by inspection teams as examples of informal communications, a big no-no. But that is just the communication we need to make leader-leader work.

We also discussed what had happened on the bridge as we approached Pearl Harbor. Here’s what I wish Dave had been saying: “Captain, the navigator has been marking the turns early. I am planning on waiting 5 seconds then ordering the turn.” or “I’m seeing the current running past this buoy pretty strongly and I’m going to turn early because of it.” Now the captain can let the scene play out. The OOD retains control of his job, his initiative; he learns more and becomes a more effective officer. He’s driving the submarine! He loves his job and stays in the navy.

We called this “thinking out loud.”

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.

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  • What do you think of the newest sneak peak of “Turn the Ship Around!”?
  • Have any examples of where “thinking out loud” has or could have helped maintain control and drive empowered decision-making in your organization?

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If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level”, please visit THIS link at Barnes & Noble (BN.com).

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Related Articles –

How We Made Leader to Leader Work on Santa Fe – By David Adams (leader-leader.com/blog)

Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Up Scope! (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment) (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Empowerment (Not Just Another Buzzword)

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Ronald Reagan once said, “The greatest leader is not the one who does the greatest things.  The greatest leader is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things.”[i]  He also said, “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority and don’t interfere…”[ii]

I wanted to use this post to discuss The process of empowerment, the guiding principles of workplace empowerment and empowerment in management.  Empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices, and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes.[iii]  In today’s workplace, people quite often endure the absence of empowerment and carry on like robots doing as they are told.  Empowerment unleashes an individual’s potential and enhances [their] ability to promote creativity and productivity in the organization.[iv]  Some might call empowerment a buzzword.  But, empowerment is being increasingly embraced by more and more managers and leaders in both the military and the corporate World.  And, quite honestly, people are hungry for empowerment.

Decision-making in many organizations and corporations is currently too top-heavy.  Decisions need to be pushed down to the lowest level possible.  But, in some instances, managers and executives are afraid to relinquish some of their authority.  They feel that doing so would be too risky, fearing that they would have less power, diminished control or might lose their job.  But, the true risk is to not embrace some form of an empowerment process.

Empowering others is essentially the process of turning followers into leaders.  Through empowerment, there are fewer levels of decision-making.   As a result, there are reduced levels of bureaucracy, and organizational pyramids are flattened.  Managers trust employees to make decisions, and the staff trust managers and feel supported in their decisions.  In some instances, procedures and guidelines are generated by the people who perform the work every day.  Through empowerment, good ideas and decisions are implemented faster.  Ultimately, empowerment creates confident and competent employees who are more productive because they are not waiting for approval to make decisions.

PattonGeneral George S. Patton saw empowerment this way:

“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.[v]

But, empowerment is not something you just simply turn on like a light switch among your staff.  You don’t show up one day and say, “you, the people, are now empowered!”  For all involved (leaders, managers, employees, etc.), it is a process of education, knowledge and experience, where the staff is provided the criterion which directs them in making decisions in their respective jobs, areas of expertise and departments.  If the staff has the basic guidelines, they should be able to make educated and informed decisions without having to go to the next level.  As a result, the customer is served, or the mission is accomplished, more quickly and effectively, and managers are freed to make decisions that really require their level of expertise.

It is in this way that all staff has the information they need to be truly empowered to collaborate effectively.  A process is developed to continue the culture change so that there is true empowerment for informed decision-making.  Through this empowerment process, a new organizational culture is established; a culture where management encourages teamwork and risk taking, and employees can establish teams where they see the need.  From this teamwork, creativity and initiative are fostered.

As leaders, we should strive to cultivate leadership not only in ourselves, but in those we are responsible to lead.  As leaders, we shouldn’t think that we have all of the answers.  As leaders, we don’t know everything.  As leaders, we should be surrounding ourselves with capable, knowledgeable people who can take much of the decision-making burden off our shoulders; where employees own their work and are more accountable for outcomes.

As a result of employee empowerment:

  1. Micro-management is virtually eliminated
  2. Productivity in the workplace increases
  3. Creativity and innovation within the organization is cultivated
  4. Employee morale is improved, and there is greater job satisfaction
  5. The leader – follower (management – employee) relationship is strengthened
  6. There becomes an environment where future leaders are developed and nurtured for the future.

When people are empowered with the knowledge and tools to be successful doing their jobs, their confidence breaks down the intimidation of any task, and they are energized to do their jobs well.  When people know that the leash is off their neck, and their boss is not breathing down their neck, they become some of the strongest and happiest people.  Empowerment is about making sure that people are well-trained, they have the tools to do the job, and are given the autonomy to take risks and to think outside the box.  A truly empowered team can do great things, and as leaders we need to stand back and let them succeed.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

Footnotes –

[i] Interview with Mike Wallace, 60 Minutes, December 14, 1975

[ii] Ronald Reagan, September 15, 1986, in an interview with “Fortune” magazine, describing his management style – Cover Story: Reagan on Decision-Making, Planning, Gorbachev, and More

[iii] Empowerment – PovertyNet – http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTPOVERTY/EXTEMPOWERMENT/0,,menuPK:486417~pagePK:149018~piPK:149093~theSitePK:486411,00.html – Accessed 2 May 2012 – The World Bank – http://web.worldbank.org/

[iv] Hungry for Empowerment – Posted May 4, 2012 – http://sidtuli.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/hungry-for-empowerment/ – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Sidtuli blog on WordPress – http://sidtuli.wordpress.com/

[v] Axelrod, Alan. Patton on Leadership: Strategic Lessons for Corporate Warfare. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. Page 165. Also, War As I Knew It (1947) by George S. Patton, “Reflections and Suggestions”

*Portions of this blog post were adapted from a presentation entitled, “Empowerment & Decision-Making – Building a Framework for the Future.”  This presentation can be found at the link http://www.maine.gov/labor/bendthecurve/minutes/empowerment.pdf, through the State of Maine’s Department of Labor website (http://www.maine.gov/labor/), and their Bend the Curve initiative.

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Related Articles and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Reading –

Hungry for Empowerment (sidtuli.wordpress.com)

6 Steps to Sustainable Leadership: Feedback Mechanisms (linked2leadership.com)

8 Ways to Find Freedom (leadershipfreak.wordpress.com)

10 Strategies for Building Confidence in Others (leadershipfreak.wordpress.com)

Believe in Empowerment? Then Just Do It! (km4meu.wordpress.com)

Delegation and Empowerment (prmarketingcommunication.com)

Enlightened Empowerment (myraqa.com/blog)

The Benefits of Employee Empowerment (cutimes.com)

Cover Story: Reagan on Decision-Making, Planning, Gorbachev, and More (money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune)

Need Some Advice? (managebetternow.com)

Creating A Culture Of Civility (managebetternow.com)

Dropping Keys? (m100group.wordpress.com)

Surround Yourself with High Quality Employees (cambridgeprofessionals.com)

Up Scope!

Posted in Leadership, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Here’s a sneak peak inside the book, “Turn The Ship Around!”, taking you inside the real-time leadership decisions made during a submarine war game in the waters around Hawaii:

Does your senior management team wait for your orders before they act, or have they learned to think for themselves?

27 January 1999—Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; 153 days to deployment

The chart table on a submarine gets to be a crowded spot. Dave Adams, Bill Greene, and the XO were crowded around the chart table with me.

Where was the enemy going? I scanned the chart and it came to me. I saw that they were likely heading for some congested waters near Maui.

“Here, we need to be here at 0600.” I tapped the chart with the butt end of the flashlight at a spot in the Maui basin. If the enemy were indeed heading toward those congested waters, this location, upslope from them, looking into the deeper, quieter water, would be the spot from which we would launch our attack.

It was midnight. I was exhausted and needed a couple hours of sleep. We’d gone into Pearl Harbor and picked up Commodore Kenny and his inspection team. The ship was doing well, but I felt I needed to be too many places at once. For this, the overnight supervisors would have to drive Santa Fe into position: accounting for the movements of the enemy, the interfering maritime traffic, the wind and sea conditions, and a number of other factors.

I looked around. Heads nodded. Any questions? There were none. “Okay, call me if anything comes up that interferes with this plan or may make us want to reconsider it.”

A more enlightened approach would have been to engage in a discussion about why I came up with the position and what assumptions were key to making that position work. That’s what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t have the energy anymore. All day, every day, it seemed like that’s all I did. It was tiresome. I tried to stay as quiet as possible and let the officers run things with “I intend to . . .” but top-down was ingrained in how we operated.

28 January 1999—On board Santa Fe (152 days to deployment)

USS Santa Fe Sailors Pilot Submarine While Transiting Pacific OceanWhen I got up at 0500, I was dismayed to find out that we were several miles out of position. Not only that, we were headed in the wrong direction, away from the enemy! Now the enemy was likely to be upslope of us! It would take several hours to reverse the situation, which was a tactical blunder that would result in a down check during an inspection but could spell death during combat. The watch team had allowed a series of short-term contacts and navigational issues to drive them rather than driving the ship to an optimal tactical position. We were still letting things happen to us rather than proactively making things happen.

Commodore Kenny was in the control room, observing our team’s interactions. I was exasperated but kept my cool. I realized the failure was mine. We weren’t going to be able to go from top-down management to bottom-up leadership overnight.

My immediate reaction was to think that I needed to manage everything more carefully—“I should have checked at 0300”—but this would have put me back into the exact same situation I was in on board the Will Rogers. There needed to be a way out of this. Upon reflection, I decided that giving specific direction, as in my statement “We need to be here at 0600,” without the underlying thought processes just didn’t work in the complex and unpredictable world we were in. There were no shortcuts. As the level of control is divested, it becomes more and more important that the team be aligned with the goal of the organization. At this point, although I’d talked about accomplishing our mission (a positive goal), the team was still in the old mind-set of avoiding problems (in this case, avoiding contacts to ensure counter-detection and minimize risk of collision). When it came to prosecuting the enemy, a correct assessment of risk versus gain would have been more focused on driving the submarine to an optimal tactical position rather than avoiding contacts.

For the next several hours, we worked our way toward a better tactical position. We’d be making good progress, then have to turn back to avoid a fishing boat and lose ground. Santa Fe was operating at periscope depth in shallow water, so each turn took several minutes. It was slow going.

“Up scope.” The OOD rolled the ring, and the hydraulics began lifting the periscope the 18 feet to its fully raised position.

Santa Fe was just beneath the surface of the water. Even with the scope raised, a short pole of only about 2 feet would be visible above the surface. Still, the surface was quite smooth today and even at our slow speed our periscope could be visible. We’d raise the periscope for just a few seconds, rapidly look around, and lower it again.

We were in the final stages of a cat-and-mouse game with the enemy diesel submarine. The simulated war had escalated to the point where Santa Fe was authorized to sink it.

The enemy had picked this area deliberately. The shallow uneven bottom reduced the effectiveness of the torpedo, and to ensure a hit we would need a precise idea of the enemy’s location. The best way to do this would be to actually see it, which is why we were at periscope depth, looking for the enemy sub visually. To accomplish this, we had packed more than twenty men into the control room, a space roughly half the area of a typical Starbucks.

We carried the Mk 48 ADCAP (for advanced capability) torpedo. It is a devastating weapon against both surface ships and submarines. We launch the torpedo to intercept the target like a hunter leads a duck. In addition, the torpedo has its own sonar system, looking for the target for a precise intercept. Not only that, but the torpedo streams a wire behind it that stays connected to the submarine. This way we could see what the torpedo was seeing and redirect the torpedo, sending steering orders down the wire, if necessary.

“Target!” Amid the buoys and haze, and against the Hawaiian Islands as a backdrop, the OOD saw the enemy’s periscope and immediately lowered ours. If we could see him, he could see us.

“Captain, recommend firing point procedures!” Dave Adams was pushing me to order the attack and I liked that. As weapons officer, he knew we had all the pieces together for a successful shot: weapons loaded and ready in the tubes, an accurate bead on the target, and authorization to engage. Waiting for more precise information would only give the enemy more time to detect us.

“Very well, weps.” I wanted to acknowledge his initiative.

I ordered the attack. “Firing point procedures, submarine. Tube 1 primary, tube 2 backup.”

I wiped the sweat off my brow.

The standard litany followed that order, as principal assistants reported readiness to launch. The next words I heard, however, were not part of that litany.

“Request to raise the BRA-34 to copy the broadcast.”

What? Raise the radio antenna?

We were at the end of our 12-hour broadcast cycle. It was time to get our messages. We’d avoided raising this antenna because it sticks out of the water higher than the periscope and would need to remain up for several minutes, making detection of Santa Fe likely.

I resisted the urge to throw a fit. I glanced at Commodore Kenny, who was standing to the side of the control room. He was trying hard not to grin. Clearly, his radio inspector had been keeping him informed that we were approaching 12 hours on the broadcast and that the deadline to copy our message traffic would likely come right at the worst time.

Tempted as I was to bark orders at this moment, I looked at my shoes instead. “We’re not going to do that,” I muttered. “We have to find another solution.” Even if we lost the opportunity to attack right then, I needed to get everyone on board thinking….

*Reprinted with permission from “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level”, by L. David Marquet, 2012, Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin, Texas. Copyright © 2012 by Louis David Marquet.

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In August, Greenleaf Book Group LLC will publish “Turn The Ship Around!”

If you would like to order the book “Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level”, please visit THIS link at Barnes & Noble (BN.com).

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Related Articles –

Mechanism: Resist the urge to provide solutions (leader-leader.com/blog) [This is the mechanism associated with the story Up Scope!]

Turn The Ship Around!: A Captain’s Guide to Creating Leadership at Every Level (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment) (commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com)

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