Archive for organizational development

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:

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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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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)

Learning The Softer Side Of Leadership

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance
An article posted on FastCompany.com on Tuesday, March 13
 
“As a leader, you plan, strategize, and set priorities. Your primary responsibilities, however, are always to inspire, motivate, and empower others. As a leader, you rise above “me” to embrace “we.” 
 
 Learning the Softer Side of Leadership
 
By Gary Burnison | 03-13-2012
 
Leaders’ primary objective is to empower others to make decisions and take actions that are aligned with the organization’s vision, purpose, and strategy. These nuances are the softer side of leadership, beyond the technical skills that you have already mastered.
 

Leadership is the “eighth wonder of the world.” It is better seen and felt than defined and said. It’s easy to intellectualize, but elusive to actualize.

The world’s most impactful leaders in all arenas, from business to government, understand the paradox that although leadership starts with the leader, it’s never about the leader. This wisdom should be emulated and applied by everyone who aspires to leadership.

As the leader, you need to be hands on, but your primary objective is to empower others to make decisions and take actions that are aligned with the organization’s vision, purpose, and strategy. You’re “all in” in terms of commitment, but the spotlight is always on the results of the team. It’s not about you.

Continue reading “Learning the Softer Side of Leadership” via FastCompany.com

Status Quo vs. Organizational Change

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

“People naturally prefer to cling to established ways of doing things. Change is hard. Large organizations especially favor practices they have already mastered, even if those practices, fashioned decades before, are outdated…Yet the resistance to change remained…more often than not I heard from senior officials: ‘Don’t change anything. Everything is fine.’ “

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Source –
 
Rumsfeld, Donald. Known and Unknown: A Memoir. New York: Sentinel, 2011. Print. pp. 294-295.
 
 

How Would the Marines Run Your Business?

Posted in Books, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

A Book Review of “Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines”

Recently, I posted an article featuring David Marquet entitled Good to Great (A Submariner’s Profile in Empowerment).”  Thanks to the social media known as the Blogosphere here at WordPress, as well as my reach on LinkedIn, I was fortunate to make Mr. Marquet’s acquaintance online.  My blog post about David was originally supposed to be a Quote of the Day, featuring a quote that David Tweeted, and posted on LinkedIn.  As I began to write the post, I did some simple Google research.  I found out that David had a very impressive and successful Navy career, and that his leadership philosophy was certainly outside the box.  Quite simply, David’s philosophy is “Leadership isn’t about creating followers, it’s about creating leaders.”  My blog post featured David and his leadership philosophy, and I encourage you to read it.  And, also, please take notice of the post’s Related Articles and associated footnotes, at the end of the post, for additional content that I am certain you will find interesting.

David has taken great interest in my blog here at Command Performance Leadership, and he has graciously featured a few of my posts on his blog.  About a month ago, I received an email from David asking me if I wanted to write a book review for his website and blog.  I, of course, told him that I would be honored to write a book review for him and his website, and I accepted his offer.  With his approval, I decided to write the review on the book, “Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines,” by David H. Freedman.

Last week, I submitted my draft of the book review to David, and today he has posted it to his blog (see link below).  I wanted to share with you this book review by directing you to David’s blog, and not simply cut and paste the book review here on this post.  I think that David’s blog, and his associated web links and organization, should be viewed by this audience.  So, please take a few moments and surf around the following links:

How Would the Marines Run Your Business? – “Corps Business: The 30 Management Principles of the U.S. Marines”A Book Review by Guest Author Dale R. Wilson

 

Leader-Leader (The Movement) – Newsletter ~ March 2012 

Leader-Leader (The Movement)

Leader-Leader Blog

Leadeer-Leader Facebook Page

Practicum, Inc. – “Building Leaders at Every Level!”  David Marquet’s consulting company that features his leadership development programs.

David Marquet on LinkedIn

David Marquet on Twitter

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

Leadership Effects (A Guest Blog Post from the Front Lines)

Posted in Army Leadership, BookLink, Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

A Comment in Response to BookLink ~ The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual

The Command Performance Leadership blog has enjoyed some early success in its less than three months of existence, with weekly readership growing and the number of followers gradually increasing. Of those who have frequently visited my blog, I have been quite fortunate to attract many members of militaries from around the World, at different levels of leadership; non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) and commissioned officers. Having a military readership and followership is important to me, as I want military members to provide their input, through blog post comments, to gain from their knowledge and experience, and to add value to this blog. Who better to provide insight on military leadership fundamentals and wisdom than those who are leading in our military. As you’ve seen, a few comments from military members have influenced the discussions here, and have inspired new content and articles. I hope that continues.

A few weeks ago, I introduced BookLink, a feature that provides this blog’s readers the opportunity to have direct and complete access to military-oriented leadership books, pamphlets, field manuals, and other resources of information. The first book I am featuring is the U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual, which we began reading on January 16. For the four weeks that follow, sections of the book are being read and discussed in weekly blog posts.

Last Thursday, I received a comment about this Army field manual from David Hickman, a U.S. Army NCO. In his comment post, he shared a comprehensive story about leadership in the Army, in his opinion. I replied to David, and started a dialogue with him about his comment. He informed me that his comment was actually an article he was attempting to get in front of a few military magazines to take interest in. Unfortunately, no military periodical has taken interest in his article. David explained that the article was written in response to his Company Commander asking him and his fellow NCO’s to define leadership and what it meant to them. He thought that leadership deserved more discussion than just a ‘definition,’ and that leadership is nothing unless we act upon it. David informs me that this article is the framework for a book he is interested in writing.

I told David that his article deserves to be read, and I offered the article to be posted here at Command Performance Leadership as a guest post. He accepted my offer. I have made slight modifications to the original article to correct any grammar, spelling and punctuation, but have not altered its content or changed any words. I have also added some approprate and related pictures.

I want to thank David for his cooperation in sharing this article, and the journalistic support he has provided to me. I am pleased to introduce you to Staff Sergeant David A. Hickman and his book excerpt, “Leadership Effects.

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Author’s Biography –US Army E-6 Staff Sergeant (SSG)

Staff Sergeant (SSG) David A. Hickman is currently assigned as an instructor with Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment (IBOLC), 199th Infantry Brigade, Fort Benning Georgia. From the start of his tenure in the Army to present, SSG Hickman has served with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 25th Infantry Division, the 172nd SBCT Fort Wainwright, the US Army Recruiting Command, the 25 Infantry Division (L) Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and with the 7th Light Infantry Division (Cohort), Fort Ord, California prior to a break in military service. He deployed with the 1st SBCT, 25th Infantry Division to Baqubah, Iraq from 2008 to 2009, with the 172nd SBCT to Mosul, Iraq from 2005 to 2006 and Baghdad 2006, and the 25th Infantry Division (L) with the Multi-National Forces and Observers (MFO) to Sinai, Egypt in 2000. He has served as an Instructor, Platoon Sergeant, Weapons Squad Leader, and Team Leader.

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Preface to the Article –

I had some reservations about publishing this paper that I wrote last year for concern that others would think ill of me or that it was an attempt to curry favor. At some point in life you will be confronted with a choice: simply speak your mind regardless of what others may think of you [, or to say nothing at all]. A few military magazines looked it over. It’s my take on leadership from those who were with me state side and Iraq.

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LEADERSHIP EFFECTS ~ January 2011

Singular perspective in the mind of any leader will lead him to fail. If uncorrected, it will pass to the others around him and the organization will follow. 

Leadership has been defined in a number of ways, but the end result should always be to the benefit of one another, our Soldiers, our military, and our country. Leadership as defined by the Army, uses phrases such as “influencing others” and “providing purpose, direction and motivation.”[i]

This is still true, but the focus of a leader should be on the effects of his or her leadership. Further, if leaders do not grasp the “human aspect” of leading, how can the organization improve? A number of us may overlook the cause and effect of leadership or the lack thereof. Poor leadership or leadership “in part” will not result in just failure alone when the cost paid for the lack of leadership may be another human life.

Leaders at every level should agree that there are two elements that make up any mission-oriented organization, those who follow during mission execution and the select few who lead them. Both are required to achieve any task that places the organization in a tactical advantage over another or to restore security. Failure by either will leave the unit with an incomplete task and lack of sufficient support to accomplish it to the fullest benefit of the organization.

ArmyStrongFrom our perspective, the odds will not be in favor of those left to deal with the failure of any leader or subordinate. Most of the failures of subordinates can be traced to their leaders. However, after a leader has implemented every measure of instruction and attention that can be given, a subordinate may still make the wrong choice. He or she is, in fact, just as human as their leaders, and that Soldiers’ free will may not always sway to do what is right. Regardless of the origin of the fault, we as leaders accept responsibility for what our subordinates do right and wrong. This approach to leading helps leaders to focus even further on their subordinates. The Army is the one institution in which the leader accepts the fault for what their subordinates fail to do. There is no blame. With regard to ethical decisions, there may be an unseen flaw within the subordinate’s moral judgment and character. As leaders, we spend time guiding subordinates both during training and after hours with regard to their personal actions and choices. We remind them that poor choices can lead to adverse actions which will be detrimental to their privileges and rank. How often do we convey to our subordinates the “effects” that their actions can have on others in the organization? How can we as leaders become more efficient in identifying the start of potential issues if the leader is not involved in the personal lives of their subordinates?

Rank has never been a requirement to lead. Rank never compels a Soldier to push himself beyond the limitations of his mind. Determined young Specialists can take charge and lead if they have been under sound leaders during the first part of their tenure in the military. Many of us have seen this. Rank is needed, but it is nothing more than a visual hierarchy that displays a level of authority that an individual leader has been entrusted with, not entitled to, for his or her position of duty. It is visible within the organization at every level. Our character must be balanced with regard to the rank that we hold and the rank that we advance to. At one end of the extreme, if we are not balanced in character, we run the risk of abusing our authority. Worse yet, at the other end, we fail to provide for our subordinates in training or human needs.

Human needs go beyond those that are required to survive in the physical body. All leaders should have learned this as they advanced up through their respective positions of authority, or so we think. Avoiding the mistake of promoting individuals with poor character or weak leadership ability is perhaps the one fact that causes leaders to have reservations about a Soldier being promoted to the rank of Sergeant based on time in service alone. Serious consideration needs to be taken when selecting subordinates for promotions. If we receive a leader who was promoted in this manner, all we can do is take what is there and make it better. In so doing, there are two points that leaders need to keep in mind when assessing incoming leaders who will either be our subordinates leaders, peers and Senior Leaders. First, the leader has no insight as to the methods of their training and mentorship. Poor leaders create more poor leaders, and bad habits carry from one to another. Every leader has faults and may fall short in some aspect of his duties, but it’s the leaders who choose to address these issues who become leaders of genuine character and look beyond “self” seeking to improve. Second, even if a leader has been instructed in the requirements of basic human needs, it is still not evidence that this leader is in practice of executing the correct actions of leadership. 

The leader development process for subordinate leaders and Soldiers is not to be taken with a “half-hearted” approach. One Army perspective states: “During this leader development process, the responsibility for a leader’s complete development is mutually shared by the leaders of the Army Education System, Commanders, and Leaders in the field, and the leaders themselves.”[ii]

Instructors in the Army Education System are in place to develop “line leaders” to better the organization. One unavoidable fact is that instructors are only with their respective student leaders for the duration of the developmental course. Course curriculum “highlights” the “job aspect” of their responsibilities and many leaders end up getting pushed through the course, keeping to the weekly schedule so long as all attendees receive passing scores on their exams. Instructors cannot fully evaluate leaders with regard to their ability to grasp and understand the “human considerations” in leading and developing their subordinate leaders and subordinates. Leaders on the line spend a good deal of their time involved daily with their Soldiers, but if the line leaders did not have the proper mentorship during their development, they will not be “in tune” with the human side of subordinate development. Many leaders in the Infantry often face the “taboo” designation as being a “Joe Lover” when other leaders witness the care for the well-being of subordinates. I agree that there needs to be a balance, but all leaders need to be attentive to the emotional and other human needs of their Soldiers. Neglect or failure to provide opportunity to resolve issues affecting emotional needs will allow doubt to enter the minds of subordinates causing instability in their emotional well-being. Issues left undone will foster an unfocused mind during the execution of missions. A subordinate who is not focused on the mission will prove to be detrimental to himself and those around him, which can result in the loss of life. The efforts of an unfocused Soldier provide nothing more than a void in security. He or she is of no use to the organization in their present state.

Leadership has focused mostly on compelling our subordinates to execute missions that affect those within the organization at every level as well as the host nation in which the organization operates. This is still both true and necessary for achieving the mission as set forth by the intent of any Commander. With regard to our history of leadership, mission accomplishment was a top priority regardless of the effects in human costs and subordinate needs. Today we recognize that care for the human side of our Soldiers is a fundamental requirement for the operation of a successful organization. It should never be to a point where subordinates become soft or fall short in standards, but there needs to be a balance between the two. Mission accomplishment is still top priority, but we cannot ignore the human side.

On today’s front, leadership often involves directing and continually encouraging subordinates to execute tasks that would normally be against any human will if given a choice because it places them in danger. For this reason, Soldiers and Leaders need to understand that being a Soldier is not just a “job” and should never be considered just a career. In truth, it is a profession that requires a great deal of personal conviction. We chose our profession and we also chose to lead well, in part or not at all. Whatever measure of effort we put into our leadership, it will be visible through our actions and the performance of our subordinates. Leading Soldiers will always have results and consequences. Choices in leadership will always have effects. Good or bad.

How do we accomplish the task of leading subordinates in the execution of missions that could result in the loss of life? Further, how can we grasp the reality of both our will and that of our Soldiers to strive for mission success during which it’s execution we’re acutely aware that it could be our lives that are lost? We as leaders must also be prepared to both witness and deal with the loss of those that we serve with as leaders and those with whom we lead. We’ll also deal with the emotional effects of our remaining subordinates that will be brought on by the death of a peer. I want to pose two questions for thought and a genuine inward reflection for all of us as leaders. This is the only time that “self” needs to come first; when assessing one’s character as a leader. What if that loss of life was due to the failure on our part to lead effectively? Do you really think Soldiers will be unaware of our part in this failure? This is reason for absolute personal conviction within every Soldier.  Most especially those in the ranks of the Infantry and Combat Arms, but all Soldiers facing adversity and genuine risk of death fit this category.

With regard to personal conviction, if Soldiers and Leaders do not have within themselves a sense of duty and belonging to each other, their unit and Nation, they do not possess genuine personal conviction. Conviction and belief in the preservation of the well-being of our subordinates and one another are the traits of selfless service. These traits are present within the character of only a few. Most new Soldiers use the military as a “test bed” for figuring out their lives and what they want. Leaders have the responsibility to instruct their Soldiers on the importance of selfless service. Further, while it’s ok for them to figure out their lives in the Army, leaders must help them grasp the reality that the effects of their choices have much more “gravity” when the organization as a whole must deal with the outcome. All Soldiers must understand that our purpose is greater than ourselves and we must implement sound judgment in every decision that we make both on and off duty. This personal conviction motivates these Soldiers and Leaders to give of themselves. When Soldiers see their peers wounded and regrettably at times their death, it will cause them to appeal in action on behalf of those around them that have fallen. The decision to step forward and take this action is the ultimate form of selfless service. This kind of selfless service happens often within our ranks. Our appreciation to one another for such actions is evident, but seen only by those who endured with us.

In one previous unit, our Battalion Commander made it clear that there must be a complete “buy in” in the unit mission and the Commander’s intent for that unit to succeed. Perhaps this instruction came from higher. I agree if the cause is just and there is no violation of moral character or ethics during mission execution. This applies to both tasks within the organization or any act carried out among the populous of the host country. In the countries we operate, there will be those of a mindset that follow extremist beliefs that justify the deaths of their own people. This will make it difficult for Soldiers to execute a Commander’s intent without individuals of this mind-set feeling as if the Americans are violating their morals and ethics. Their beliefs are not only contrary to good civil order, but also the entitlement of every human being to dwell peacefully. Our efforts are generally an “effect” of good leadership during the execution of operations that preserve the human entitlement of peace. Peace that at times cannot exist without selfless service and sacrifice for those who are unaware what is given for them. It is a basic human need. When viewed from the perspective of humanity, freedom can no longer be restricted within the boundaries of our country.

Each and every one of us should reflect inward and ask ourselves, “Am I here just for a career or just to be a Soldier and Leader?” If the answer is “just a career” you have no purpose within the ranks of the Infantry or any branch of the Military service. If a Leader or Soldier is only interested in a career alone or the pay, their first thought will be for “self” rather than “others”. During training and actual missions, the benefit of others and the organization will not be first in their minds. If leaders think this way, what will be the outcome of their decisions? Soldiers and Leaders of this character will never be willing to give of themselves or only give enough if there is some personal gain to be attained. Such gains could be the possibility for advancement in rank or to produce a “false perception” of one’s character in an effort to look good in the presence of superiors and not living sound leadership daily.

True leadership serves a higher purpose and benefits those above and below us. Leaders focused on “self” do not see the results of the implementation of good leadership. The end-state is the efficient execution of any task. Tasks or missions executed more efficiently will result in less chance of fratricide and the unintentional killing or wounding of civilians. All of which will affect the organization at every level. Genuine leadership is often thankless and any leader not driven by a “career” must understand that the best leadership often goes unseen, even by those that they lead. Subordinates are usually unaware of the sacrifices that leaders make on their behalf. Sacrifice of time, sleep or food. The list can go on. I am comfortable with this, because the daily tasks that need to be carried out are done so efficiently. This creates an environment with less stress. The “machine” runs smoothly. An atmosphere with less stress on subordinates keeps their minds clear and focused when it comes time to execute missions that have a high level of stress and personal threat. The same holds true for tending to the needs of Soldiers with regard to spiritual and emotional needs. For this reason, it’s necessary for leaders to be involved in the lives of their subordinates. Even simply stopping by the barracks during the week-end for a brief check on their Soldiers is important. At the time the subordinate may feel as if their leader is intruding, but usually it is appreciated even if the subordinate never expresses it. Caring for the well-being of subordinates does not stop after the unit gets back from the field, refit is complete, and everyone is on their way after the safety brief. A subordinate’s problems become the problems of their leaders all the way up through the Chain of Command and NCO Support Channel. Don’t ignore it or expect that the Soldier knows how to best deal with the issue. When deployed, if a subordinate learns that they have lost their spouse either to death or even if it’s a fidelity issue, their mind will not be clear during missions. It would be wise to leave this Soldier off of a few patrols in conjunction with seeing the Chaplin and other elements within the military that are present to help service men and women deal with problems.

Leadership is never executed for the recognition of “self” by higher leaders. Leadership is any action on my part to train and move my subordinates, conveying to them that this action must be executed for a greater good that affects their lives as well as others. It is more important than ourselves, and requires our genuine attention if it is to be successful. If we fail those who follow us may fail, leaving the task undone. Every action we perform and every decision we make as leaders will have an effect on someone. This is why knowing the “definition” of leadership is not leadership. Our actions, decisions and our example are what “cause” the desired “effects” needed for a successful organization.

Our country was founded on an unwavering belief in God and self-sacrifice for the whole rather than “self”. Our history reflects that we have a great nation, so I am inclined to believe that their belief in God and selfless actions were just. Regardless of belief in faith, race or ethnicity, leadership is required to succeed. Human needs are the same for all. Self-sacrifice will be demanded of any nation that expects to prosper and preserve the freedoms of its populace or the freedom of other nations who cannot stand for themselves against an oppressor that deprives them of such basic human entitlements. Leaders should never forget that even though his or her selfless service goes unseen, there is always someone looking for our faults as leaders. It will either be someone who only has the intention to point out our faults simply to correct and develop us or it very well may be a leader who is focused on “self” and looks for fault only for the gratification of holding their authority over you. Regardless of which, if we maintain our character and hold ourselves responsible for our duties, they will find very little to point out. But, this requires genuine leadership, daily selfless actions and the ability to look inwardly at our own character. When there is fault, do not let pride prevent the correction of your actions and character. If we are not cautious, we as leaders can become more concerned about how we look with regard to our Officer Evaluation Reports (OER) and Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation Reports (NCOER) rather than taking care of our subordinates and the greater good of the organization. If we do not conduct an occasional “self-check”, a leader can develop a “power trip” or an attitude of “self” rather than executing good leadership. Subordinate leaders and Soldiers will see through it as well. This is often seen in a few newly promoted leaders advancing to a higher level of responsibility. Leaders should always be humble enough to remind themselves that the Army is still a “human organization”.

That being said, we as leaders can make mistakes. We must never let anything prevent us from addressing our short comings. We all must understand that no matter how high in the Chain of Command or NCO Support Channel we advance to, we can still learn more, improve and develop ourselves. The truth is never tasteful when it is not in our favor. One simple example is choosing the “easy wrong” over the “hard right” or being guilty of choosing “self” over the benefit of those around us. It happens more than we may think. It is still a truth that will eventually be seen, revealing our intent. We need to correct whatever prevents the truth from being in our favor. The majority of Leaders are of genuine character, but being human it’s always good to check our own character, giving our “moral compass” a quick shake to be certain that we’re on the right path regarding our leadership and that “self” comes last. The Seven Army Values are a good corner-stone if we as Soldiers and Leaders practice the values rather than just committing them to memory. If all Soldiers and Leaders choose to serve others rather than “self”, the organization as a whole will be in good care. The choice of “self” will never need to be addressed because your peers and leaders will see to your well-being and you theirs.

SSG David Allen Hickman
C CO, 2nd BN, 11th IN RGT


[i] Army Leadership: Competent, Confident, and Agile.” Washington, DC: Headquarters, Department of the Army. 2006. Print. p. 1-2.

 [ii] “Leader Development for America’s Army – Pamphlet 350-58” – 13 October 1994 – Page 5 (and see Figure 3, page 6) – http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/p350_58.pdf – Accessed 13 February 2012 – Army Publishing Directorate (APD) – http://www.apd.army.mil/

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

(Hard) Lessons Learned About Leadership

Posted in Leadership, Toxic Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

This past weekend, I found myself surfing WordPress for blogs with tags and topics I am interested in.  I must admit, I’ve become quite addicted to this blogging thing, and to the cyberworld known as the Blogosphere.  I continue to be fascinated with the vast array of  information being shared by some very interesting people from around the World.  In this Blogoshere, many communities of bloggers evolve from topic to topic and become intertwined into circles of influence that, quite honestly, can change the World, let alone the individuals who participate in reading and writing blogs.  Through this exercise, in the short time that I’ve been blogging (51 days), I have connected with people from around the World that have taken an interest in what I have to share with my blog, and I have found a lot of valuable information from them through their blogs, or their comments to my posts.

As I was browsing WordPress, I came across “Ten (Hard) Lessons Learned About Leadership after Eight Months in Command,” posted by a military officer who is apparently guiding troops through Advanced Infantry Training (AIT); training in the Army or the Marine Corps that typically follows basic training (boot camp).  It is very seldom that I come across a military leadership-oriented blog post, and I was quite interested to see what it had to say.  What hard lessons about leadership could have compelled someone to write a post about them?  When I began to read this ‘top ten’ list of what this military officer felt were ‘hard’ lessons, I realized that this leader was struggling with lessons that were both unfortunate and avoidable.  At first, after reading the first couple of lessons, I was taken aback by this blogger’s leadership style and approach.  But, to keep it in perspective, to remain fair, and to properly rationalize each lesson, I took a step back and carefully considered each one.

I had mixed emotions on if these ten lessons needed to be so “hard.”  From some of the lessons on the list, this person gives the impression that they are an autocratic leader.  During the last two decades, the military has become less of an autocratic leadership organization, although leadership by intimidation is still practiced by some non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) and mid to senior officers in all branches of the military.  In the military, there are still those ego-driven, autocratic type leaders (Generals in spurs, like George Patton), and some are well-respected and are followed to the letter.  And, I must admit, some do a pretty good job of leading in their own style, and get the desired results from their people.

Don’t get me wrong, there are hard missions to accomplish, and following direction and paying attention to detail are key.  But, more recently, from the day a recruit goes to boot camp, or a cadet goes to West Point, or other academy, to the time they spend downrange, our military men and women are experiencing a more down-to-earth, mentoring-oriented, lessons learned leadership atmosphere.

Let me go over each one of these hard lessons. Below, I list each of the topical items from the post.  After each one, I provide my thoughts as Command Performance’s Response.  Then, afterward, I will continue with some final thoughts:

1) Someone has to be the bad guy when managing 300+ people (if the other guy isn’t going to do it I have to be the bad guy)

Command Performance’s Response – Nobody should be the ‘bad guy’ when leading people.  Although you may be seen as one by your subordinates because of what you require them to do, and how they may need to go about doing it, the leader is not the bad guy.  However, if, by your very nature as a leader, you convey to your people who you are a bad guy, then followership will diminish or disappear.  No leader should be a bad guy intentionally, or go out of their way to be one.

2) Becoming the bad guy takes practice (The effectiveness of my “bad guy” didn’t take full effect until after about five tries – but I’m good at it now)

Command Performance’s Response – If a leader is working to perfect his ‘bad guy’ image, he is dishonoring his responsibility as a leader, and is creating a hostile environment for his followers.  If a leader has successfully become a ‘bad guy,’ shame on them.  Their subordinates deserve better than that; and, so does the service they represent and the Command (organization) they are responsible for.

3) It’s a good thing for people to walk out of my office feeling bad about what they did wrong (it helps them learn) – don’t give them a “but, you’re doing a good job speech” after the ass chewing.  It ruins the lesson.

Command Performance’s Response – I AGREE with most of this one.  We should never confuse praise with criticism, and never ‘kid glove’ anything that doesn’t deserve it.  As leaders, we have to keep it real.  If someone made a mistake, they should face the appropriate consequences; they should be accountable for their actions.  But, the days of an ‘ass chewing’ are going away.  Although I realize that the military deals with life or death actions (or inactions), and the consequence of failure can be deadly and be damaging to the Command (equipment, morale, mission accomplishment, etc.), most mistakes are not typically that extreme or hazardous.  Great leaders allow their people to fail without giving them the impression that they are failures.  I think that mistakes and failure, to some degree, is a teaching moment.  The “after action” of someone’s failure becomes important.  The leader then becomes mentor and coach.

4) Whenever a subordinate completes a major project applaud them, compliment them, and if possible find something wrong with the way they did things (this way they won’t get too comfortable and they’ll keep producing)

Command Performance’s Response – I AGREE with most of this one.  Not all ‘projects’ or ‘tasks’ are completely perfect.  We should evaluate the work done and provide feedback and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.  We do need our people to produce, but we need them to develop further to be better producers.

5) Mentoring takes more work than doing it myself but if I mentor now I will work less later on

Command Performance’s Response – I AGREE with every word of this one.  Mentoring is one of the most important jobs of a leader.  And, it develops the credibility and trust that is absolutely necessary in a leader-to-subordinate relationship.

6) Don’t let subordinates know that I’m tired (it gives them permission to be tired as well)

Command Performance’s Response – I AGREE with this one.  It goes along with, “never let them see you sweat”

7) Don’t complain to subordinates about missions given to me by higher headquarters (it gives them permission to complain about the mission to their subordinates – and the job won’t be performed well)

Command Performance’s Response – I AGREE with every ounce of this one.  Never arouse criticism in any unconstructive fashion about anything in an organization.  It is never a good thing to openly complain or talk unfavorably about the boss, the people, the department, the company, etc., in front of anyone within or outside of the organization.  The only constructive criticism should come from the work and production that goes into the accomplishment of the mission.  Becoming a rebel will poison a team.

8) Leaders in ranks beneath me will do well at things I check on, and will do poorly at things I don’t check on

Command Performance’s Response – I COMPLETELY AGREE with this one.  Follow-up…follow-up…follow-up!!!  Then, hold your people accountable.

9) The mission comes before Soldier Care / Soldiers always find ways to take care of themselves

Command Performance’s Response – I AGREE with 98% of this one.  However, we should always be watchful of those signs and indications that an individual or a team needs our moral or command support.  The safety, welfare and morale of our people are important; the glue to esprit de corps and cohesiveness.

10) There’s no such thing as a tired company, only tired company commanders

Command Performance’s Response – THIS IS SO TRUE!!!!

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As I stated earlier, this leader’s overall command (leadership) philosophy is not uncommon in today’s military.  But, if it works for him, and he gets the desired results, that is all that matters.  If he is accomplishing the mission with this, without sacrificing the morale of the troops, then he should do what is working for his leadership style.  You can see the dialogue between the blogger and myself in the comments section of the post to see how he justifies and rationalizes his approach to leading his soldiers.

Leading a team is not about command and control, but about listening and communicating – and about learning.[i]  A leader must establish trust and credibility, communicate effectively, employ empathy, intimately know their people’s capabilities, and move their people into positions to be most successful.  I think anybody who aspires to put these things into action can be a leader, over time, practice, and failure, and then learn through their faults and mistakes.

Some leaders are often more experienced at expressing negative emotions – reactively and defensively, and often without recognizing their corrosive impact on others until much later, if at all.  The impact of negative emotions – and more specifically the feeling of being devalued – is incredibly toxic.[ii]  In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,Dale Carnegie discussed techniques in handling people, ways to make people like you, how to win people to your way of thinking, and how to change people without giving offense or arousing resentment.  Some leaders struggle with their people skills, and the effects of that are shown through the morale and (lack of) productivity of their team or organization.

Leaders who are facing any challenge guiding their team to success should take a step back and revisit the core values and principles that are the qualities that lead to successCourage to face challenges, and to have the moral and mental strength to properly manage and lead; the commitment to be dedicated, with integrity and respect, to the professional and personal well-being of people; employ the appropriate Justice to be fair and consistent, with professional tact that maintains good relations and avoids problems (polite, calm, and firm); to have the enthusiasm that conveys a sincere interest in people’s performance, while being optimistic, cheerful and willing to help and guide them; and, to be devoted to your people – loyalty.

Today’s post reveals a first-hand account of a leader attempting to understand and overcome people management challenges.  As a result of my comments to his post, I have connected with him, and have had a few short conversations on his blog and mine.  As a result of our connection, we both will be able to interact and learn from each other’s blog, and to openly discuss the leadership challenges that we all face from time to time.

The Command Performance Leadership blog has been created to discuss leadership, the struggles that are experienced as leaders, and the solutions that can lead all of us to victories that before were bitter losses…..stay tuned.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson


[i]What the Heck is Wrong With My Leadership” – By Pekka A. Viljakainen – Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 – HBR Blog Network – http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/01/what_the_heck_is_wrong_with_my.html – Accessed 24 January 2012 – http://hbr.org

[ii]Why Appreciation Matters so much” – By Tony Schwartz – Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 – HBR Blog Network – http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2012/01/why-appreciation-matters-so-mu.html – Accessed 24 January 2012 – http://hbr.org

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Other Sources –

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” – By Dale Carnegie – MindMeister Mind Map http://www.mindmeister.com/40950677/how-to-win-friends-influence-people – Accessed 24 January 2012 – http://www.mindmeister.com

Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People Featuring Dale Carnegie. New York: NBC, 1938.

Related Article –

Ten (Hard) Lessons Learned About Leadership after Eight Months in Command” (antiwasp.wordpress.com)

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