Archive for performance

Plan For Failure

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

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

General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended Reading: “The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld

Part 1: Three Reporters

Part 2: The Known and the Unknown

Part 3: A Failure of Imagination

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

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

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

My take:

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

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

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

John Keats (1795-1821) British Poet

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

Recommended Reading: The Five Biggest Disasters in American Military History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Plan for Victory ~ Expect to Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Improvise, Adapt and Overcome

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

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

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A good leader will:

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

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

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

1) Set tasking according to capabilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sources –

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

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

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

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

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Related Articles –

Fundamentals of Naval Leadership

Posted in Books, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

by Department of Leadership and law, U S. Naval Academy ~ Karel Montor

The Navy defines leadership as the art, science, or gift by which a person is enabled and privileged to direct the thoughts, plans, and actions of others in such a manner as to obtain and command their obedience, their confidence, their respect, and their loyal cooperation.  Simply stated, leadership is the art of accomplishing the Navy’s mission through people.[i]  To accomplish this, the Navy leader employs the principles of leadership, core values and the qualities that lead to success.  A Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, a student participating in an ROTC program, or an individual going through Officer Candidate School (OCS) are introduced to the fundamental leadership skills necessary to become a successful Naval and Marine Corps officer.

“Fundamentals of Naval Leadership” is a Naval Academy text book, and is the companion piece to “Naval Leadership: Voices of Experience – Second Edition.”  In essence, the book builds from the discussion of the concepts of leadership; human behavior, motivating people (and ourselves), conflict resolution, evaluating performance, the structure and function of groups.  In the second half of the book, it transitions into discussion of the dynamic qualities of leadership that are required to be successful; moral leadership, leading by example, and virtues & traits.  It finishes with the topics of personal relations with people, counseling & interviewing, discipline, training, and organization & administration.  Of course, as a military academy text book, it covers aspects of being a Naval (or Marine Corps) Officer in the greatest Navy in the World; rights, responsibilities, code of conduct, traditions & customs, etc.  The parallel to managing and leading in the business world are obvious, and it is easy to interchange military and branch-specific references to themes, situations and experiences in a civilian corporate environment.  At the end of the text book, there are case studies, again geared toward leading in the Navy.  The situations and scenarios are comparable to day-to-day experiences to any manager in any field of expertise.  The book goes back to basics, and presents the many aspects of leadership at almost an introductory level – approaches to and styles of leadership, examples of effective leadership, the psychology of leadership, and the factors and traits of the effective leader – to teach its readers to become more effective leaders.[ii]

The Naval tradition places special emphasis on the development of leadership ability. This emphasis is found with regard to both institutional efforts and individual efforts. Elaborating on the responsibility of naval officers to develop leadership skills,[iii] Admiral William V. Pratt (Chief of Naval Operations – 1930 to 1933) said, “The greatest problem facing the career naval officer is leadership.  Yet this most important factor in a man’s life frequently is allowed to grow like a flower in a garden surrounded by rank weeds.  So many feel that if they follow the average course of naval life, experience will finally give them the qualities of the great leader, and opportunity may reward them with high command.  Few realize that the growth to sound leadership is a life’s work.  Ambition alone will not encompass it, and if ambition alone be a man’s sole qualification, he is indeed a sorry reed to lean upon in time of stress.  The path of qualification for leadership is a long, hard road to travel.  It is a path of life.  It envisages all of a man’s character, his thoughts, aims, and conduct of life.  It requires the wisdom and judgment of the statesman, the keen perception of the strategist and tactician, the executive ability of the seaman; but above all, it requires sterling worth of character and great human understanding and sympathy.[iv]

In his Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, Admiral Arleigh Burke (Chief of Naval Operations – 1955 to 1961) wrote, “No matter what mark an officer may leave in history by his deeds in battle, or in intellectual contributions, or in material inventions, his greatest legacy to his country will be the example he has given as a man and as a leader of men.”[v]
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United States Naval Academy page banner

The Naval Academy has a unique clarity of purpose, expressed in their mission:

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.”[vi]

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This was one of the books I listed in last week’s “The Development of a Reading Program,” and is the second book I will read from my 2012 reading list.  I encourage you to go online to order a copy for yourself and add it to your library.  If you are interested in learning more about this book, and would like to acquire it, please visit this link at Amazon.com.
 Copyright © Dale R. Wilson
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Footnotes –

[i] Montor, Karel, Anthony J. Ciotti, and Malcolm E. Wolfe. Fundamentals of Naval Leadership. The Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1984. page 1. (The definition of leadership is adapted from Naval Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1939, page 1, and Frederick Ellsworth Wolf, A.M., Leadership in the New Age, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1946, page 3)

[ii] ibid.

[iii] Al-Harbi, Toraiheeb. Navy Definitions of Leadership and LMET/NAVLEAD Competency Clusters Compared to Selected Leadership Theories. Thesis. Naval Postgraduate School, 1995. http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA306113 – Accessed 7 February 2012.  The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC®) – http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/

[iv] Montor, Karel, Anthony J. Ciotti, and Malcolm E. Wolfe. Fundamentals of Naval Leadership. The Department of Leadership and Law, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 1984. page 77. (from Selected Readings in Leadership, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, 1957, page 1)

[v] ibid. page xviii. (from the Forward to the second edition of Naval Leadership, the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD, 1959)

[vi] Mission of USNA –  http://www.usna.edu/mission.htm – Accessed 7 February 2012 – United States Naval Academy | Home Page – http://www.usna.edu/

Putting the Principles into Practice

Posted in Leadership, Principles, Video of the Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Marine Corps Principles of Leadership

The Video of the Week

Video length = 44:11

The most popular post on this blog to date has been the Eleven Principles of Leadership.  It has experienced the most page views of any post since this blog’s inception on December 5, 2011.  In recent posts, I have been establishing the foundation of leadership by discussing the qualities of a leader, the qualities that lead to success, core values, and the eleven principles of leadership.  Since this has had such popularity, and people have recognized the importance of these principles, I am continuing the discussion by introducing you to Retired Marine Corps Colonel Rick Craig.  In this week’s Video of the Week, Colonel Craig describes how using the principles of leadership will help you become a better leader.

In this video, Colonel Craig covers a great deal more than just a discussion of the principles of leadership.  As I always do with the video of the week, for those who cannot invest the time to view the entire video, I have summarized the important points of the video.  Below the video, you will see the summarization of Colonel Craig’s lecture.

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What is the difference between a manager and a leader?  Managers deal with complexity.  Managers take their team and tries to best assign each person; to put people where they can make the best and most effective contribution to the team, while being efficient.

Leaders care about how the manager is dealing with their complexities.  But, in addition, leaders care about motivation.  Leadership is about motivation.  What a good leader does is they establish the climate and opportunity where people can motivate themselves.

What is the difference between leadership and management?

  • Leadership is the art of motivating a group toward a common objective
  • Management is the process of working with and through others to achieve organizational objectives in an efficient and ethical manner

In the United States Marine Corps, leadership is learned and earned.  Marine Corps leadership is considered an inventory of assets, and are a guideline for self-improvement that builds the personal plan for the future.  They are the leadership traits; integrity, knowledge, courage, decisiveness, dependability, initiative, tact, unselfishness, enthusiasm, bearing, endurance, justice, loyalty and judgment.

Are Leaders made or born?

                “Effective leaders are made, not born.  They learn from trial and error, and from experience.  When something fails, a true leader learns from the experience and puts it behind him.” – General Colin Powell

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Performance appraisals are one of the most important jobs a leader must do.  Feedback is an important part of what all leaders do.  Colonel Craig referenced the Marine Corps Order 1610, the Marine Corps Fitness Report (FitRep); the Marine Corps performance appraisal system.  Although there is one objective for Marines, they rank them in a pyramid of where their leadership potential lies.  The Marine Corps grades Marines subjectively; to subjectively judge the character of the people they work with.

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The cornerstones of Marine Corps leadership are authority (legitimate power), responsibility (obligation to act) and accountability (answering for one’s actions).

Authority – The power vested in the manager by senior management in the organization.  That authority must be earned.

Responsibility – Taking action when a task needs to be completed.  Knowing when it is time to take such action.

Accountability – Those who are responsible for something must be accountable.  And, leaders are accountable for each and every person that works them.

Good leaders always give credit for accomplishments of their staff.  Giving credit to individuals and teams will motivate them.  But, if something goes wrong, and a leader blames an individual or the team, the leader will erode the leadership (credibility and trust) of that group.  Leaders will take credit collectively for the group (“WE did this…we did that…my people did this…”).  But, if something goes wrong, a good leader will take personal responsibility for what went wrong (“I made the wrong decision”).

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Leadership Styles –

Many people think that the military is more autocratic than democratic in its leadership style.  Styles of leadership can be situational, as well as based on the leader’s personality. 

       AUTOCRATIC                                              DEMOCRATIC

———————————————————————————————————->

Telling               Selling                         Participant               Delegate

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Leadership is about motivation.  What is motivation?

  • People must be motivated and encouraged to work effectively
  • Ways to motivate include:

               – Recognition

               – Approval by management

               – Respect

               – Rewards for work done

Some motivational techniques may fail due to certain influences.  Projects may fail due to unexpected delays, unattainable objectives, impossible deadlines, etc.  No amount of effort, overtime, etc. can help change the outcome.  No amount of motivation will get the individuals and the team any closer to accomplishing the task or project.

All people are different, and deserve to be treated differently.  What motivates one person may be totally demotivating to someone else.  Good leaders will know this and treat each person the way that best motivates them.  The mark of a good leader is to understand what motivates individuals.

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Morale

  • The motivation of an entire group collectively
  • “The capability of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose.” – Alexander H. Leighton
  • Esprit de corps (the spirit of the corps)

Examples of a morale problem:

  • People coming in late
  • People calling out sick
  • Lack of productivity

Signs that morale is good:

  • Productivity is up
  • The working atmosphere is positive
  • People are willing to do things
  • People offer ideas
  • People take initiative

How does the leader maintain morale? (from the “User’s Guide to Marine Corps Leadership”)

  • Teach belief in the mission
  • Instill confidence (through training, knowledge and experience)
  • Consider job assignments carefully (who does what jobs)
  • Demonstrate concern

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In addition to the leadership principles, Colonel Craig discusses additional leadership guidelines.  They are:

  • Be patient
  • Give Clear Directions
  • Banish the “zero defect” mentality
  • Do not over-supervise
  • Be helpful
  • Demand accountability
  • Instill loyalty
  • Reward
  • Encourage
  • Maintain integrity
  • Anticipate needs

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A Leader’s Span of Control

The effective span of control (number of direct reports a leader can effectively manage) for a typical leader is 4 to 8.  The Marine Corps uses the “rule of 3.”

What is an influence leader?

A person who is a de facto leader, but their authority is not embedded by the organization, but is given to them by their peers; because of their personality, their charisma, their longevity, their knowledge.  Influence leaders are those who make organizations tick.  They are also the agents of change.  Influence leaders are the individuals organizations should identify to be promoted into management and leadership roles.

The Importance of Influence Leaders

  • In a very flat organization, “influence” leaders emerge
  • They may become de facto leads
  • They are chosen by their peers due to their longevity, experience, personality, or communication skills
  • They are also the agents of change

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The Leader as a Teacher

According to the United States Marine Corps’ Fleet Marine Force Manual ONE (FMFM-1), leaders should see the development of their subordinates as a direct reflection on themselves.  Leaders and their subordinates accomplish this in various ways:

  • Mentoring

               – Shadowing

               – Controlled Exposure

  • Training

               – Hands-On

               – Formal (e.g., Instructor lead)

               – Self-Taught (e.g., Books, CBT, E-Learning, etc.)

  • Trade Publications

               – Magazines (Authored or Read)

               – White Papers (Authored or Read)

  • Certificates/Association Membership

               – Internally Recognized

               – Industry Recognized

  • Conference/User Groups

               – Speaking

               – Attendance

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Colonel Craig’s Bottom Line is summarized as follows:

Managers who are also leaders:

  • Motivate
  • Train
  • Challenge
  • Learn from their employees
  • Lead within the parameters of their personality
  • Allow team members to succeed by failing
  • Accept responsibility
  • Promote testing within the organization
  • Embrace new ideas and technology

Even with the best tools and processes in the World, if your staff is not focused and productive, your efforts as a leader will be weak and ineffective, and your finished product will reflect your poor leadership.

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Next week’s Video of the Week will feature General Anthony Zinni, USMC (ret.).  It will be entitled “Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom.”

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

Qualities that Lead to Success

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

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

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

JUSTICE

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

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

JUDGMENT

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

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

DEPENDABILITY

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

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

INITIATIVE

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

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

DECISIVENESS

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

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

TACT

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

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

INTEGRITY

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

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

ENTHUSIASM

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

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

BEARING

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

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

UNSELFISHNESS

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

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

COURAGE

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

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

KNOWLEDGE

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

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

LOYALTY

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

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

ENDURANCE

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

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

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

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Source –

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

Eleven Principles of Leadership

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

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

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

1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement

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

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

2. Be technically and tactically proficient

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

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

3. Know your subordinates and look out for their welfare

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

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

4. Keep your subordinates informed

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

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

5. Set the example

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

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

6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished

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

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

7. Train your unit as a team

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

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

8. Make sound and timely decisions

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

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

9. Develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates

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

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

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

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

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

11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

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

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

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Sources –

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

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

Naval Leadership – Voices of Experience

Posted in Books, Naval Leadership, Reading Room with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2011 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance
edited by Karel Montor
 
This is an extensive, 546 page compilation of essays, commentaries and articles offered by Naval and Marine Corps leadership of both the United States and NATO Allies.  It is the primary resource for instructors at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to teach leadership; particularly leadership in the naval service.  It covers topics such as the parameters of leadership & management, the responsibilities and qualities of leadership, planning for mission accomplishment, directing and coordinating operations, effective communication, personnel support & discipline, and asset management.  Additionally, it is a book that discusses responsibility, accountability, good order, discipline, integrity, planning, organizing, directing, controlling, self-discipline, loyalty, as well as other basic attributes required to lead people and organizations. 
 
Although it is a military-oriented text, the parallels to the business world are clear and understandable.  It is more a leadership guide for anyone, both in military and corporate environments, who are in a position to lead, and those who aspire to.  One would come away from this read with a definitive set of core values to successfully lead in their respective professions, both military and civilian.
 
A very good review of this book was posted on Amazon.com.  It reads as follows:
 
This book is compiled with the premise that leaders are trained and made, not born, and offers a wealth of advice from successful naval officers about the principles and practices of good naval leadership. The compartmentalization between specific leadership skills/qualities/practices is somewhat artificial, for leadership is a holistic enterprise, but such an organized format allows the reader to read at his own pace and begin reading from any section that interests him. This book is not about sequential mastery, but serves as a reference and resource. It is great for junior officers who want to imbibe the ideals of leadership, and would benefit hardened naval veterans who desire a return to leadership first principles and rejuvenate their professional outlook.[i]_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
This was one of the books I listed in last week’s “The Development of a Reading Program,” and is the first book I will read from my 2012 reading list.  I encourage you to go online to order a copy for yourself and add it to your library.
 
If you are interested in learning more about this book, and would like to acquire it, please visit this link at Amazon.com.
 
 Copyright © Dale R. Wilson
 

[i] “Amazon.com:Customer Reviews: Naval Leadership: Voices of Experience.”  http://www.amazon.com/Naval-Leadership-Experience-Karel-Montar/product-reviews/1557505969.  Accessed 19 December 2011.  http://www.amazon.com/

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