Archive for principles

Character is Crumbling in Leadership

Posted in Core Values, Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2016 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

In military and civilian academic institutions around the world, above and beyond their core curriculum, character is taught and inspired.  In each of the military academies in the United States, as well as college Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, the purpose and responsibility is to produce leaders of character.  To accomplish this, they incorporate the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, compassion, and gratitude into the daily life of cadets and midshipmen who aspire to become tomorrow’s leaders.

The U.S. Naval Academy’s mission, for example, is to develop midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor, and loyalty.  They provide graduates 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.[i]  The Naval Academy has a deep and abiding commitment to the moral development of its midshipmen and to instilling the naval service core values of honor, courage, and commitment.[ii]

At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point character development strategy promotes living honorably and building trust.  West Point believes that their approach not only develops character, but modifies behavior over the course of the 47-month cadet experience.  Ultimately, the desire is for cadets and rotating faculty members to depart West Point with the character, competence, and commitment to build and lead resilient teams that thrive in complex security environments.  Most importantly, everyone commits to living honorably and building trust, on and off duty.[iii]

The Cadet Honor Code at West Point:

A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.[iv]

Recommended Reading: Duty, Honor, Country

The U.S. Air Force Academy has the Center for Character and Leadership development, where they advance the understanding, practice, and integration of character and leadership development as a catalyst for achieving the academy’s highest purpose, while also preparing the cadets for service to the nation in the profession of arms.[v]  I think the Air Force Academy has it absolutely correct when they say that there has never been a more critical time to increase understanding of how moral and ethical dimensions interact with the complexities of leadership – not only in the military context, but across many fields of human endeavor.[vi]

The demonstration of moral and ethical attributes are essential for effective leadership as a commissioned officer in the U.S. military.

Those who possess leadership characteristics seek to discover the truth, decides what is right, and demonstrates the courage to act accordingly – always.[vii]  Officers in the military are to epitomize humility, self-effacement, and selfless service.  So, at the basic and academic level, before the bars are pinned onto a newly commissioned officer, candidates are taught the importance of equality, dignity, and respect.[viii]

Aside from all of these foundations for character development from which scholars transition into professionals in varying fields of expertise and responsibility, it seems that the façade of character in today’s military is crumbling.

Recommended Reading: Defining Military Character

The Moral Compass is Broken

In 2015, just in the U.S. Navy alone, there were twenty commanding officers, four executive officers, and eight senior enlisted firings.  In one of last year’s cases, the commanding officer of the Norfolk-based USS Anzio propositioned a subordinate for sex in exchange for career advancement during a “wetting down”[ix] party at a nearby bar.  There was heavy drinking and inappropriate fraternization that evening, followed the next day by an encounter in the commanding officer’s cabin.

The list for 2016 is already growing.  From the firing of top leaders of a U.S. Navy destroyer for allowing fireworks and gambling on their ship, to a Navy officer being accused of spying, it appears that the moral compass for these leaders has broken.

Related: Relieved of Command

How can it be that the moral compass for these leaders has broken?  Why have they ventured off course so far that they ruin their careers, tarnish the branch of service they belong, and betray those who have, up to that point, trusted them with precious people, equipment, and resources?  Has leading by example become so difficult in today’s complex military environment that doing the right thing has become challenging?

In an article on the Military Times website, Andrew Tilghman reported that the Pentagon’s force-wide look at misconduct among senior military officers, and the efforts to prevent it, found that the Navy and Air Force lag behind in professionalism, while the Army and the Marine Corps have a very mature profession of arms.  Rear Admiral Margaret “Peg” Klein, the defense secretary’s senior advisor for military professionalism, attributes the Army and Marine Corps’ success to sending junior officers into leadership positions, and their professional identity is learned very early in their careers, where they quickly learn the importance of trust, humility, integrity, and empathy.

Not only are officers and non-commissioned officer’s responsible for upholding their own ethical behavior, they are responsible for instilling morals in their subordinates.

It seems the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ mentality is a growing epidemic throughout the ranks.  Maybe it’s time for the Pentagon to conduct an ethics stand down to reach every service member from four-star rank down to the recruit in basic training, similar to what the Marine Corps did a few years ago, to emphasize code of conduct and core values.  But, will that really begin the process to reduce and eliminate the problem?

Retired Army colonel, David S. Maxwell, Associate Director for Security Studies at Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, in an article about the growing concern over top military officers’ ethics, was quoted saying, “Faced with stress, and a very complex combat environment, people make mistakes.”  Andrew Bacevich, professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University, in an article asking if recent ethics and sex scandals undermine integrity of the officer corps, said “The truth is just because people are wearing stars, doesn’t mean they are immune from human frailties.”  Are these legitimate reasons for these ethical lapses in judgement, or merely excuses?

Character is the foundation upon which all leadership traits are built.

Moral and ethical behavior is truly where one’s leadership becomes the bedrock of who we are as individuals, and as leaders.  Its strength comes from the fortitude to always do our best, and to always do what is right, no matter what may lure us away from making the right decision.  The four cornerstones of this foundation are the values of integrity, respect, responsibility and professionalism.  Or, to use a different and more common metaphor, these become the four points on the moral compass.  They are the core values of a leader that lead to uprightness and success.

No matter what our challenges happen to be, either driven by stress or human urges, we must strive to reach deep within ourselves to overcome the temptation to make poor decisions; no matter if we are in uniform downrange, or in daily life with our family or friends.  Our country, society, superiors, peers, subordinates, family, and friends are relying on our steady and consistent moral courage to translate into professional decorum and behavior; always.

Many respected military leaders of the past espoused the vitally important qualities of a leader.  Lieutenant General John A. Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps said, “Leadership is the sum of those qualities of intellect, human understanding, and moral character that enables a person to inspire and control a group of people successfully.”  Among General Douglas MacArthur’s 17 Principles of Leadership, which essentially acts as a leader’s self-assessment questionnaire, there is this question: “Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?”[x]

An excerpt from the West Point Cadet Prayer reads, “Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole truth can be won.  Endow us with the courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”[xi]

The trailhead to success was clearly identified to us early in our lives and careers.  Ultimately, it became our responsibility to continue to travel along a wholesome path.  But, at some point in our lives, we find ourselves at the intersection of human-nature and temptation, faced with the challenge to make the right decision.  When this happens to you, which way will you go?  Will your moral compass point you in the right direction?  Is the foundation of your character strong enough to stand firm?  Or, will your character crumble to the ground?  What will your leadership legacy be?  Lessons learned through life’s experiences, as well as the awareness and attentiveness to your surroundings, should always provide you the sense of direction necessary to make the right decision.  You must have courage, faith and confidence that your moral compass will point you in the right direction; the path toward the intersection of character and integrity.  If your ultimate destination is success and victory, follow your moral compass.[xii]

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Notes:

[i] U.S. Naval Academy. Mission of USNA. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. http://www.usna.edu/About/mission.php.

[ii] U.S. Naval Academy. Character Development. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. http://www.usna.edu/Admissions/Military-Preparation/Character-Development.php.

[iii] The William E. Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic. “Character Development Strategy – Live Honorably and Build Trust.” Letter by Robert L. Caslen, Jr., Lieutenant General, U.S. Army, Superintendent, United States Military Academy: Page 3. Dec. 2014. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. http://www.usma.edu/strategic/shared documents/west point’s character development strategy(digital-2-4-15).pdf.

[iv] “The Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic – Honor.” The Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic – Honor. Web. Accessed 17 Apr. 2016.  http://www.usma.edu/scpme/sitepages/honor.aspx

[v] “Center for Character & Leadership Development Homepage.” Center for Character & Leadership Development Homepage. U.S. Air Force Academy. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. http://www.usafa.edu/Commandant/cwc/.

[vi] U.S. Air Force Academy, Journal of Character & Leadership Integration (JCLI). Center for Character Development – Publications Archive. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. http://www.usafa.edu/Commandant/cwc/cwcs/docs/cwcsPub_Archive.cfm.

[vii] “Building Capacity to Lead – The West Point System for Leader Development.” Officership & Perspective: Our Targets for Leader Development | Leader of Character: Page 18. United States Military Academy. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. http://www.usma.edu/strategic/siteassets/sitepages/home/building the capacity to lead.pdf.

[viii] Wilson, Dale R. “Schofield’s Definition of Discipline.” Command Performance Leadership. Command Performance Leadership, 23 Feb. 2012. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. https://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/schofields-definition-of-discipline/.

[ix] A ‘Wetting Down’ is a ceremony or event held congratulating a newly promoted officer.  More information can be found here:  “Social Customs & Traditions of the Sea Services.” Functions & Traditions – Wetting-Down Parties: page 14. Naval Services FamilyLine. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. htttp://www.goatlocker.org/resources/cpo/downloads/customs.pdf

[x] Donnithorne, Larry. The West Point Way of Leadership: From Learning Principled Leadership to Practicing it. New York: Currency Doubleday, 1993. pp. 178-179. Print.

[xi] Cadet Prayer. Office of Chaplains. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. http://www.usma.edu/chaplain/SitePages/Cadet Prayer.aspx.

[xii] Adapted from “Pithy Points to Ponder (A Leader’s Moral Compass),” by Dale R. Wilson on the blog Command Performance Leadership. 14 Nov. 2012. Web. Accessed 15 Apr. 2016. Edited and adapted for this publication. https://commandperformanceleadership.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/pithy-points-to-ponder-a-leaders-moral-compass/.

Leadership That Is McChrystal Clear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Trust

Build a foundation of relationships based on trust and teamwork.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Articles –

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

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

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

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

Gen. McChrystal’s Lessons in Leadership

(cnbc.com)

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

Sources –

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

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

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

Photo Credits –

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

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

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Five)

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

Yesterday, I posted part four of this series.  I encourage you to read Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Four).

From an article in Business Insider entitled “33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life.”

UNCONVENTIONAL (DIRTY) WARFAREUNCONVENTIONAL (DIRTY) WARFARE

The following 11 strategies will give a greater understanding of the diabolical psychology involved in dirty warfare, helping to arm you with the proper defense.  It gets nasty.

23) Weave a seamless blend of fact and fiction

Misconception Strategies

Since no creature can survive without the ability to see or sense what is going on around it, make it hard for your enemies to know what is going on around them, including what you are doing. Feed their expectations, manufacture a reality to match their desires, and they will fool themselves. Control people’s perceptions of reality and you control them.

24) Take the line of least expectation

The Ordinary-Extraordinary Strategy

People expect your behavior to conform to known patterns and conventions. Your task as a strategist is to upset their expectations. First do something ordinary and conventional to fix their image of you, then hit them with the extraordinary. The terror is greater for being so sudden. Sometimes the ordinary is extraordinary because it is unexpected.

Occupy the moral high ground25) Occupy the moral high ground

The Righteous Strategy

In a political world, the cause you are fighting for must seem more than just the enemy’s. By questioning your opponents’ motives and making them appear evil, you can narrow their base of support and room to maneuver. When you find yourself come under moral attack from a clever enemy, do not whine or get angry; fight fire with fire.

Deny them targets26) Deny them targets

The Strategy Of The Void

The feeling of emptiness or void — silence, isolation, non-engagement with others — is for most people intolerable. Give your enemies no target to attack, be dangerous but elusive, then watch as they chase you into the void. Instead of frontal battles, deliver irritating but damaging side attacks and pinprick bites.

27) Seem to work for the interests of others while furthering your own

The Alliance Strategy

The best way to advance your cause with the minimum of effort and bloodshed is to create a constantly shifting network of alliances, getting others to compensate for your deficiencies, do your dirty work, fight your wars. At the same time, you must work to sow dissension in the alliances of others, weakening your enemies by isolating them.

28) Give your rivals enough rope to hang themselves

The One-Upmanship Strategy

Life’s greatest dangers often come not from external enemies but from our supposed colleagues and friend who pretend to work for the common cause while scheming to sabotage us. Work to instill doubts and insecurities in such rivals, getting them to think too much and act defensively. Make them hang themselves through their own self-destructive tendencies, leaving you blameless and clean.

The Fait Accompli Strategy

Overt power grabs and sharp rises to the top are dangerous, creating envy, distrust, and suspicion. Often the best solution is to take small bites, swallow little territories, playing upon people’s relatively short attention spans. Before people realize it, you have accumulated an empire.

Take small bites29) Take small bites

The Fait Accompli Strategy

Overt power grabs and sharp rises to the top are dangerous, creating envy, distrust, and suspicion. Often the best solution is to take small bites, swallow little territories, playing upon people’s relatively short attention spans. Before people realize it, you have accumulated an empire.

30) Penetrate their minds

Communication Strategies

Communication is a kind of war, its field of battle is the resistant and defensive minds of the people you want to influence. The goal is to penetrate their defenses and occupy their minds. Learn to infiltrate your ideas behind enemy lines, sending messages through little details, luring people into coming to the conclusions you desire and into thinking they’ve gotten there by themselves.

31) Destroy from within

The Inner-Front Strategy

By infiltrating your opponents’ ranks, working from within to bring them down, you give them nothing to see or react against — the ultimate advantage. To take something you want, do not fight those who have it, but rather join them — then either slowly make it your own or wait for the moment to stage a coup d’état.

Dominate while seeming to submit32) Dominate while seeming to submit

The Passive-Aggression Strategy

In a world where political considerations are paramount, the most effective form of aggression is the best hidden one: aggression behind a compliant, even loving exterior. To follow the passive-aggression strategy you must seem to go along with people, offering no resistance. But actually you dominate the situation. Just make sure you have disguised your aggression enough that you can deny it exists.

Sow uncertainty and panic through acts of terror33) Sow uncertainty and panic through acts of terror

The Chain-Reaction Strategy

Terror is the ultimate way to paralyze a people’s will to resist and destroy their ability to plan a strategic response. The goal in a terror campaign is not battlefield victory but causing maximum chaos and provoking the other side into desperate overreaction. To plot the most effective counter-strategy, victims of terror must stay balanced. One’s rationality is the last line of defense.

A soldier’s greatest weapon is himself

——> Continue reading 33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life via Business Insider

For additional content related to today’s excerpt, please see Part 5: Unconventional (Dirty) Warfare via Wikipedia.

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Source –

33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life – Business Insider / Military & Defense – By Eloise Lee – Posted May 4, 2012 – http://www.businessinsider.com/33-strategies-of-war-you-should-apply-to-everyday-life-2012-5 – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/

based on the book The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

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Additional Resources –

The 33 Strategies of War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – page was last modified on 19 April 2012 at 14:42 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_33_Strategies_of_War – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Four)

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

Yesterday, I posted part three of this series.  I encourage you to read Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Three).

From an article in Business Insider entitled “33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life.”

OFFENSIVE WARFARE

The next 11 strategies outline the form of warfare practiced by the most successful captains in history. 

The secret to their success is a blend of strategic cleverness and audacity — it will give all of your attacks much greater force.

Lose battles but end the war 12) Lose Battles But End The War

Grand Strategy

It’s the art of looking beyond the battle and calculating ahead. It requires that you focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it. Let others get caught up in the twists and turns of the battle, relishing their little victories. Grand strategy will bring you the ultimate reward: the last laugh.

Know your enemy13) Know your enemy

The Intelligence Strategy

The target of your strategies should be less the army you face than the mind or women who runs it. If you understand how that mind works, you have the key to deceiving and controlling it. Train yourself to read people, picking up the signals they unconsciously send about their innermost thoughts and intentions.

Overwhelm resistance with speed and suddenness14) Overwhelm resistance with speed and suddenness

The Blitzkrieg Strategy

In a world in which many people are indecisive and overly cautious, the use of speed will bring you untold power. Striking first, before your opponents have time to think or prepare, will make them emotional, unbalanced, and prone to error.

15) Control the dynamic

Forcing Strategies

People are constantly struggling to control you. The only way to get the upper hand is to make your play for control more intelligence and insidious. Instead of trying to dominate the other side’s every move, work to define the nature of the relationship itself. Maneuver to control your opponents’ minds, pushing their emotional buttons and compelling them to make mistakes.

16) Hit them where it hurts

The Center-Of-Gravity Strategy

Everyone has a source of power on which he or she depends. When you look at your rivals, search below the surface for that source, the center of gravity that holds the entire structure together. Hitting them there will inflict disproportionate pain. Find what the other side most cherishes and protects — that is where you must strike.

Defeat them in denial17) Defeat them in denial

The Divide-And-Conquer Strategy

Never be intimated by your enemy’s appearance. Instead, look at the parts that make up the whole. By separating the parts, sowing dissension and division, you can bring down even the most formidable foe. When you are facing troubles or enemies, turn a large problem into small, eminently defeatable parts.

18) Expose and attack your opponent’s soft flank

The Turning Strategy

When you attack people directly, you stiffen their resistance and make your task that much harder. There is a better way: Distract your opponents’ attention to the front, then attack them from the side, where they least expect it. Bait people into going out on a limb exposing their weakness, then rake them with fire from the side.

Envelop the enemy19) Envelop the enemy

The Annihilation Strategy

People will use any kind of gap in your defenses to attack you. So offer no gaps. The secret is to envelop your opponents — create relentless pressure on them from all sides and close off their access to the outside world. As you send their weakening resolve, crush their willpower by tightening the noose.

Maneuver them into weakness20) Maneuver them into weakness

The Ripening-For-The-Sickle Strategy

No matter how strong you are, fighting endless battles with people is exhausting, costly, and unimaginative. Wise strategist prefer the art of maneuver: Before the battle even begins, they find ways to put their opponents in positions of such weakness that victory is easy and quick. Create dilemmas: Devise maneuvers that give them a choice of ways to respond — all of them bad.

21) Negotiate while advancing

The Diplomatic-War Strategy

Before and during negotiations, you must keep advancing, creating relentless pressure and compelling the other side to settle on your terms. The more you take, the more you can give back in meaningless concessions. Create a reputation for being tough and uncompromising, so that people are back on their heels before they even meet you.

Know how to end things22) Know how to end things

The Exit Strategy

You are judged in this world by how well you bring things to an end. A messy or incomplete conclusion can reverberate for years to come. The art of ending things well is knowing when to stop. The height of strategic wisdom is to avoid all conflicts and entanglements from which there are no realistic exits.

——> Continue reading 33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life via Business Insider

For additional content related to today’s excerpt, please see Part 4: Offensive Warfare via Wikipedia.

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Five), discussing Unconventional (Dirty) Warfare, will be presented on Command Performance Leadership tomorrow, May 10, 2012

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Source –

33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life – Business Insider / Military & Defense – By Eloise Lee – Posted May 4, 2012 – http://www.businessinsider.com/33-strategies-of-war-you-should-apply-to-everyday-life-2012-5 – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/

based on the book The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

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Additional Resources –

The 33 Strategies of War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – page was last modified on 19 April 2012 at 14:42 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_33_Strategies_of_War – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Three)

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

Yesterday, I posted part two of this series.  I encourage you to read Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Two).

From an article in Business Insider entitled “33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life.”

DEFENSIVE WARFARE

The next four strategies will reveal defensive warfare is the height of strategic wisdom — a powerful style of waging war. 

Get ready to master the arts of deception.

Pick your battles carefully8) Pick your battles carefully

The Perfect-Economy Strategy

We all have limitations — our energies and skills will take us only so far. You must know your limits and pick your battles carefully. Consider the hidden costs of war: time lost, political goodwill squandered, an embittered enemy bent on revenge. Sometimes it is better to wait, to undermine your enemies covertly rather than hitting them straight on.

Turn the tables9) Turn the tables

The Counterattack Strategy

Moving first — initiating the attack — will often put you at a disadvantage: You are exposing your strategy and limiting your options. Instead, discover the power of holding back and letting the other side move first, giving you the flexibility to counterattack from any angle. If your opponents are aggressive, bait them into a rash attack that will leave them in a weak position.

Create a threatening presence10) Create a threatening presence

Deterrence Strategies

The best way to fight off aggressors is to keep them from attacking you in the first place. Build up a reputation: You’re a little crazy. Fighting you is not worth it. Uncertainty is sometimes better than overt threat: If your opponents are never sure what messing with you will cost, they will not want to find out.

Trade space for time11) Trade space for time

The Non-Engagement Strategy

To retreat in the face of a strong enemy is not a sign of weakness but of strength. By resisting the temptation to respond to an aggressor, you buy yourself valuable time — time to recover, to think, to gain perspective. Sometimes you can accomplish most by doing nothing.

——> Continue reading 33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life via Business Insider

For additional content related to today’s excerpt, please see Part 3: Defensive Warfare via Wikipedia.

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Four), discussing Offensive Warfare, will be presented on Command Performance Leadership tomorrow, May 10, 2012

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Source –

33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life – Business Insider / Military & Defense – By Eloise Lee – Posted May 4, 2012 – http://www.businessinsider.com/33-strategies-of-war-you-should-apply-to-everyday-life-2012-5 – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/

based on the book The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

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Additional Resources –

The 33 Strategies of War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – page was last modified on 19 April 2012 at 14:42 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_33_Strategies_of_War – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Two)

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Yesterday, I posted part one of this series.  I encourage you to read Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part One).

From an article in Business Insider entitled “33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life.”

ORGANIZATIONAL (TEAM) WARFARE

The next 3 strategies are about making the most of your team.

Ideas and tactics mean nothing without an organized, responsive, creative, and motivated army. 

Segment your forces

5) Avoid the snares of groupthink

The Command-And-Control Strategy

The problem in leading any group is that people inevitably have their own agendas. You have to create a chain of command in which they do not feel constrained by your influence yet follow your lead. Create a sense of participation, but do not fall into groupthink — the irrationality of collective decision making.

6) Segment your forces

The Controlled-Chaos Strategy

The critical elements in war are speed and adaptability — the ability to move and make decisions faster than the enemy. Break your forces into independent groups that can operate on their own. Make your forces elusive and unstoppable by infusing them with the spirit of the campaign, giving them a mission to accomplish, and then letting them run.

7) Transform your war into a crusade

Morale Strategy

The secret to motivating people and maintaining their morale is to get them to think less about themselves and more about the group. Involve them in a cause, a crusade against a hated enemy. Make them see their survival as tied to the success of the army as a whole.

——> Continue reading 33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life via Business Insider

For additional content related to today’s excerpt, please see Part 2: Organizational (Team) Warfare via Wikipedia.

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Three), discussing Defensive Warfare, will be presented on Command Performance Leadership tomorrow, May 9, 2012

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Source –

33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life – Business Insider / Military & Defense – By Eloise Lee – Posted May 4, 2012 – http://www.businessinsider.com/33-strategies-of-war-you-should-apply-to-everyday-life-2012-5 – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/

based on the book The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

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Additional Resources –

The 33 Strategies of War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – page was last modified on 19 April 2012 at 14:42 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_33_Strategies_of_War – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part One)

Posted in Leadership with tags , , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

From an article in Business Insider entitled “33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life.”

SELF-DIRECTED WARFARE

The first 4 strategies are all about getting your head in the game.

The mind is the starting point of all war and all strategy…

Declare war on your enemies1) Declare war on your enemies

The Polarity Strategy

Life is endless battle and conflict, and you cannot fight effectively unless you can identify your enemies. Learn to smoke out your enemies, to spot them by the signs and patterns that reveal hostility. Then, once you have them in your sights, inwardly declare war. Your enemies can fill you with purpose and direction.

2) Do not fight the past

The Guerrilla-War-Of-The-Mind Strategy

What most often weighs you down and brings you misery is the past. You must consciously force yourself to react to the present moment. Be ruthless on yourself; do not repeat the same tired methods. Wage guerrilla war on your mind, allowing no static lines of defense — make everything fluid and mobile.

Amidst the turmoil of events, do not lose your presence of mind3) Amidst the turmoil of events, do not lose your presence of mind

The Counterbalance Strategy

In the heat of battle, the mind tends to lose its balance. It is vital to keep you presence of mind, maintaining your mental powers, whatever the circumstances. Make the mind tougher by exposing it to adversity. Learn to detach yourself from the chaos of the battlefield.

Create a sense of urgency and desperation4) Create a sense of urgency and desperation

The Death-Ground Strategy

You are your own worst enemy. You waste previous time dreaming of the future instead of engaging in the present. Cut your ties to the past — enter unknown territory. Place yourself on “death ground”, where your back is against the wall and you have to fight like hell to get out alive.

——> Continue reading 33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life via Business Insider

For additional content related to today’s excerpt, please see Part 1: Self-Directed Warfare via Wikipedia.

Strategies That Lead to Victory (Part Two), discussing Organizational (Team) Warfare, will be presented on Command Performance Leadership tomorrow, May 8, 2012

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Source –

33 War Strategies That Will Help You Win Everything In Life – Business Insider / Military & Defense – By Eloise Lee – Posted May 4, 2012 – http://www.businessinsider.com/33-strategies-of-war-you-should-apply-to-everyday-life-2012-5 – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Business Insider – http://www.businessinsider.com/

based on the book The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Additional Resources –

The 33 Strategies of War – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – page was last modified on 19 April 2012 at 14:42 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_33_Strategies_of_War – Accessed 7 May 2012 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/

Decision-Making in the New ‘Leadership Organization’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROVIDE CREATIVE SPACE –

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

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

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

INDECISIVENESS –

“In case of doubt, ATTACK!!!”

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

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

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

TAKING ACTION and AVOIDING INACTION –

“Lack of orders is no excuse for inaction.”

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

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

RISK-TAKING –

“Take calculated risks.”

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

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

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Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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

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

Presented by General Anthony Zinni, USMC (ret.)

The Video of the Week

Video Length = 1:08:57

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

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

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

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

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

1)      Reflections on leadership by great leaders

2)      “Feel good”  and motivational books

3)      Text Books

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

1)      The rise of globalization

2)      The rise of information technology

3)      Mass migrations

4)      The urbanization of humans around the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1)      Lack of confidence

2)      Lack of caring for their people

3)      Lack of the appropriate personal conduct

CONFIDENCE –

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

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

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

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

CARING AND TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PERSONAL CONDUCT –

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

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

1)      Understand themselves

2)      Have greater self-awareness

3)      Understand who they are

4)      Understand where their leadership levels are

5)      Understand where their skill levels are

6)      Help them identify their limitations

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

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

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

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

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

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CRISIS AND CHANGE –

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

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

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

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

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

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TECHNOLOGY TODAY –

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

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

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

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

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

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STRATEGY –

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

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

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

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

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VALUES –

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

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

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

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CRITICAL THINKING –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Sources –

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

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

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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

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