Archive for USMC

The 237th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps

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

USMC logo.svgThere are few who are as true to the core,  who are so tremendously proud to serve their Country, as those of the United States Marine Corps.  If you have known, have met, served with, or served as a Marine, you know what I mean.  Today is the Marine Corps’ 237th Birthday, and they deserve to be honored and celebrated today.  On November 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Captain Samuel Nicholas formed two battalions of Continental Marines as naval infantry.  I dedicate this message to all U.S. Marines; retired, active duty, reserve, and those who aspire to become Marines.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, OORAH and SEMPER FI!!!

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“Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference.  The Marines don’t have that problem.”

President Ronald Wilson Reagan

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FOR HONOR

FOR COUNTRY

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2012 Marine Corps Birthday Message

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Warriors of Honor, Courage and Commitment

Becoming a warrior means joining a brotherhood, forged in the crucible of training and proven on the battlefield.  A true warrior is measured not only by his strength, but his honor.  No battle is ever won alone.  Warriors never rest.  Anyone can follow a path; Few make their own.  Every warrior lives for the fight.  For there is always another battle waiting to be fought and won.

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United States Marine Corps 237th Birthday Tribute 2012 | Official GoDaddy.com Video

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Index of Marine Corps-related Blog Posts on Command Performance Leadership:

A United States Marine Corps MBA

Inspirational Wisdom from a War-Hardened Marine Corps Officer

Making Marine Corps Officers

How Would the Marines Run Your Business?

Quote of the Day By General John A. Lejeune

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

Decision-Making in the New ‘Leadership Organization’

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

Putting the Principles into Practice

The United States Marine Corps Roadside Assistance Service

Quote of the Day By General John A. Lejeune

Posted in Leadership, Quote of the Day with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

13th Commandant of the Marine Corps
(1867 – 1942)

“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.”

Lieutenant General John A. Lejeune

EGA

 

The United States Marine Corps Roadside Assistance Service

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

Marine Corps

Dial 1-800-OORAH for immediate roadside assistance for any crisis you are in.

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Marines, CRW practice for 2012 JB MDL open house

5/10/2012 – A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 conducts slingload operations with Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., May 10. Both units were preparing for a Marine airpower demonstration at the 2012 JB MDL Open House and & Air Show, scheduled for May 12 and 13. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Parker Gyokeres)

Sources –

Photos: Marines, CRW practice for 2012 JB MDL open house – http://www.amc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/144956/photos-marines-crw-practice-for-2012-jb-mdl-open-house/ – Accessed 10 November 2017 – Air Mobility Command – http://www.amc.af.mil/

Inspirational Wisdom from a War-Hardened Marine Corps Officer

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2012 by Dale Wilson - Author of Command Performance

“I like Marines, because being a Marine is serious business.  We’re not a social club or a fraternal organization and we don’t pretend to be one.  We’re a brotherhood of “Warriors” – Nothing more, nothing less, pure and simple.  We are in the ass-kicking business, and unfortunately, these days business is good.”

Colonel James M. Lowe, Commander, Marine Corps Base Quantico, 2004

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Marine Corps officers are straight shooters; especially the old, salty ones.  They’re straight shooters with their rifles and with their mouth.  We can learn a lot about leadership, integrity, honor and courage, among other valuable topics, from Marines and Marine Corps officers.

As I was researching for some inspiring Marine Corps messages and quotations, I stumbled on a speech presented by Colonel James M. Lowe, former Commander of the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia.  I could not find very much biographical information about Colonel Lowe.  However, I did find the following:

Colonel James M. Lowe

Colonel James M. Lowe

Colonel James M. Lowe was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1976 through the NROTC program upon graduation from the University of South Carolina.  Col. Lowe embarked on an illustrious military career during which, among varied assignments, he served as an Infantry Officer with the 3rd Marine Division, 2nd Battalion, 4, in Okinawa, Japan; was a Series Officer and Personnel Officer at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina; completed a tour of duty in Beirut, Lebanon with the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force; and was assigned to Special Operations Command-Europe in Stuttgart, Germany.  Col. Lowe earned personal awards including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star.  Col. Lowe assumed his duties as Base Commander, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, on August 22, 2003.  Col. Lowe, now retired, made eight Marine expeditionary unit deployments, served with the Special Operations Command, and undergone every level of professional military education possible to hone his warfighting skills.

In this speech, Col. Lowe presents his insights and experiences as a leader of Marines during his 28-year career.  The speech was delivered at The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, and was dubbed the ‘Mess Night’ speech to Charlie Company at a formal ‘dining in’ event.  Through my research of this speech, I could not find the actual date it was delivered, although it appears it may have been delivered late last year.  Regardless of when Col. Lowe delivered this speech, his words and wisdom is timeless.

There are various sources for the transcript of this speech; sources that are also good blog spots on the web.  I present a few of them at the end of this post.  What I wanted to do here is present some poignant highlights of the speech that will both inspire you and fire you up; no matter if you are a Marine or not.  You can find the entire transcript of the speech via Marine Corps Web Log, as well as other links listed at the end of this post.  Please note that what I have summarized below are pieced-together excerpts from the speech.

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“Basically, I was told to talk about what I have learned over the last 28 years of leading Marines. Well, I have only learned eight things, and it will only take me about 60 seconds to share them with you.

Now that I think of it, if I had been invited to speak to you the day Charlie Company formed up, I could have probably saved you six months of TBS training.

I thought I would get this structured portion out of the way up front so I could talk about anything I want to, so here goes.

1. Seek brilliance in the basics, always do the right thing, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

2. If you are riding at the head of the herd, look back every now and then and make sure it is still there.

3. Never enter an hour-long firefight with 5 minutes of ammo.

4. This one is really important for all of you born North of Washington, DC. Never, never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

5. If you’re not shooting, and I can see by your marksmanship badges that some of you are challenged in this area, you better be communicating or reloading for another Marine.

6. There are three types of leaders. Those who learn from reading, those who learn from observation, and those who still have to touch the electric fence to get the message.

7. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap.

8. And finally, you might want to write this one down: Never slap a grown man who has a mouth full of chewing tobacco

I have a few minutes left; so let’s talk about something I like…Marines. Up front, let me tell you how much I admire you. Why is that? Unlike the vast majority of your fellow citizens, you stepped forward and committed yourself to a greater cause without concern for your personal safety or comfort. And you did it knowing that you would gain nothing in return. Except the honor and cherished privilege of earning the title of “Marine Officer”.

Individually, you are as different as apples and oranges, but you are linked for eternity by the title “Marine” and the fact that you are part of the finest fighting force that has ever existed in history.

If you haven’t picked up on it, I like being a Marine and I like being around Marines.

So what is it that I like about Marines? This is the easy part!

I like the fact that you always know where you stand with a Marine! With Marines, there is no middle ground or gray area. There are only missions, objectives and facts.

I like the fact that if you are a self-declared enemy of America, that running into a Marine outfit in combat is your worst nightmare, and that your health record is about to get a lot thicker or be closed out entirely!

I like the fact that Marines are steadfast and consistent in everything they do. Regardless of whether you agree with them or not; that Marines hold the term “politically correct” with nothing but pure disdain; that Marines stand tall and rigid in their actions, thoughts and deeds when others bend with the direction of the wind and are as confused as a dog looking at a ceiling fan!

I like the fact that each and every Marine considers the honor and legacy of the Corps as his personal and sacred trust to protect and defend.

I like the fact that most civilians don’t have a clue what makes us tick! And that’s not a bad thing. Because if they did, it would scare the hell out of them!

I like the fact that others say they want to be like us, but don’t have what it takes in the “pain-gain-pride” department to make it happen.

I like the fact that the Marines came into being in a bar, Tun Tavern, and that Marines still gather in pubs, bars and slop chutes to share sea stories and hot scoop.

I like our motto: Semper Fidelis, and the fact that we don’t shed it when the going gets tough, the battlefield gets deadly or when we hang up our uniform for the last time.

I like the fact that Marines take care of each other. In combat and in time of peace.

I like the fact that Marines consider the term “Marines take care of their own” as meaning we will give up our very life for our fellow Marines, if necessary.

I like the fact that Marines know the difference between “chicken salad” and “chicken shit” and aren’t afraid to call either for what it is!

I like the fact that Marines have never failed the people of America and that we don’t use the words “can’t”, “retreat”, or “lose”.

I like the fact that the people of America hold Marines in the highest esteem and that they know that they can count on us to locate, close with and destroy those who would harm them! I like Marines. And being around Marines.

I like the fact that a couple of years ago an elected member of congress felt compelled to publicly accuse the Marine Corps of being “radical and extreme”. I like the fact that our Commandant informed that member of congress that he was absolutely correct and that he passed on his thanks for the compliment.

I like the fact that Marine leaders — of every rank— know that issuing every man and woman a black beret — or polka-dotted boxer shorts for that matter— does absolutely nothing to promote morale, fighting spirit or combat effectiveness.

I like the fact that Marines are Marines first. Regardless of age, race, creed, color, sex, national origin or how long they served or what goals they achieve in life!

Here is one thing I have learned for sure over the last 28 years. The years fly by, names change, the weapons and the gear change, political leaders and agendas change, national priorities and budgets change, the threats to our nation change. But through it all, there is one abiding constant —- the basic issue, do-or-die Marine.

He or she will do damn near anything asked, under terrible conditions, with better results and fewer complaints than any civilized human being should have reason to expect. And we, who have the privilege of serving them and leading them, make our plans and execute crucial missions based primarily on one fact of life. That the basic Marine will not fail his country, his Corps and his fellow Marines. That they will overcome any threat. If allowed to do so.

Think about that and remember that for 228 years it has worked and it has kept the wolf away from America’s door. I like Marines, because being a Marine is serious business. We’re not a social club or a fraternal organization and we don’t pretend to be. We’re a brotherhood of “warriors” — nothing more, nothing less, pure and simple.

We are in the ass-kicking business, and unfortunately, these days business is good. But don’t worry about that. What you need to remember is that the mere association of the word “Marine” with a crisis is an automatic source of confidence to America, and encouragement to all nations who stand with us. As Marines, our message to our foes has always been essentially the same. “We own this side of the street! Threaten my country or our allies and we will come over to your side of the street, burn your hut down, and whisper in your ear “can you hear me now?” And then secure your heartbeat.

Regardless of what MOS (Military Occupational Specialty code) you now have, if you don’t already know it, being a leader of Marines is about as much fun as you can legally have with your clothes on! And that’s true regardless if you are a grunt, datadink, sparkchaser, stewburner, wiredog, buttplate, remington raider, rotorhead, legal beagle, fast stick, cannon cocker, track head, skivvie stacker, dual fool or a boxkicker. And if you don’t believe it you will! Trust me!

Why is that? Because each of us fought to gain the coveted title “Marine”, it wasn’t given to us. We earned it. And on the day we finally became Marines, an eternal flame of devotion and fierce pride was ignited in our souls.

You have some challenging times and emotional events ahead of you. I am not talking about tomorrow morning’s headache. I am talking about the fact that the world is a dangerous place and as leaders of Marines, you will be walking point on world events.

Make sure you keep that flame that I mentioned earlier burning brightly. It will keep you warm when times are hard. It will provide light in the darkest of nights. Use it and draw strength from it, as generations of leathernecks have done since our beginning.

For those of you who are wondering, “Am I up to it?” forget it. You will be magnificent, just as Marine officers always have been. I realize that many of your young Marines are going to be “been there, done that” warriors and that they will wear the decorations to prove it. But you need to know, that they respect you and admire you. You need to know that they want and need your leadership. All you have to do is never fail them in this regard and everything will turn out great. Hold up your end of the bargain and they will not fail.

Long live the United States. And success to the Marine Corps!”

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Related Articles –

*Some very good USMC blogs and sites*

Col. Mike Lowe’s Mess Night Speech (usmc81.com)

Col. Mike Lowe’s Speech at Quantico (grunt.com)

Colonel Mike Lowe’s Mess Night Speech at Charlie Company TBS (onemarinesview.com)

Long Live the United States.  And Success to the Marine Corps (leadingmarines.com)

Long Ago and Far Away I was in a “Charlie Company” at TBS Quantico (v4asa.org/v4ablog)

Long Live the United States.  And Success to the Marine Corps – Colonel Mike Lowe’s Mess Night Speech at Charlie Company TBS via  Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 11 Det Foxtrot on Facebook

Making Marine Corps Officers

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

Listen to THIS while reading this post!!!

Officer Candidates School

“Ductus Exemplo” – Lead by Example

HONOR ~ COURAGE ~ COMMITMENT

The mission of Marine Corps Officer Candidates School (OCS) is “to train, evaluate, and screen officer candidates to ensure they possess the moral, intellectual, and physical qualities for commissioning, and the leadership potential to serve successfully as company grade officers in the operating forces”[i] of the United States Marine Corps.  OCS in the Marine Corps focusses on the candidate becoming a follower first, and then a leader.  The training is individualized, and centered on the candidate’s initiative to get the mission accomplished.  OCS puts them into scenarios where the candidate has to take charge, and where they have to lead.  Among many other things, OCS teaches the candidates:

  • How to act
  • How to conduct themselves as officers
  • How to be physically fit
  • How to establish a command presence (bearing)
  • How to lead by example
  • How to lead Marines
  • How to be confident
  • The ability to make quick, rapid decisions in a time compressed environment under pressure

Leading by example, and leading from the front, are two of the most important attributes of a United States Marine Corps officer.  At OCS, this is instilled in them very early and very quickly in their training.  Along with that comes the willingness to do the things that you asking your people to do.  You can’t ask your people to do something that you are not willing to do yourself.

The officer candidates are evaluated on if they are able to think and make decisions on their own, their ability to get their company from point A to point B, their ability to communicate, and their overall leadership capabilities.

Marine Corps officers must have integrity; to do the right things when nobody is looking.  They must conduct themselves as professionals at all times.

A leader in the Marine Corps needs to be humble and treat people with respect, no matter what rank they are.  It doesn’t matter what job you have, or what rank you are, the Marine Corps places a premium on leadership; from the private to the four-star general.  Officer Candidates School gives them an understanding of what basic leadership really is.  It not only provides them the leadership skills to be successful in the Marine Corps, but it prepares them for life.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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Related Content –

Do’s and Don’t’s of Marine Corps OCS (officercandidatesschool.com)

The Ultimate OCS Preparation Workout (officercandidatesschool.com)

How Academics are Taught at OCS (officercandidatesschool.com)

OCS Academics Intro Leadership —> Introduction to Marine Corps Leadership (officercandidatesschool.com)

OCS Academics Leadership Fundamentals —> Fundamentals of Marine Corps Leadership (officercandidatesschool.com)

Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (outlawamerica.blogspot.com)


Footnote –

[i] “OCS Mission” – Officer Candidates School – http://www.trngcmd.usmc.mil/OCS/default.aspx – Accessed 5 March 2012 – United States Marine Corps Training Command (Quantico, Virginia) – http://www.trngcmd.usmc.mil/

How Would the Marines Run Your Business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Leader-Leader (The Movement)

Leader-Leader Blog

Leadeer-Leader Facebook Page

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

David Marquet on LinkedIn

David Marquet on Twitter

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

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/

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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