You can’t generate morale and teamwork through “morale activities” and “teambuilding exercises.” You have to act, adapt, and adjust in line with your objectives and mission on a day-to-day basis with strong leadership and effective, efficient management.

Morale is the will to victory. Whether you’re an individual, team, or organization, the following elements are critical to building and maintaining solid morale.

  • A clear and compelling mission and deepset belief that you are helping others by bringing outstanding value.
  • Passion for the work and the results you bring.
  • A support system, including family, spouse, and close friends.
  • The right tools, supplies, and material support to get the job done.
  • Clear goals and understanding of higher level intent and plans.
  • Training and coaching as needed to build skills and knowledge.
  • Mentoring from someone who has been where you’ve been and achieved great things.
  • A technical advisory team consisting of experts in their domains: e.g., accountant, financial advisor(s), IT and web support, marketing, etc.
  • Business advisor(s) who give you honest feedback quickly and effectively.
  • Celebrating and profiting from wins while learning from temporary setbacks.
  • Knowing what you really want. In some cases, this can only come from the gritty world of action. You don’t know how you will react to something until you actually face it.
  • Experiment and learn from trial and error. Feedback from acting generates a lot more knowledge and wisdom than sitting around and waiting for something to happen.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

The leader gives a license to his or her followers to think and perform in a certain way; so all actions and words must be assessed for their impact on followers, superiors, peers, and those the organization is meant to serve. In the final analysis, the leader must be worthy of the loyalty, confidence, and respect of followers, because they will mimic the leader’s performance.

  • Look at your speech, decisions, actions, and performance from the perspective of others, especially your followers.
  • What do you think they expect in a leader?
  • What do they need in a leader?
  • Have you ever said one thing but done the opposite?
  • Why did you do so?
  • How could you have avoided it?
  • What will you do to avoid it in the future?

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Je ferai un « Briefing de préparation au combat » lors du Kickoff Motivation 2015, organisé annuellement par Michel Bélanger de La Zone Vente (lazonevente.com). Voir le billet descriptif de Michel…

I’m working on my next book, with the working title of Follow Me! Mastering the Art of Leadership… from the Battlefield to the Boardroom. One thing I consistently reinforce is that leadership can be learned and developed and that it is competence-based. In fact, competence is the heart of leadership.

People want to follow competent leaders. Competence, integrity, and accountability generate credibility with superiors, employees, peers, and the public. Credibility in turn generates respect, which then leads directly to leadership effectiveness.

Competence is the mix of skills, knowledge, and attitudes that is required to be an effective and efficient leader. Knowledge consists of theoretical concepts and technical data. It includes the information required to analyze situations, assess people, make decisions and plans, and understand when, how, and why to act in a timely, efficient, appropriate, and effective manner to achieve individual and organizational goals.

Skills are applied knowledge, the capacity to act according to learning and experience. Whereas knowledge is essentially theoretical in nature, skills can only be acquired through diligent and consistent practice until they become second nature. You can study the psychological aspects of leadership in scientific literature and books, but it’s only when you can translate that to action on the ground with real people that you can truly say you’re a skilled leader.

The technique of supplying corrective feedback illustrates well the relationship between theoretical understanding and practical application. Psychology informs us that people are more open to criticism when it’s constructive and couched in positive, growth-oriented terms. That’s the knowledge part. One of the corresponding techniques on the practical side of the equation is to provide feedback through the “sandwich” technique. You start by giving an overall positive assessment of the subject’s progress and performance. Then you point out the two or three areas where he or she needs to improve. You then assure them of your availability to provide timely advice and the training or coaching to improve. Finally, you reiterate the overall positive assessment, and gain their commitment to specific and measurable improvement goals.

The third component of competence is attitude, which includes all of the dispositions, traits, and beliefs that are required of a leader. At first, an individual must want to take the lead, to be out in front, take risks, and assume responsibility. After that, he must have the right mindset to continue leading, to be accountable, and to have the integrity to influence and inspire others. At one point during his presidency, Barack Obama was criticized from all quarters for saying he preferred to “lead from behind.” Most observers sensed, correctly, that this is an oxymoron. To lead is, by definition, to be out in front, taking hits and risking your reputation. You can’t do that with a wall of people in front of you to protect you from the harshness of reality.

By the same token, leaders must be willing to accept a certain amount of conflict and questioning from their advisors. Otherwise they risk getting lost in a miasma of sycophancy and adulation that cuts them off from reality. Abraham Lincoln intentionally forged a cabinet that was, as aptly named by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, a “team of rivals.” He wasn’t afraid to accept various points of view and challenges to his thinking and plans. As a result, his policies were stronger and bolder, and he is recognized as one of the greatest political leaders in American—and world—history.

Leaders must excel in all three forms of competence, and these must be in balance as much as possible. Someone who has knowledge and the right attitude to be a leader, but who doesn’t know how to lead, influence, and inspire others, is either ineffectual as a leader, unqualified, or simply inexperienced.

Someone who has knowledge and skills, but lacks the right attitudes and dispositions to lead with intention, integrity, and a sense of responsibility will often display a lack of accountability, unpredictability, moodiness, as well as egotistical, vainglorious behavior.

Someone who has the skills and the right attitudes will know how to influence and inspire others, but will lack the wisdom to apply these abilities in a timely, effective, and ethical manner. Such leaders can often be highly charismatic—think of Adolf Hitler … or maybe that crazy boss you once worked for—but they can be extremely dangerous and even destructive.

12 techniques to boost your leadership competence

  1. Set clear overarching objectives for you and your team.
  2. Analyze the internal and external environments, as well as the evolving situation.
  3. Consider multiple scenarios and courses of action before making a decision.
  4. Formulate a clear and direct mission and communicate it openly to your followers.
  5. Surround yourself with the right people and involve them as much as possible in analysis and decision-making.
  6. Ask for advice from followers, peers, and superiors and consider multiple perspectives in your analysis and decision-making.
  7. Break your plans into actionable steps and tasks and assign these to specific individuals on the basis of their competencies, talents, and developmental requirements.
  8. Ensure your subordinates have the resources needed to do their respective jobs and support them in their tasks.
  9. Communicate your plans and intentions clearly and directly.
  10. Question your followers frequently to know what they know, understand, and believe.
  11. Designate priorities and the focus of effort for all your plans and intentions.
  12. Follow up to ensure effective and efficient implementation of your guidance and direction.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Rehearsing plans and scenarios and practising future actions give a foretaste of your thoughts, emotions, and behavior as well as those of competitors, clients, and other stakeholders.

These techniques give you greater presence of mind once you go into action. They help you develop a baseline against which to compare your eventual performance. You can rehearse mentally or through simulated interactions with others. High-level athletes do such “visioning” to get into the right mindset before performing.

In the military, rehearsals are built into planning and battle preparation procedures at all levels. There are various approaches, such as war games, “chalk talks,” “walk throughs,” tabletop exercises, and many others.

Here is what you can do:

  • Imagine at least three different scenarios and their potential consequences.
  • Picture the events or interactions, their surroundings, actors, possible action-reaction-counteraction sequences, decisions, obstacles, and outcomes.
  • Develop “what if” contingency plans to deal with these.
  • Practise the words you will use and your behavior; try to predict the emotions that will arise when you are in the situation.
  • Consider how you will react in each step of the scenario.
  • You can do this alone, with one other person, or with your entire team.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Military leaders learn to “put troops to task” when they are making their battle plans. In simple terms, you may want something to happen, but unless you assign specific tasks and responsibilities to people, along with resources and timelines, things are likely not to get done. So, unless you believe your followers are capable of mind-reading, or you believe in miracles, make sure they know what you expect of them.

  • Specify your overall aim so people know what you want to achieve.
  • Identify key roles and functions.
  • Assign these to specific individuals with clear responsibility to achieve concrete, measurable outcomes.
  • Assign ressources and ask those you’ve tasked to ensure these are sufficient. Tell them to analyze their options and request additional ressources if required.
  • Confirm understanding of your outline plan and key responsibilities.
  • Have them brief their plans back to you so you know they are doing what you want them to.
  • Have them coordinate details amongst themselves and inform you of any major impacts on the overall intent and plan so you can modify if needed.
  • Detail constraints (thou shalt) and restraints (thou shalt not) so they know their “limits of exploitation.”
  • Always end your meetings or planning sessions with a record of decisions, assigned tasks and responsibilities, and next actions/events/milestones.
  • Talk with your immediate subordinates’ followers so you know if they have understood the tasks of the team and can execute them.

I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!

Richard Martin is The Force Multiplier. He brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to radically improve performance, grow, and thrive in the face of rapid change, harsh competition, and increasing uncertainty.

© 2015 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

  • You learn more by moving than by staying put. The normal impulse is to stay put and defend your position when you don’t know where to go or what to do. Unfortunately, this leaves you open to rapid change in the market as well as competitive threats. Moving gradually into a new market or a new product or service category gives you time to learn and adjust your approach without over-investing at the beginning. You also get to pull back if, as often happens, you’ve made a mistake or misjudged the situation.
  • Advance on a wide (or wider) front. It’s best to send scouting parties to report back about the lay of the land and the enemy’s positions, then to follow up with more forces if you’re successful. In business, this can mean trying many, small experiments with new products or markets to see what will happen, and then preserving those that succeed.
  • Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. If you can’t make accurate and timely predictions to know what will succeed in the long run then it stands to reason that you need to diversify investments and assets. This doesn’t mean becoming a conglomerate. It is preferable to experiment in a controlled manner at the edges of the business while using profits in existing business lines to fuel that exploratory work.
  • Always cover your moves. When I was a young infantry officer, we were taught to cover our moves with a firebase that could provide support in case we came under enemy fire. It’s better to move gradually over time into a new market or with a new strategy by small steps. This can be done remarkably quickly if you keep up the pressure by making incremental changes in a deliberate and consistent manner.
  • Reinforce success with backup forces. Once you have made it through the enemy’s front lines, apply resources to reinforce the initial breakthrough. The same notion applies to experimental business efforts. Success with one or some of them can be reinforced with new resources or with resources transferred from existing business lines. The result can be better positioning for the future.
  • Maintain reserves to exploit success. All of these principles require some level of resources, first to experiment and then to reinforce success by investing in the winners. This requires the maintenance of cash reserves or access to capital either from an existing business line, by borrowing, or by attracting new investors.
    I’m never too busy to discuss your needs or those of anyone else you feel may benefit from meeting or talking to me. So feel free to contact me at any time!