I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the fourth of these principles.

  1. Take your profession seriously and be a model of professional competency and development.
  2. Assume everyone is looking to you and will imitate you in your comportment, demeanour, and words.
  3. Walk the walk and talk the talk, but remember that actions speak louder than words.
  4. Own up to mistakes and errors, and correct them immediately.
  5. Follow the golden rule. Respect goes both ways.
  6. Be willing to make hard decision and to justify and explain them if necessary. Don’t just “rule by fiat.”
  7. Be firm but fair. Explain your decisions when they concern people directly.
  8. Know what you stand for and make sure others know it also.
  9. Be honest with yourself and others.
  10. If you don’t know, say so. You can always find out or ask for someone’s advice or input.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard 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.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

I have been focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the third of these principles.

  • Volunteer for important missions and responsibilities.
  • Plan ahead when you have a new mission or responsibility.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. If you’re not at least a bit nervous, you’re not taking enough risk.
  • Learn about and try out new approaches.
  • Take the blame when things go poorly, and praise your team when things go well.
  • Remember that no one is shooting at you.
  • Responsibility means being able to answer for your decisions, actions, and behaviour. Responsibility = accountability.
  • Put your attention on what you can control and either manage risk for the rest, or forget about it.
  • Risk should only be accepted with a corresponding chance of reward.
  • As a leader you’re part of “the system,” and represent the institution. So you can’t blame “the man” because you’re him.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard 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.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

In the next weeks I will be focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the second of these principles.

  • Do your personal SWOT analysis on a regular basis.
  •  Find your personal center of gravity and leverage it for all it’s worth.
  • Find ways to limit your weaknesses through mitigation, training, alliances, teambuilding, etc.
  • Adopt positive role models.
  • Get mentoring or coaching as needed.
  • Learn and practice the nuts and bolts of management and inspiration.
  • Do regular personal after action reviews to identify and consolidate lessons learned.
  • Seek and accept informed and intelligent counsel.
  • Ask for advice and suggestions from subordinates, and then make the decision.
  • Volunteer for important, “stretch” tasks and responsibilities.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. Richard 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.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

 

One of the main challenges in business is finding a way to grow. A company can choose the acquisition route. This is what Richardson GMP did last year when it acquired Macquarie Private Wealth to become Canada’s largest independent (i.e. non-bank) wealth management firm. GE is currently in the process of acquiring France’s Alstom to expand its energy business, while Medtronic is buying Covidien to expand the range and scope of its medical device offerings.

In reality, though, an acquisition is just a means to an end. Companies can also choose to grow “organically,” that is, to create new businesses from within on the basis of existing products and services. In either case, the growth can come from increasing its share and penetration of existing markets, offering new products to existing customers, seeking out new customers for existing products and services, or creating a whole new business by offering new products to entirely new customers.

There is a basic assumption underlying all of these approaches, however. It is that the company continues to define itself in the same way. If we take again the example of Medtronic, we can see that its acquisition of Covidien fits nicely within its corporate mission, which is: “To contribute to human welfare by application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture, and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.” (www.medtronic.com). Medtronic and Covidien both make surgical and prosthetic devices based on biomedical engineering.

But what if we go beyond the assumption of staying within an existing business model and mission? When I engage in strategy formulation with clients I often introduce the concepts illustrated in the following graphic. I call these complementary approaches generalization and instantiation of value.

Generalization-Instantiation of Value

Whenever a business has a very specific value proposition, I encourage its executives to question that by having them ask: What is this value an example of? Alternatively, what is a more general, abstract, or higher order way to express our value and mission?

In the diagram I show the process for a restaurant. The most concrete value that customers get is to go to the restaurant for a meal. But what if customers could get value by buying a meal there but taking it out to eat elsewhere? It is obvious that many restaurateurs and customers have already thought of that idea. You can go higher in terms of generality. What if customers could get meals from that restaurant but enjoy them whenever or wherever they want? Then you get a selection of frozen or preserved meals. The same goes for offering catering to clients of the restaurant. You can have any number of levels, but four levels are probably a good number to start with.

You can do this exercise in more ways than one. The restaurant owner could decide to generalize by opening other locations, or franchising, or getting into other types of cuisine, or restaurant formats. The important thing to remember is that you work from very specific and concrete value to a more general expression and form of the same value.

The right hand progression in the diagram is the inverse of generalization. Instead of generalizing upward, the object is to proceed downward from value that is very general and abstract to value that is more concrete. The question to ask, then, is whether you can provide a more concrete instantiation of the general value you are already providing.

The graphic depicts this instantiation process for a company that provides event management consulting to its clients. Through asking progressively more specific questions, the company could go from offering general consulting on events, to helping their clients organize and run their events, to co-owning events (e.g. a conference) with clients, or owning them outright. This could even extend to developing part or all of the content within the event, and then controlling the intellectual property and subsequent rights to it.

The important thing is to see this as a heuristic device to either expand or restrict your business’ existing definition of value. This could even extend to redefining the company’s purpose by creating a new mission statement that is more specific and concrete, or more general and abstract.

© Alcera Consulting Inc. 2014. We encourage the sharing of this information and forwarding of this email with attribution. All other rights reserved.

In the next weeks I will be focusing on each of the 10 leadership principles I learned as an officer in the army. This the first of these principles.

I always like to say that competence is the heart of leadership. Remember that competence consists of 3 domains: knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

  • People want to follow leaders who are competent and able to lead them to victory.
  • The idea that you can be an effective leader while being a so-so manager is a myth. Leaders must be effective at planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling.
  • Be clear on your objective(s) before considering the factors and making a decision.
  • Make decisions as fast as required, but not so fast that you rush headlong into the first course of action that pops into your head.
  • Consider multiple courses of action before making a decision.
  • Surround yourself with the right people.
  • Create a strong team and organization.
  • Communicate clearly and directly.
  • Follow up and ensure effective and efficient implementation of your plans during execution.
  • Designate your main effort and give it the resources and attention it requires.

Richard Martin is The Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. An expert on strategy and leadership, Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to thrive and grow in the face of rapid change, risk, and uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

Too often I find myself trying to take on an obstacle or resistance head on. I could be trying to convince one of my daughters that she should follow my (brilliant) advice. Or I could be in a meeting with a prospect or client. I also know that this is one of the most common occurrences in business and management. Here are some tips to help you manoeuvre around that obstacle.

  1. Is the obstacle real or only a figment of your imagination? I’ve often imagined some future resistance that turned out to be just that, my imagination.
  2. Can you avoid a frontal assault? Say you’re trying to convince someone that they should do something. Why not do so gradually by presenting examples and evidence of its advantages rather than a full on attack?
  3. Do you find yourself trying to argue a point rationally all the time? Instead provide an emotional hook to show the psychological benefits of following your proposed course of action.
  4. Avoid confronting or criticizing people in front of others. People don’t like to lose face, so it’s always better to argue a point or engage in criticism in private.
  5. “Soften” up your target by providing positive feedback and encouragement before bringing up criticism.
  6. Is the obstacle or resistance even worth the fight? A basic military tactic is called “picket and bypass.” This means you go around minor centres of resistance while keeping watch on them to ensure they don’t catch you off guard as you go past them.
  7. Remember the most important principle of military strategy: selection and maintenance of the aim. Keep your ultimate objective and priorities in mind as you implement your plans.
  8. Resistance often crumbles in the face of overwhelming force. If you need to eliminate an obstacle to your success, use maximum resources at your disposal to neutralize it.
  9. No plan survives contact with the enemy (reality). Adjust your plans and implementation of them as you advance toward your goals.
  10. Accept that there will always be naysayers and competitors. Accept also that you can’t predict everything ahead of time. Keep resources in reserve to overcome and adjust to unforeseen circumstances.

Richard Martin is the Master Strategist and Leadership Catalyst. As an expert on strategy and leadership, Richard brings his military and business leadership and management experience to bear for executives and organizations seeking to exploit change, maximize opportunity, and minimize risk.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.

We got a 2-month old kitten about 6 weeks ago. It’s fascinating to see how it “plays” at being a cat in the wild. Granted, it sleeps about 20 hours a day. But in the remaining four hours it spends a lot of time practising to be a hunter. It does so by pretending it’s stalking just about anything in the house, including our feet. I read a few years ago that domestic cats most resemble tigers in their habits, and I can easily see why. I’ve come to the realization that play is really practise for the real world of stalking, hunting, and eating prey. Never mind that it will probably never go outside and will have a full bowl of food; it’s still preparing.

This is how we should view our own business activities, especially any that are vital to our survival and thriving. For example, if one of our roles is to prospect and acquire clients, then we need to practise that. Why wait until an actual sales call or meeting, when we should be “playing” it out beforehand with others in the roles of competitors and/or prospects and buyers?

We can break down the activity into sequential and parallel tasks that can be analyzed, studied, and then practised in detail. We can then reconstitute the whole operation from start to finish. It helps to have observers and coaches to critique our approaches. We can also conduct post-action reviews to determine where things went right and where things went poorly. We do this so we can reproduce our successes and convert our mistakes in real operations.

Any mission-critical function or task can and should be analyzed and improved in this manner, both in terms of the process and in its actual execution. We must learn from the cat, and practise before the real game.

Richard Martin is an expert in strategy and leadership. He uniquely combines his military experience and business acumen to help executives and companies grow and thrive in the face of massive change, competition, and uncertainty.

© 2014 Richard Martin. Reproduction and quotes are permitted with proper attribution.