Leadership is the art of influencing others in the accomplishment of a task or mission.

Many people automatically default to using rewards and punishments and various other forms of transactional leadership to influence followers and subordinates. The problem with this though is that people habituate quickly to rewards and punishments (assuming the latter aren’t extremely abusive). It’s like jumping into a swimming pool. There can be an initial shock of cold or pleasurable cooling sensation, but you get used to it fairly quickly. Once people are habituated to transactional leadership tactics, they tend to fade into the background and lose their effectiveness.

Another problem with transactional approaches to leadership is that they can initiate an unintended train of cause and effect. If you promise bonuses to your sales people so they focus on clearing out inventory of a particular product, you shouldn’t be surprised if they focus almost exclusively on that to the detriment of other products and services.

Leading from the inside out involves finding what motivates people internally, and working to either modify or leverage those intrinsic motivations. Here are some key approaches for “leading from the inside out.”

  • Lead by example.
  • Say what you do, and do what you say.
  • Give people the end state, overarching vision, and goals, and let them find the best way to achieve these (assuming legality and reasonable standardization of processes and procedures). In other words, specify what to achieve, not how to achieve it.
  • Involve people in setting goals and the overall vision, if relevant.
  • Let people define their own contributions and mission statement.
  • Provide resources and inputs subject to the requests and needs of subordinates.
  • Give them as much situational information as feasible within the constraints of business secrecy and personal confidentiality.
  • Find what makes each of your direct subordinates or followers tick, what their strengths personal goals are, what their personal preferences are, then try to assign them tasks and responsibilities that will leverage these and stretch their capabilities.
  • Give people general functional responsibilities and let them figure out the details.
  • Ask for their advice on important matters, not just trivial ones (sales planning vs the color scheme in the break room).

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.

Some of you may be old enough to remember Nancy Reagan’s plea to “just say no” to drugs. If only it were that easy for those who are mired in dependency. The same thing goes for strategy and other aspects of management and leadership. We often end up doing things or acquiescing to commitments that we should just turn down, or outright refuse to do. Ask yourself these questions before deciding to do something or make a commitment:

  • How does it contribute to my major goal(s)?
  • Do I even know what my major goals are?
  • Can I delegate it to someone I trust or MUST I do it myself?
  • Does it contribute to my brand, repute, mission, vision?
  • Do I believe it is useful and will actually work?
  • Am I just going through the motions?
  • Do I WANT to do it or commit to it?
  • Am I just trying to placate others?
  • Am I just trying to please others, or trying to “fit in,” or doing what I believe is expected of me?
  • Who is asking me to do it? Do I respect their judgment and opinion? If not, then I need to get another opinion or give more consideration to MY needs and values.

There are probably more questions to ask yourself, but I’m sure you can see where I going with these…

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 might find this hard to believe, but SIMPLICITY is actually a key principle of military strategy and tactics. Complication increases the probability of friction, and friction increases the chances of failure, or massive confusion.

How do you know you’ve achieved simplicity? Simple: People can readily explain things back to you in their own words without error or misunderstanding. Whether it’s your overall intent, vision, mission, or detailed plans, ALL of your employees should be able to respond to the questions, “What are we doing here and what is your part in it? What happens if you can’t fulfill your part of the plan?” In business terms, this also includes the ability to quickly articulate how the client is better off by buying your products or services or doing business with you.

Here are some quick tips to keep things simple:

  • Give people your overall intent and tell them WHAT you would like them to contribute and WHY it’s important.
  • Let them figure out the best WAY to achieve their tasks and outcomes.
  • Focus on outcomes, not inputs.
  • Follow the rule of three: Only rarely should you give more than three major tasks or outcomes to someone. Limit their span of responsibility and control to three subordinates.
  • Break complex plans and tasks into smaller pieces and assign them to separate teams and leaders. Apply the rule of three.
  • Assign clear lines of authority and responsibility. Ensure people are accountable.
  • Assign major resources to teams and leaders but let them figure out and coordinate the details.

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.

I was recently discussing different approaches to strategy formulation and implementation with my good friend Phil Symchych. Phil is an expert in wealth building for owners of mid-market enterprises. When I presented some of the military principles of strategy, Phil enthusiastically endorsed them and encouraged me to create an approach around the four most important ones.

As a result, I’ve just developed a quick and easy model for applying military principles of strategy and tactics to achieve business success. I’m calling this new model, MOME. It stands for Morale, Objectives, Mass, and Economy. Naturally, I’ve leveraged these principles with my near decade-long experience of applying this philosophy to help businesses grow and prosper in the face fierce competition and rapidly changing wants and needs. Let’s look at each in turn and then at some of the ready applications for the model.

Morale. Military strategists and leaders have long known that MORALE is THE critical human factor in war and conflict. However, it is also foundational for business and strategy. The simplest definition of morale is the “will to victory.” It is the willingness to make sacrifices, persevere, and focus on achieving one’s aims despite setbacks, obstacles, and opposition. Morale is driven by the quality of leadership, the mission, and vision of the organization, and the level of engagement of employees and members to its foundational principles and goals.

Objectives. All military strategists agree that selection and maintenance of the aim is THE most important of all the principles of war and conflict. You need a clearly articulated end state—what does victory or success look like—as well as a specific and concrete mission to get everyone aligned and working to the same end. Moreover, when you communicate these throughout the organization, telling people what outcomes to achieve and not how to achieve them, they become motivated to use their initiative and leadership to overcome obstacles and adapt on the fly to the inevitable changes in situation and conditions. This is why a business needs a concrete vision of where it is heading as well as an engaging mission for customers and employees. The important thing is to be as concrete as possible and to operationalize the vision into a hierarchy of subordinated goals and missions to maximize alignment and focus at all levels of the organization.

Mass. In the British and Canadian military, this principle is known as concentration of force, mainly because they are small forces. But in the US forces and other large forces, they simply come right out and talk about MASS. The fundamental point here is that you must put your money where your mouth is. You have to concentrate for the “big push” or main effort so you attain your objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. Businesses must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and focus them to out-manoeuvre competitors in order to offer greater value for targeted customers.

Economy. This is the flip side of mass and concentration of force. There are never sufficient resources to accomplish everything that you want. You have to prioritize. In fact, the best definition of economy is the one developed by economists: Economy is the allocation of scarce resources that have alternative uses. You may have to take a defensive or maintenance posture in some areas of your business so you can free up the resources to invest in the business lines where you want to be on the offensive. By the same token, you have support your objectives and lines of advance with adequate logistical and financial means. There is also the “economic” and financial aspect of your strategy. Whatever you decide to do, it has to be “economical” in the sense of presenting a strong and valid business case.

To see how the MOME model applies in practice, let’s look at the example of an acquisition:

  1. How will this affect MORALE and other group factors in the acquiring company and the acquired? Does this change the combined units’ fundamental mission? Who will stay on and who will be let go?
  2. What are the OBJECTIVES of the acquisition or merger? Have these been clearly articulated and communicated to all stakeholders? What outcomes are you expecting? Are they realistic or more like wishful thinking?
  3. Will the acquisition allow you to generate more MASS for high-growth opportunities or are you just throwing good money after bad? Is this just an ego trip or is it a viable opportunity? What is the main effort of the acquisition process and what are the supporting actions? What is your plan to out-manoeuvre and surprise your competitors, and to apply your center of gravity—i.e., your key strengths—to achieve your objectives?
  4. What are the ECONOMICS of the plan? Where do you need to ECONOMIZE in order to free up lower priority resources so you can create mass on the main effort? How will you prioritize these resources and what are the supporting functions and tasks?

These are just some of the specific questions your plan and strategy must answer so you can create the conditions for success and victory. You can’t leave anything to chance, and where there are uncertainties, you have to guard your flanks and rear areas with sound risk management.

How do YOUR strategy and plans measure up to the MOME model? How is morale in your company? What are your objectives? Do you have mass? Are you economizing in the right areas, and what are the economics of your business? I can help you answer these questions.

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.

Goal-setting is a buzzword (or is that buzzterm?) that gets bandied about a lot. We’re supposed to set clear goals so everyone is motivated and knows what to aim for.

Forget SMART goals though: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Sometimes the last thing we need is an “achievable” goal, much less a “realistic” one. Most accomplishments–and they needn’t be monumental or earth-shaking in scope–appear unrealistic and unachievable in at least some respects to some people some of the time. The other things are useful, but speed, surprise, and originality can be just as important, if not moreso, especially if you’re in highly competitive situation.

Instead, I propose defining the end state you’re looking to create. This comes from military practice, where a commander clearly communicates what the battlefield or operation will achieve in very concrete terms: for instance, the enemy has withdrawn from objective X and is on the run; our forces have seized objective X and are in a strong position to exploit to line Z 20 km beyond the objective.

This type of goal creates a vision that anyone can relate to. Moreover, it sets the parameters for what is needed to get there. “If this is what the end state looks like, then what do we have to do and by when, with what resources, and in what manner, for that to become the new reality?”

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.

I have developed a quick and easy tool to help you determine and evaluate your offensive posture. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you pick and choose the best customers or do you take what you can get?
  2. Do you set your price and deal with early adopters, or do you take the price the market sets and deal mostly with late adopters?
  3. Do you innovate new or modified products and services or do you imitate your competitors’ ones?
  4. Is your brand admired, a trendsetter; or do you just blend into the background?
  5. Are you constantly surprising competitors and customers–in a good way that is–or are you often the one with the deer in the headlights look?

If you can’t answer positively to at least 3 of these 5 questions, then you’re letting others take the lead and have lost the initiative. You’re a commodity, not a brand.

Contact me if you want the evaluation tool I’ve developed. We can also discuss how you can seize and maintain the initiative so YOU can be on the offensive.  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.

I was working with a client last week and someone claimed that visions and missions are useless. Perhaps he had had bad experiences with those concepts, but I maintain that it is essential to have a clear and concise vision as well as a mission statement.

When you go through the exercise of creating these, you are forcing yourself to be disciplined about what YOU are trying to achieve. The VISION doesn’t have to be a lofty statement of purpose and values. It is simply the ultimate OBJECTIVE to which you are proceeding. It must be concrete and give everyone in the organization the picture of what SUCCESS will look like.
The MISSION is the means of getting there. In business, this specifically means what is the VALUE you are bringing to the market place and how you are positioning your company, its products and services, relative to buyers’ needs and wants, and those of your competitors.
By COMMUNICATING your vision and mission, you are bringing everyone who needs to be into the picture so they can apply their skills, knowledge, and initiative to their achievement.
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.