I was speaking for a corporate client and his team last week in Toronto. The topic was team collaboration and the lessons of the military approach to collaboration.

Most people expect that the military relies exclusively on discipline and command authority, but the reality, especially in this day and age, is that everyone must understand the big picture, including the why of an operation and the mission in order to achieve the commander’s intent. There are simply so many things that can go off the tracks in modern military operations, specifically in peacekeeping and counter-insurgency, that soldiers at all levels must be able to adjust and apply their initiative on the fly as the situation evolves.

The idea that everyone advances in serried ranks in the face of withering enemy fire is anachronistic. Today’s soldiers must be intelligent and informed. They must have the big picture so they can manoeuvre and adapt in the face of changing circumstances and intelligent opponents, both vying for the hearts and minds of the population.

Whether in sales, marketing, product development, or after sales support, all members of your organization/team must be aware of the overarching strategy and business model, as well as the intent of company, division, departmental, team leaders. Just like modern-day warriors facing sophisticated opponents, they must be given the big picture at strategic, operational, and tactical levels. They must also have a clear understanding of the intent and mission so they can adapt and evolve with the situation.

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.

In battle the best way to defeat an entrenched enemy is to hit him in his weak spot or, even better, manoeuvre around him completely to make his position untenable (and irrelevant). By the same token, a company can outflank or bypass the competition through innovation and savvy market manoeuving. Here are some questions from Brilliant Manoeuvres to improve your ability to use the indirect approach:

  • Are there customers, segments, or entire markets that are currently inadequately served or ignored by established competitors?
  • Are there existing products and services that could be modified to better meet these needs?
  • Are there components or technologies that could be re-combined or suitably modified to meet these needs?
  • Could you effectively outflank and bypass the competition by exploiting these under-served or ignored needs?
  • What competencies and resources can you bring to bear to exploit these opportunities?
  • What financial, human, technical, marketing, and sales capabilities could you develop or acquire to bypass the competition?
  • Can you keep the risks within acceptable bounds? What means could you use to do so?

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.

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!

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

Time spend in reconnaissance is rarely wasted. Whenever a military force is advancing against enemy positions, it always sends out scouting parties to reconnoitre the terrain, confirm enemy positions and strength, and find gaps and weaknesses in the defences.

Selling should be conducted in the exact same manner. Time spent in preparation, is rarely wasted. Even if you think you know what you’re up against, you must sound out your clientele and send out metaphorical scouting parties to size up the client, identify potential objectives, wants, and needs, as well as identify and assess the competition. You can do this through a phone call, telemarketing (if you’re reaching out to find leads), online research, or background research from your company’s own data banks and CRM software.

The key point is, don’t go in blind, even if you think you know everything you need to know. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s not just good motherly (or doctorly) advice.

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.

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!

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

By analogy with combat readiness, business readiness is the state of being aware of, capable of, and fully prepared to exploit to changes, maximize opportunities, and minimize risks in order to achieve a company or business unit’s mission, vision, and objectives.Business readiness requires an offensive mindset in order to seize and maintain the initiative, as well as the strategic, operational, and tactical leadership to influence others in the achievement of the mission.

  1. Do you have a clear and precise mission and vision for your organization?
  2. Have these been well communicated to your management team? Has the team understood and implemented them?
  3. Is your business strategy offensively oriented, or is it overly defensive with you frequently reacting to your competitors’ moves?
  4. Do you have a good understanding of your strategic, operational, and tactical environments? Do your management team and employees have the same good understanding?
  5. How is morale in your organization? Note: Morale is not the same as whether or not employees are happy with the company or in a good mood. It is whether they are willing to fight to win.
  6. Are you entirely confident in your management team, and its capacity to translate strategy into concrete actions and results?
  7. Do you have a well-articulated operating strategy that has been translated into operating plans for finance, production, marketing, communications, sales, research and development, human resources, etc.?
  8. Do you have a succession plan to develop the next generation of leaders?
  9. Do all your leaders have a “second-in-command” who can take over at a moment’s notice?

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 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation just released its report by an outside investigator into star radio host Jian Ghomeshi’s execrable behaviour. Beyond confirming that Ghomeshi was a class A a__hole, we’ve also learned that managers knew about it and did mostly… nothing.

This is not an HR problem. It’s a leadership problem, a management problem, an ethical problem! Leaders set the ethical tone of an organization. What they accept will be deemed acceptable; what they reject, will be deemed rejectable. Poor leadership breeds poor management and poor leadership, and it also breeds questionable actions.

I call this the “license principle.” Leaders provide a license for certain types of behaviour and attitudes, even if they don’t act that way themselves. Refusing to deal with a workplace bully like Ghomeshi just because he’s a star provides a license to others to act in the same manner and fails to protect those that are the target of the bully’s ire.

A fundamental leadership principle that I learned in the Army requires that leaders care for the welfare of subordinates and followers. CBC management failed in this mission while tacitly encouraging bullying and favouratism.

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 following extract from my book, Brilliant Manoeuvres, is as relevant as ever:

Followers will model their behaviour on their leaders, especially if they, the followers, have little experience of the undertaking. The leader sets the tone for the entire organization by how he or she thinks, acts, speaks, and decides. If the leader is weak and indecisive, the whole organization will often be of the same complexion. If the leader acts ethically and with integrity, then this attitude will tend to permeate the organization. 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.

  • Have you ever been forced to work for or follow a leader of dubious competencies and integrity? How did you feel? How did your co-workers feel? What mechanisms did followers adopt to compensate for the leader’s weaknesses?
  • Conversely, have you ever had the pleasure to work for a leader who was competent and who provided a superb example of professional excellence and ethical integrity? What was it like? How did you and your co-workers feel and act? What were the mood, morale, and cohesion like?
  • Are you always a good role model and example for your followers and peers? Are you truly worthy of their loyalty, confidence and respect at all times?
  • Skills building techniques:
    • Make a list of all the leadership qualities and practices that you have always admired. Decide to apply these to your own leadership in a conscious and deliberate manner.
    • Make a list of all the poor leadership practices that you’ve always disliked in others. Observe yourself in action and try to avoid these practices in yourself.
    • 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? Work to balance their expectations and their needs in everything you do and project.
    • 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?

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower

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!

Ask me about my new Battle Procedure Briefing for business.

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.

One of the most important lessons I learned as a young army officer was that it’s more important to give followers what they need than what they want. Yes, it can be good to offer rewards and compliments. But it’s much more critical that followers and others under a leader’s authority receive what they need. And what they need is solid, competent leadership; a realistic understanding of the situation, including opportunities, threats, strengths, AND weaknesses; honest feedback to improve and change for the better; and, finally, resolve and resilience.

However, this philosophy doesn’t just apply to leadership. It is also fundamental to the client relationship. We’ve all heard the bromide to the effect that the “customer is always right.” Well, actually, no! The customer isn’t always right. Imagine going to see a dentist and saying, “I don’t want that cavity filled because it might hurt too much.” We all have to hear and undergo something unpleasant or disruptive at some point, even if we’re the customer. The provider’s job is to give sound advice that is in the client’s best interest, even if the latter doesn’t like to hear it. And that takes leadership, too!

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.