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.

When I was in the Army many years ago we would have all kinds of competitions. Many focused on military drills and skills, such as shooting, but there were also When I was in the Army many years ago we would have all kinds of competitions. Many focused on military drills and skills, such as shooting, but there were also a lot of sports competitions, one of which was an annual snowshoe race. You read that correctly; we would actually run in snowshoes. Not particularly fast, but run we did.

The team coach was a highly proficient sergeant and an excellent snowshoe runner himself. On the first day of training one year, he gathered all the team members together and told them he would divulge the “secret” of snowshoe racing. You would have thought he was about to reveal a great truth. In a way he was: “You start by putting one foot forward, then the other, then the other, then the other again… and you keep on doing that until you get to the finish line or collapse trying.”

Now, you have to admit that’s a pretty open “secret,” but it contains it contains a basic truth. Most things we undertake are really not that difficult or complex. However, they do take discipline and persistence. These are traits that the military seeks and reinforces in its recruits and members. You can’t accomplish a task unless you set your mind to it. Moreover, most worthwhile undertakings will entail a certain degree of difficulty and challenge, or could even be subject to the competition and aggressive intentions of others.

This story highlights another aspect of discipline and persistence that are often forgotten or not even acknowledged. I wish I could remember who it was, but another former military colleague once said that discipline is really mostly voluntary. This goes against the common understanding of discipline as something that is imposed. However, the origins of the word are the same as disciple. In other words, to practice and master a discipline, once must first submit to a teacher and his teachings. That is what a disciple is: someone who willingly follows a teacher who knows more and is more skilled a field than the disciple.

When you combine the fact of voluntary discipleship with persistence and the rigour of a systematic approach to knowledge and skill development, you get a potent mix that ensures the maximum chances of success. A key part of discipline and persistence is to actually follow the steps and technique laid out in systematic procedures.

When I was writing my first book, Brilliant Manoeuvres, a few years ago I did some research into the best approaches for productive and effective writing. I came across a book for academics titled How to Write a Lot, by Paul Silvia. You’d think there would have been a lot of technical insights about outlining and getting organized and other assorted methodological pointers.

The author pointed out instead that all of those things could actually get in the way of productivity. How? By becoming excuses to procrastinate. It turns out that the “secret” to productive writing is to sit down and write. Sounds a lot like the advice that sergeant gave about “effective” snowshoeing. There is never going to be a good moment to start writing. Inspiration and creativity come with practice and work, not by sitting there and thinking or worse, hoping and wishing. I applied the same discipline and persistence I learned in the army (for snowshoeing and other more life-defining undertakings). That’s how I produced my first book.

I could also talk about other factors in discipline, such as the unattainable search for perfection and waiting for the “right conditions” or the “right timing.” The reality is that there is never a right time or the right conditions to do anything. What we need is a systematic method (also known as rigour), the discipline to actually apply it, and the persistence to continue despite setbacks, mistakes, opposition, and the occasional discouragement.

I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives. Most have gotten to where they are through hard work, discipline, and persistence. But there is always more opportunity and need for discipline and persistence, as well as rigour. Every business and individual gets to a point of questioning and renewal in order to grow or break through to the next level. This takes just as much discipline and persistence as it took to get to the present level.

Richard Martin is a 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 essence of military style command and control is mission based planning and direction. Most people have a vision of military command structures based on caricatures dating back to the First World War. However, even during that war (and preceding ones) military forces were only successful to the extent that units and leaders at all levels were free to interpret plans and orders and exercise their initiative within the superior commander’s intent, rather than following detailed set-piece plans and executing orders to the letter.

If you want to be truly successful in achieving your aims, you have to give your team members the overall intent and scheme of manoeuvre, while letting them figure out the best way(s) to achieve them. This can be summarized as “tell them what to do, not how to do it.” Yes, there are times when you must be highly prescriptive, implement procedures, and set minimum standards. But these only cover the most common and basic needs. Leaders must have the freedom to explore different options with their teams and to reinforce what works while dropping what doesn’t. Not only is this more effective and efficient, it also leaves them with more space to exercise initiative and provides everyone with the intellectual stimulation and intrinsic motivation to succeed.

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.